Some of our cross-the-street neighbors have a whole flock (gaggle? herd?) of chickens in their backyard. This is a pretty interesting fact all on its own, since our neighborhood is pretty suburban. You wouldn’t drive down our street and think livestock.
There are around 15 chickens and they’re fascinating to watch — they are of several exotic varieties plus they sometimes engage in unprovoked cock-fighting. Because several of them are roosters, they have been known to wake up the neighbors (not us, since we’re across the street and they’re far back in the back yard). To prevent this un-neighborliness, the chickens’ owners lock the chickens in their henhouse each night, then let them out at a reasonable hour of the morning. Here is where Sam comes in.
These neighbors are also kind of exotic and fascinating to watch. She is German, he is Pakistani, and they have six beautiful and brilliant children. Each summer they take about a month off to travel. This year they’re driving clear up to Alaska, and also going to Banff and some other interesting locations (Matt is drooling — why won’t his unambitious wife pack up all of his children and a tent for such adventures?). During their month-long abscence, Sam is in charge of letting the chickens in and out.
Mercifully, the chickens enter the henhouse to roost each evening of their own accord. The real fun is letting them out in the morning. Feathers fly, they run over each other, all sorts of noises can be heard. It is funny.
This has been the perfect job for Sam. After initially accompanying him to be sure he felt confident with the latches on the gates and henhouse, we have let him be 100% responsible for his responsibility. Following a discussion about how dangerous it would be for the chickens if we forgot them in the morning (what with the 100 degree temperatures and all) he thought he’d better make a little sign to remind himself.
Nine-year-olds love a job that’s all their own.