I grew up on a farm in country Victoria. I have 3 siblings and we were all born within a few years of each other and we were lucky enough to live in a time when things seemed simpler and cartoons on Saturday mornings was the only screen time we knew of!
We had all sorts of adventures on the farm from helping at shearing time to burning off stubbles and tagging along at harvest. We had puppies & kittens and chooks and goats and basically had the best possible childhood. Farm life was our life and we loved it.
When we were only young, mum & dad bought us an incubator and away we went setting our first clutch of eggs.
The funny thing was that because we begged and borrowed eggs from anyone we could that when the hatch days arrived we had all sorts cracking out of the eggs! We had silkies, quail, ducklings & one goose all trotting around after each other which we loved and each time we fired up the incubator would be a new adventure.
Now i’ve got 3 kids of my own and i realise the internet & “staring at a screen” is probably here to stay unfortunately. It makes me sound old but I hate the fact that my own children and so many kids born in this time will miss out on the simple pleasures we were lucky enough to enjoy when we had no other choice but to entertain ourselves.
I can’t replicate the farm life for my kids who aren’t on a farm but one thing i can do is to do what my parents did and introduce them to keeping chooks and pets & hatching eggs so they can realise early on that there’s more to life than the internet and maybe google doesn’t have all the answers.
We’ve got a chook pen at home with ducks as well and we collect the eggs each morning and make sure they’ve all got plenty of food and water. We all then love eating the eggs and making pancakes with them and the eggs are sooo much nicer than the flimsy (and really crap) eggs that we used to buy at the supermarket. The names of our feathered friends are fun for us all to come up with too, we’ve got Peck Peck & Lucy, Chook Norris & Eggy Betts! (Yep, my wife's from Adelaide) Everyone gets a chance to name a new addition.
So every year, a few times actually, we save up the eggs for a week or two and put them in the incubator. We hang a calendar beside the incubator and mark off the days as they get closer to hatching, yep there’re apps that do this but if we used one we’d be kind of missing the point! Every week we’ll get the eggs out and with the lights dimmed we use a special torch to “candle” the eggs so the kids can see first the veins forming and then the tiny chickens growing inside the eggs. It really is magic when you think about it.
Then the chickens or ducks or quail will hatch and it’s amazing seeing the wonder on their faces as they watch a beak poke through or another crack appear. They marvel at the chicken that hatched out quickly and cheer on the poor little critter that’s struggling to make his way into the world.
All the while my three never stop asking questions about hatch times and temperature, humidity & how do the chickens get in the eggs? And you can see them just absorbing the information like sponges, it's real learning right under their noses.
After they all hatch, we THEN count our chickens and I watch the kids turn into budding entrepreneurs, they’ve sold the new baby chicks on gumtree or to school friends and always with a goal in mind (usually a new lego set or something similar but you’ve got to start somewhere!)
So it’s worth a try I say. Keep some chickens or hatch some eggs (or both!). Turn off the telly at least and get your children to understand that our food doesn’t just come from the supermarket and if they do it right there could be a bit of pocket money at the end.
Hopefully, they get to have a tiny bit of the farm life I was lucky enough to have.