We gave the girls some two-week old chicks a week before Christmas. We’ve talked about getting hens for months and finally decided it was time. Neither Cathy nor I are really into pets and, while the girls have expressed the occasional interest in getting a pet, they haven’t really pushed to get one. Chickens/hens are a bit of a compromise –a pet for the kids, while also providing eggs and fertiliser.
For the first few days Jasmine and Alexa always seemed to be playing and cuddling them. A few weeks later they aren’t quite as enamoured, but still enjoy having them. Unfortunately one (Rosemary) died from a common disease, Coccidiosis on Boxing. When Alexa went in to say good night she noticed Rosemary didn’t look well and there was blood in the box we kept them in. It was clear she was very sick and so the girls said a tearful goodbye to her. She died shortly after and Alexa saw her last moments, which was a bit traumatic. We buried her in the garden the next morning and planted some Rosemary on top of her grave. (We also got medicine for the others and they all seem fine.)
It led to some interesting conversations. After we buried Rosemary, Jasmine observed, “We’re really sad she died, but we still eat chicken!” We talked about how some tragedies affect us much more than others and this is why all the Australian media focussed so much on a recent siege in a Sydney café, but will only make a brief mention of a much worse event in an African country. We also spoke about it in relation to donating to charity. In The Life You Can Save (a website and book), Peter Singer compares our reaction to seeing a child drowning (everybody would try to save them) to children dying from poverty. There is a personal and immediate response to seeing a child drowning but millions of children dying from poor nutrition is too overwhelming and too removed from our own lives to have the same impact. This conversation led to them helping us work out what organisations we would donate to this year.
As well as the normal things they’ll learn from having to help look after animals, the girls have been learning some practical skills by helping to convert a cubby house into a chicken coop.
Alexa also learnt something when she generously gave a Jasmine a Christmas present of doing all the “poopa-scooping” for a week – a present she later regretted!
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