I was watching the toddler twosome outside on the weekend (in between the usual showers of rain!) interacting with our chickens (as they share their play space when they free range) and it occured to me that the ‘chookies' are their first real pets!
And great pets they are too! We only have 3 but they are certainly a part of our family now and the twins have grown along side the chooks as we got them just before the toddler twosome began playing up in the top paddock.
It took us a little while to make the top paddock safe for both chicken and toddler (a temporary area it was to be as we were aiming to finish the backyard landscaping by now…hmmm, perhaps by the time the girls are at school would be more optimistic nowadays!)Anyway, i won't go there as that thinking will send me back to my pinterest board yet again to look longingly at my child friendly, natural outdoor playspace ideas……here in case you are an addict like me!
Suffice to say we had to keep the chickens in the chicken tractor for a little while, but we were advised to do this anyway so they knew where their home and roost was and would faithfully come home to base each day once we started letting them free range!
The toddler twosome began to visit the girls each day and ‘chatted' to them through the wire….i then noticed them trying to poke grass though the wire so we included them in topping up the mash and fresh water each day. What valuable life skills they were learning before even 18 months!
We now let the girls (both chooks and twins i mean!) roam free for playtime each morning and i truly believe that they love each others company. The chooks love to wander over when we paint, they play with the twins when they enjoy water play, they join in on the running and chasing games we play. The even like to climb up the ladders and perch on the slides while the toddler twosome practice climbing and other gross motor skills.
The chookies now allow the toddler twosome to pat them and they have learnt the meaning of ‘gently' much to my amazement (the twins, not chooks!)
After cleaning out the roost straw and throwing over the fence to compost the other day, i turned around and saw both toddlers picking up strands of straw off the grass and throwing over the fence too…what a sight to behold.!
I certainly recommend keeping chickens around toddlers to anyone who can…the toddler twosome have already learnt how to feed a pet, how to pat gently, how to include them in play, where eggs come from and how to keep their home clean.
Most special of all is the little bond they are forming and the beautiful toddler giggles when the chookies enjoy a dust bath shaking dirt all over them or they come running as they hold out greens they proudly plucked from the vegie patch…..what a wonderful and rewarding friendship!
Does your toddler have a special relationship with a pet? I'd love to hear about it!