“Look…baby chicks!”

Mother and chicksI must have talked to about 800 children today at a fair at Garden Lakes Elementary School in Avondale. All of their faces beamed with joy at the fluffy bundles in the cage.

I told them the story, “A mother hen laid one egg each day until the nest was full. Then she just sat on them for three weeks. The weather was very cold, but she didn’t move. Finally the babies hatched! But the nights were still cold. So the hen gathered them under her feathered arms and snuggled them all night.”

“Where is the mom?” they wanted to know.

“I left her at home with one of the chicks, so she wouldn’t be too mad at me.”

It didn’t matter about the children’s ages. The fluffy puffballs delighted the entire K-8 group.

That gave me a jumping point to talk about heritage chickens, turkeys, and goats…and heirloom plants. My little onion friend, the Tohono O’odham I’itoi went with me (in a pot) to help tell the story of Father Kino, the Tohono O’odham, and a sacred mountain.

Go ahead, ask the kids at Garden Lakes if they know about heirloom vegetables. I’ll bet you get an answer that includes words like “old,” “almost extinct,” and “special.”

Unfortunately, I was way too busy to even think about taking a picture. The one above was taken at home. After the chicks hatched, my husband and I gathered them into a pen with the mother to protect them from our cats. You can barely see them tucked beneath feathers. Look closely for pairs of feet.

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