I can think of many fun things to do outdoors, but collecting eggs from hen houses with a bunch of kids has to be up there on the list. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever gathered eggs from the hen house myself, so I guess I have to admit that my own excitement made our morning at Fishkill Farms today that much more fun.
We had a lot planned this morning for our Adventures with Chickens and Eggs, and the kids got started right away making thumbprint chickens replete with feathers and beaks at the picnic tables while we waited for everyone to arrive and get settled. We were soon greeted by our friend Walker, one of the farmers at Fishkill, who was going to spend some time with us today as we learned a little bit about chickens and their incredible, edible, produce. Walker got the parents chuckling right away with his silly riddle about roosters laying eggs (it took me a minute to catch that one!) and the kids were quickly caught up in his infectious humor and good spirits. Walker told the kids that their job was to help gather the eggs today, that they could pet the chickens if they could catch them, and that they could toss them some corn for a treat.
We then headed down the hill toward the chicken coops and with the help of the parents, lifted the kids over the fence and into chicken land. They were delighted! The farm chickens were everywhere clucking and running to and fro around the kids’ legs. We had a wire basket to collect the eggs and while there were a few casualties (it’s hard to convey to the little ones that one must place the eggs ino the basket rather than dropping them in from 2 feet above) we gathered an admirable number of fresh eggs.The kids then had the chance to wash their eggs with Walker in one of the farm’s work areas before making a little basket in which to carry it home.
After our visit with the birds, we gathered on the shady orchard hillside for a rousing game of “chicken, chicken, fox (or weasel, or raccoon, or owl)” after a discussion about the birds’ predators to the tune of duck, duck, goose. We played a little chicken tag and learned the song, Los Pollitos Dicen or Baby Chicks are Singing, a traditional Latin American children’s song, in Spanish and English.Finally, we learned that the shells of chickens’ eggs are very strong when we stacked a large pile of books atop several inverted eggshells to see how many the dome-shaped shells could hold before crumbling. The big thrill was when they finally broke!
Many families stayed at the farm after the program to enjoy fresh omlettes and produce (like peas!) from the farmer’s market, to enjoy the gorgeous views of the surrounding orchard, and to spend some time picking farm’s beautifully ripe blueberries.
As always, a great time for all.