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A Chicken Mom is Not

  • Suzanne Broadhurst Contributing Writer
  • Published Jul 19, 2007
A Chicken Mom is Not

Finding the chuckle in the challenge of choosing curriculum isn't always easy, is it? Have you been to a homeschool convention lately? The choices are mind-boggling. I have to laugh when people ask, "Where do you get curriculum?" Where don't I get curriculum is more like it! Sometimes we just have to step away from the confusion and think about something other than curriculum so we can make clear-headed decisions.

That's what I planned on doing on my recent "get away from it all so I can sort through the plate of spaghetti noodles in my mind" drive. I ended up at an old-timey country garden and feed store, but it sure felt like a smorgasbord of learning experiences. The surroundings might have been different, but my experience at that feed store wasn't so unlike experiences at the local homeschool curriculum fair.

Have you ever ambled up to a table at a convention to look over the latest Homeschoolers' Only Way to Success Curriculum #2,684, Part B, having an inner conversation as well as an outer one? I faced that very duo-verbosity at that country store, oochy-coochying over the most adorable baby chicks ever bred and hatched.

In the throes of edu-decision making (should I really buy a baby chick as a science project?), motives, methods and mom-isms swirl in our minds: we love the kids (and chirping chickies); we are eclectic; and, "If I buy it, the children will clean up after it." As wise and curiosity prone parents, we step out of our comfort zone to ask questions of the curriculum suppliers, beginning with the bottom line: "How much is it?" (Fifty cents a chick. What a deal! Oh, I need to start with five to ten individual units? That's still not bad. Chicken feed is how much? Hmmmm ... it's adding up now.) Pressing on, knowing our children's education is worth any financial sacrifice we must make, we get some detail on how to use the curriculum, also known as "What do I have to do?" The answer always surprises us. What? There's a teacher's guide? (You mean, I have to feed, water, and protect the critters?!)

Setting aside our pride (the enclosure must be cleaned daily? Reminds me of grading homework. The daily-ness, folks, not the smelliness. Although there was that owl pellet...) and overcoming our slight lack of motivation, we forge on. How effective is this curriculum package? (It lays eggs? How many eggs? Every day? Now that's effective. Maybe too effective.) Our objections immediately surface (my children are allergic to eggs!) and we momentarily relax, believing we have just saved some serious chicken feed. (What? There are other kinds of chickens? That don't lay eggs?)

Now we're stuck. Captured like a rooster in a fox den. We are captivated, though, as the Curriculum Seller (or Feed Store Owner) explains the various types, brands, methods and markings of poultry... ummm... curricula. Penned between love for the children, a city-girl's curious mind, and interesting farm facts, there is no way out. A chicken mom is not. A chicken she must buy. I mean, we asked the first question. If we say no to the dealer, we will look like a Looky-Loo. Well, isn't that what we are? Just gatherin' the facts, sir.

Seeking an escape hatch before we end up on a two-hour ride home with a horde of hatchlings, we catch something in the farmer's instructions--something about zoning. Ah ha! We are not zoned for hands-on chicken-raising unit studies! We live in the city! The BIG city! There's our out! We don't have to raise chickens to give the children a quality education! In fact, we can't! Wooo-hooo! The city won't let us! Neener, neener, neener. (Uh oh--I wonder if HSLDA would go to bat for our homeschooling freedoms on this issue? Nah, they have bigger hens to fry than lil' ol' me trying to raise poultry.)

We reach deep into our confidence in the Lord and explain our dilemma to the expert scientist-farmer-man, convinced we are released of all responsibility to pursue this scientific, homesteading, back-to-basics educational endeavor due to a hitch in the law. As he hands us his card (complete with "Ten Easy Steps: Raising Chick to Chicken") just in case our city zoning changes, we know it will make good scratch paper to write a long-lost homeschool friend's new address on when we bump into them at Table #2685. It also comes in handy when we explain to the children just why we don't have a chicken in the backyard like our rural friends do.

So, what do we gather from our egg-defying country curriculum search? Not every deal, curriculum, or chick-iculum package is a God-deal, even if it is a good deal. What works for one may not work for another. Hmmm... maybe there's something to that old story of the city mouse and the country mouse.

Oh, and the real cackler to the story is that two blocks down the road from the feed store, the van was totaled. Who knows if the chicks would have even made it? (But don't worry--the herbs and I are fine.)

However, I'm still faced with the question of what to do about science this year. Let's try Apologia Biology and Life Pacs, children, with a side of herbs. Yes, rosemary, parsley and chives shouldn't create too many eggs. Unless, perhaps, they're caterpillar eggs! 


Suzanne Broadhurst lives in a little country house in the middle of the big city of Jacksonville, FL, where she longs to raise a cow--just for the fresh cream--but understands zoning prevents that as well. She rests easy knowing her city-dwelling life is just as full of educational adventures as a country one. Chickens and Tchaikovsky. It's all good.

This article was originally published in the July/Aug '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more details, visit