There have been quite a few talks about responsibility and stewardship around here lately. Mostly in regard to taking care of the chickens. They’ve been out of the cute little fluffy stage for a little bit now and are well into the “teen” stage. My kidlets are beginning to realize that having these chickens means more work and responsibility for all of us…which isn’t completely a bad thing.
One of my hopes in raising my kidlets is to instill a sense of responsibility. So many times society and the world tries to teach that responsibility is a burden that should be avoided. Without responsibility, everyone can do what they want, right? Think about it…so many things fall apart under that way of thinking. Perhaps I’m unique…and I’m sure I’m far from popular a lot of the time…but it’s something that is important to me. From a very young age, I start teaching my kidlets about responsibility. Even at a year old, they knew that they were responsible for their favorite blankie or stuffed toy. If those things couldn’t be found, then they ran the chance of having to go to bed without them. Amazingly enough, that rarely ever happened. They also start doing chores about that time. I always figured that if they could pull out a toy to play with it, then they could put it away just as easily. As they get older, they’re more capable of handling bigger chores and responsibilities.
One of those responsibilities is to take care of the pets. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats…and now the 10 chickens. Taking care of them requires much more then just feeding, watering and cleaning up after them. There’s a level of care that goes beyond that. 1 of our dogs (Brina) is getting old…she’s between 12 and 14 years old (the shelter we got her from wasn’t sure)…a sweet black lab/aussie mix that is showing her age in many ways. Learning to be gentle and take care of things like incontinence is a great lesson in responsibility. Our other dog is a 6 year old dachshund (Sadie) who has had some back problems. CareBear in particular learned a new level of responsibility when Sadie injured her back and was unable to move her back legs for a few months. GadgetJunior cleans up after the cats (mostly after Briar)…a level of responsibility he has willingly taken upon himself…so the cats can live here.
The chickens have added to this over all lesson…which I think will be a good thing.
Having stewardship over something or someone means working for the welfare of that something or someone in your care. At least in my mind. Taking responsibility for something or someone means acting in the best interest of that something or someone. Does that make sense? Being responsible and having stewardship doesn’t always mean we enjoy it…but there are rewards for doing so. Taking on the responsibility of the chickens…adding them to our overall family stewardship…I think is going to present some interesting discussions and lessons in the future…and is teaching my kidlets empathy and care for more then just the animals. Eventually the chickens will be able to take care of themselves for the most part. But aside from feeding, watering and cleaning up after them, there are other concerns that are already coming up. We live were summer temps can, and often do, get up to 110 degrees. The chickens are effectively wearing fur coats…so you can imagine how uncomfortable these high temps can be. While they’re outside for recess (which is most of the day now) the kidlets have the responsibility of checking on them every hour and refilling their “pools”…little tubs of water that they love to play in. They particularly love it when they add a few ice cubes.
The other morning, after setting the ForeverChicks outside for recess, FireBird noticed some blood on the beak of one of the Americaunas. This particular chick and another Americauna have been now dubbed the Dastardly Duo. These 2 have been a bit antisocial and on this particular morning had decided to start picking out the tail feathers on a few others. One poor little feather happened to be a blood feather…and was bleeding. Chickens go for red blood like flies to…well you get the idea. Keep in mind here that I’m very knew to this chicken responsibility…learning to take care of this particular issue was not exactly something I had planned on doing that day. I used cornstarch to stop the bleeding and isolated her for a bit inside. She was far from happy! I hadn’t been at that very long before CareBear came in all upset because the Dastardly Duo were pulling out tail feathers on the blacks. The smallest black was being picked on the worst. A little more research gave me a few solutions to try. I added vinegar to their “pools”…which they seemed to really enjoy, added a seed block for pecking boredom, and then smeared vaseline on the rumps of those with missing tails. The vaseline didn’t seem to work very well…especially for the one that was a little more red and raw. So I used gentian violet to cover the red areas (it also promotes healing) and then smeared vapor rub on their tails. That instantly stopped the Duo. It was quite funny to watch one of the bullies run towards the rump of one of her victims and then pull up short, shaking her head when she got a snoot full of the vapor rub. Not sure what was the miracle “cure”…or if it was a combination of some or all…but so far the Duo seem to be calmer. There is still a bit of feather picking, but I think in a more normal pecking order kind of way.