Life on our farm is alive with activity.
Our boys joined a 4-H Club this year and have been attending meetings regularly. With social distancing restrictions, our most recent meeting was held on a Zoom conference call. Each 4-H member was in their own home. We really enjoyed the show-and-tell aspect of the meeting. It was fun watching kids traipse around their farms to show off their projects including goats, cattle, rabbits and chickens. A virtual petting zoo.
We had taken a hiatus from chicken farming but this spring we have been home so much we decided to get back into it. Our local coop had some Plymouth Rock pullets and we decided to get a dozen chicks to raise for 4-H projects.
We cleaned out the chicken coop and the kids set up a heat lamp to take care of these little babies. It has been fun giving them something to feed and check on throughout the day. It is amazing how quickly they have grown.
It will be about five more months before these girls start laying any eggs. Our neighbor found a deal online where a guy was delivering laying hens one Saturday. I told her we were in for six of them to give the kids something to do while the pullets grew.
After work that day, I took my 10-year-old son over to the neighbor’s house to pick up the laying hens. They had clipped their wings. She warned me they were a little scraggly looking. We caught our six hens and took them home. We set up nesting boxes and a feeding system on their side of the coop. They began laying eggs immediately, which delighted the kids.
The scraggliest looking hen has been named QuaranTINA. She is a feisty gal who rules the roost. I am not sure how old these hens really are, but the kids are enjoying caring for them.
I have such fond memories of the Texas County Udders & Hooves 4-H Club in Missouri. My little sister and I raised registered Holstein heifers (and a few bulls) that were shown with other clubs at the local county and district fairs near our hometown. We spent our summers halter breaking, washing, and clipping these animals to get them primed for fair season. I hope my children get to have similar 4H experiences this summer.
The 4-H friends we made at fairs and camp are treasures. We stay in touch with several of them today on social media. Most fondly, I remember our fearless 4-H leader, Nyalin Barnes! She was truly a super mom getting us to judging contests, activities, and fairs. Of course, our parents and neighbors were a great support system too.
As the state of Arkansas opens back up and we learn to live in a new version of “normal,” I hope we find a way to give our kids some great summer fair and showing experiences with the 4-H and FFA projects they have all worked so diligently to care for. Whether your friends are two-legged and have feathers, our friends will get us through these crazy times, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’