I have spent a year preparing myself for chickens. My husband, Pete, isn’t normally excited about all my great ideas and plans so instead of focusing on preparing him, I decided to help our children get ready. One of my ideas was to sign the family up for a backyard chicken class at Gale Woods Farm. Gale Woods Farm is an actual working farm in Minnetrista, MN. They offer many classes and opportunities through the Three Rivers Park District for children and families to come and experience farming, gardening, and animal care.
I signed up for the March 2nd class. Little did I know that March 2nd would have temperatures in the single digits with below zero wind chills. As true Minnesotans, we added another layer of clothing and headed out the door for a morning of fun. We gathered in a classroom along with other couples and families excited to begin learning. I was very pleased with all the information they covered. Coops, anatomy, eggs, feed, behavior, predators. For anyone in the Minnesota area, I highly recommend taking their class if you are thinking about getting chickens. They also offer a great option for families taking the class – they allow the children to leave the class portion and go with Vickie Black, author of “Young Chicken Farmers”, and visit the chickens to do child friendly activities. Our youngest two children thoroughly enjoyed seeing the shipping box that ordered chicks come in, candling eggs to see if they are fertilized and if a chick is growing, collecting eggs from the coop, and learning how to pick up and hold real, live chickens. My youngest daughter, J, said it “felt rude to take the eggs right out from under the sitting hens”. Rude, maybe, but necessary.
When it was the adults turn to visit the coop, I was filled with excitement. This was what I had been waiting all morning for! They had quite a variety of chicken breeds – Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Easter Eggers, Red Sex Links, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, Sussex, to name a few. What a joy to reach down and scoop up the chickens! Pete won’t admit it but I could tell he enjoyed it as well. He spent the whole time grabbing chicken after chicken handing them to people and children. It was almost like he was the self appointed teacher’s assistant. He was humbled when he tried to pick up one of the roosters. Here is how it went:
Pete: Is that a rooster? I want to pick one up
Me: Yes, but I am pretty sure they probably won’t enjoy being held
Pete: It will be fine
Me: Well…. Remember the teacher had to hold one upside down because he was protesting so much. I don’t know…
Pete: It will be fine.
He reached down to grab the rooster and all you could see was wings flapping and the rooster arching his body towards him along with a screeching sound. The whole area seemed to stop everything they were doing and focused on Pete – like he was under a spotlight on a stage. The teacher then looked at him sternly and said, “Don’t do that” Ha ha. His teacher’s assistant position was just terminated. Fired on the spot!
That is the instructor (notice the stern look Pete’s way). At the end of the class, the kids all received a cute chick stuffed animal and we received more sheets of paper loaded with information. I took a few minutes to thank the instructors and they asked if we had chickens. I said “not yet but they were already on order.” I then was asked what county I lived in. I told him, “Scott county” . He then said, “You have to live on 10 acres to have chickens in Scott County”. I couldn’t even respond. I lived on a lot under 10 acres. What!? That isn’t true! It can’t be! I raced home to double check. It was true! How could I have missed that?! What was I going to do now!? My chickens were already coming! Cut to Pete shaking his head on the sideline.
To be continued……