Homestead Homeschool: Sheep and Surprise Chicks

If you have chickens, then you are probably familiar with the term ‘chicken math’.  If you do not, you might be envisioning math worksheets where students count chickens. However, the phrase ‘chicken math’ comes from the fact that people tend to start with just a few chickens and say that is all they need.

For most people, it does not take long before that number grows. They see cute chicks at the feed store; they decide they want different colored eggs, or a cute new breed of chicken.

We have fallen ‘victim’ to all of those means of chicken math, but a couple weeks ago we added to our numbers in a way we never had. One of our chickens had hidden under our deck, laid a nice clutch of eggs, and hatched out 13 baby chicks.

Baby Chicks

I walked outside one afternoon to help my seven-year-old in the garden before heading out of town for the weekend, and there was this hen with her little chicks just pecking the grass. 

Once I got over my shock, I had to figure out what to do with them all. My oldest son, who normally cares for our chickens, was at his grandparents and unable to help.

In the past, we have gotten chicks from hatcheries and kept them inside until they feathered. Since these chicks had their mama to keep them warm, we moved them all to a chicken tractor to protect them from predators.

Once in the tractor we provided food and water and let the mama hen do her job.

Not all hens are good mamas but this hen is doing a great job caring for her chicks. If you go out early enough in the morning you can see them all sleeping under her wings. They will peek their heads out as they hear noises. It is adorable!

One chick was born with some problems and did not make it, but the other twelve are doing great.

In addition to the surprise chicks, we have also added two sheep to the homestead. We would love to raise our own beef, but just do not have the land to do so. Instead, my son decided he wanted to try sheep which can provide similar meat on much less land.

Our Sheep: Lambert and Miranda

Sheep

The sheep are grazing with the goats and being supplemented with hay bales. My son and his friend also added a new electric fence to part of our back yard to increase the pasture area for them.

We are looking forward to learning more about sheep as we care for these sheep and my son is excited to be able to provide more for the family table. He is also planning to get his meat handlers certification so that he can possibly start selling some of the meat if we have extra.

I love that he is learning more about where his food comes from, animal husbandry, and business skills. He is also really improving on his carpentry skills and he builds shelters, barns, and such for his animals.

It even led to having a slightly awkward conversation about where the chicks ‘came’ from with my younger son. Whether he goes into a farming career or not, I believe these skills will serve him well in the years to come.

Garden Updates

Finally, a little update on the gardens. My older son’s garden is planted and seems to be doing well. He is trying a few new things including using a plastic row cover on part of it. This should help with weed control.

My seven-year-old and I planted in the raised beds. We had a bit of a problem with chickens that had gotten loose, but with those now contained it seems to be doing better and we are excited about fresh produce in a few weeks.

Do you have any questions about the animals or gardens that we could answer? Are you doing any homesteading projects in your homeschool? I would love to have you share in the comments.

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