Summer fair season is a long way away. It is hard for us to think of county fairs in Minnesota when there is still snow on the ground and temperatures are still below zero some days. But the weather outside isn’t stopping Minnesota fair kids for making plans for this summer.

At kitchen tables and in barns across Minnesota, kids are making plans for their own county fairs to begin this summer. Fair kids are beginning to think of projects they will be working on. They are celebrating the birth of their fair animals. They are navigating disappointing emotions when their plans for their animals don’t work out this winter. Everett began making plans last fall to hatch his own baby chicks for the fair this year.

Last spring, Everett purchased his first baby chicks from a local hatchery. The winter before, he was making plans for what kind of breeds of chickens he would like to raise. He was saving and looking forward to raising chickens. In the end, he decided on a variety of chicken breeds.

As his baby chicks grew, we all fell in love with his cochins. Cochins have a lot of feathers. They have feathers all the way down their legs and feet. They are a pile of soft fluffy feathers. I even started making earrings out of their soft feathers.

Brenda Rudolph
Brenda Rudolph

Cochins come in a variety of different colors. Everett’s favorite are blue cochins. At our county fair last summer, Everett showed a breeding pen of cochins, one rooster and two hens. After the county fair, Everett had begun to make plans for this year. He had decided he was going to hatch his own chicks from his breeding pen. For Christmas, there was an incubator waiting for Everett under the tree.

We were patiently waiting for his cochins to start laying eggs. Cochins take a much longer time to mature than other breeds. This is because of all their feathers they have to grow. It is definitely worth the wait. When Everett found their first egg it was a happy day.

All of Everett’s plans have currently made our dining room into his own little personal hatchery. There are eggs waiting to be placed in the incubator. There are eggs in the incubator. There are baby chicks in boxes on the floor.

Everett is in heaven. Every morning before he goes to school, he checks on his incubator if there is any sign of chicks making their way out of their shell. When he comes home from school, he checks again. Before he goes to bed he checks.

When we see a chick making its way out of its shell, we all gather around the incubator to watch. It is amazing. Sometimes we don’t even see them hatch and they are out of their shell part of life before we even know it.

For me, watching Everett make plans and take pride in his process of learning and growing with chickens is worth the chirping throughout the house.

Brenda Rudolph shares rural family life on her blog RaisingaFarmer.com. Follow along on Raising a Farmer on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Contact her at brenda@raisingafarmer.com.