Our neighbors, the ones with 8 kids, recently completed construction of a built in pool. This means they were automatically granted the title Most Popular House on the Block by the under 12 set. It is hard to compete with a pool for sheer cool factor. Just ask my sister, she has a pool too – and usually gets to host family dinners in the summer. Coincidence? I think not.
Our backyard does not house a cement pond (thanks for the memories Beverly Hillbillies!), but we retain bragging rights as the 2nd Most Popular House on the Block. It turns out chickens can be a kid’s best friend when it comes to attracting the attention of playmates.
On any given day you might find four or five giggling kids feeding berries to the hens, walking through chicken poop with sheer fascination and delight (no, really, dog poop makes them re-enact the projectile vomiting scene from the Exorcist, chicken poop is fun!) or attempting to sneak up behind an unsuspecting fowl in order to give her a thorough petting.
Our five year old neighbor boy, Z, stands on our front doorstep and cries when our 2 tiny dogs greet him from behind the screen door. But he has no problem holding Camilla or Eloise, the gentlest of our flock.
Life with chickens and a small boy just over the fence has become something one would imagine the life of a mobster under heavy FBI surveillance would feel like – no matter what I am doing or where I am standing, Z is there to give advice and narration:
Z: Hey! Are you feeding your chickens?
Me: (Tossing tomato slices to a waiting feathered friend, or 6) Yep, feeding the chickens.
Me: I thought it would be a good idea.
Z: Do you think they will die if you don’t feed them?
Me: Something like that.
Z: Do you think I should feed them?
Me: What did you have in mind?
Z: Well, I don’t like broccoli very much, maybe they could have that!
The ladies are a never ending source of amusement to our whole family – from the moment I open the run gate and all six fly out in different directions, squawking as though they are being chased by a coyote, to the moment they head up the ladder for the night, jostling one another for the best position in the coop. And all the kids in the neighborhood feel the same. Just wait until we find the first egg!