Five years ago, this student was one of the third-graders that helped raise three little fluff balls that grew to the hens we love today. He often visits the chicken coop in Sunflower Sentry Garden before school and shares fun stories with the younger kids. Today, I asked him to help me socialize the new fluffs as they are becoming a real handful jumping, flapping and attempting to fly with their spectacular growing wings. The chicks loved their time out of the cage and made a new friend.
Think how much school gardens and their chickens help students grow socially and emotionally and then share their strengths with others.
Can anyone believe that Goldie the hen was once this small. She is now Big Mama and head of the coop.
“Hello there.So, you want to fly. Be careful, you don’t want to hurt yourself.” The chicks flapped their wings and tried to soar but their new friend had seen it all before and knew what to do.
It’s amazing how such tiny creatures thrill people of all ages.
The tiny chicks of Sunflower Sentry Garden are strong, alert and ready for action. Chicken Daddy, one of the two students that I took to the Woolley Egg Ranch for fertilized eggs for the class incubator, brought his family to see the babies. They were the first to hold the chicks and give them sweet cuddles and love. Everyone made a safe circle and put the babies down to run and play before returning them to their cage for a long Sunday afternoon nap.
Everyone is in love with these tiny fluff balls. The kids are testing and be treated to the sweet peeps of these tiny beings while they work. When they take a break or finish for the day, they take turns visiting the babies.
First Born is the leader of the group. It dried off and was placed in its new home. Barbara played Mother Hen and tapped her finger on the food plate to show her baby how to eat. It got the idea straight away. When #2 was placed with her, she took the new chick to the plate and showed it how to eat and drink. # 3 and #4 followed right behind.
#2 is the biggest chick. It eats a lot and sleeps under the Brooder with the others.
All are healthy and growing quickly. They love cuddling under the Brooder and keeping warm.
Early Sunday afternoon–Mother’s Day–the chicks began their pipping process and soon broke loose of their eggs. Kids and adults stood watch and thrilled as each baby emerged. Two eggs remained inactive so we will watch until they reach 25 days in the incubator.
First Born–pale gold with distinctive markings. Active and alert.
#2–Brown and looking much like Brownie. Large and active.
#3 arrived at lunch time.
#3 sported a lovely white Mohawk that eventually dried into a white star. Many of the kids call the chick Starlight.
#4 took a while longer. This baby is the smallest and a beautiful red-copper color.
This student brought the fertilized eggs to class. He was amazed at the life-cycle–egg to a real, live chicks–four of them!
They are so small! We can’t move them to their cage with Brooder until they are completely dry.
Have you seen it? There is something new in the third-grade garden—a worm farm for making compost! Sunflower Sentry Garden received a generous grant from Zero Waste Marin to build a system that includes six wooden stands and environment bags, thousands of worms and a large blue canopy to protect the wigglies from weather extremes and rain.
My Nutrition-Science students set-up six worm home environments. They filled the large canvas bags with moistened cardboard, shredded newspapers and compost for the bedding. Several kids whipped up a tasty batch of worm stew (compost mixed with organic food scraps supplied by Chef Guillaume) and spread it on top. Lots of little hands carefully moved the worms to their new homes and covered them with a cardboard top to keep things dark and moist. And no, you won’t find worm stew on the chef’s lunch menu.
The first harvest of rich compost is expected in July—just in time for our late summer planting.
The stands were a favorite with the kids that pretended they were telaporters.
Shredding newpapers was great fun and very messy.
Worm stew will keep our wigglies strong, healthy and happily making compost.
Gently lowering the bag of worms down to their new home.
“What are they doing?” “Are they moving?” “Look, there is a huge clump of worms over there!”
All of the bags have zipped netting tops for best air circulation.
Perfect worm environments–and they come in different colors–red, green and purple.