By Missy Graham, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing
Last spring, I took on a title I never thought I would have, “chicken mom.” To be honest, it isn’t even a title or job I wanted. But, after several weeks at home because of the pandemic my husband finally convinced me we should get chickens. Getting chickens is something we had talked about before but not something we had seriously considered. We thought having chickens would be good for our special needs son, Conner; it would give him a job and a purpose. At school, Conner and his classmates take care of chickens and sell the eggs to raise money for special needs programs. We thought our other three kids would enjoy having chickens too.
So, a week before Easter last year I reached out to the only person I knew that had chickens, my department chair, Dr. Stacia Wert-Gray, to find out what I needed to get and do to have egg-producing hens. She kindly offered to meet my husband and I at Tractor Supply Company to show us everything we needed. We bought ten chicks and all the supplies necessary to raise the chicks to egg-producing hens. For several months, the chicks stayed in our garage in an old horse trough Stacia had given us. We put a divider in the trough that we moved periodically to give them more room as they got bigger. We set up a heat lamp for them to stay warm and the kids had fun each day holding them and arguing about which chicken was which since they had given them all names the day we brought them home but it was now very hard to tell them apart. At the beginning of September, the chickens were old enough to move to their chicken coop that we put in the middle of several rows of fruit trees in our backyard.
I have had the privilege of being a “chicken mom” for a year now and it has brought me more joy than I ever expected. The newness and excitement of having chickens have worn off for the kids – they see cleaning the coop or collecting the eggs as more of a chore than anything else. But, for me, I still enjoy going out to the coop each day guessing how many eggs I think the hens will have laid and worried that they might be too hot or too cold. Our family has eaten more eggs this year than ever before and we love being able to give fresh eggs to friends and family. If you need any eggs just let me know.