When you grow up on a farm as a child, you quickly learn that there are chores to be done every day. We always had chickens, I loved being in the chicken house. Watching the hens sit in nest boxes, waiting for a hen to lay an egg. This was a miracle every time it happened, I never grew tired of this amazing event. I would gather warm eggs, pet the hens that let me stroke them while they sat and waited for their egg to come. Some hens would flee from the nest, did they think I was a predator? They would leave with a squawk and all the hens would be alerted with fear. Soon things would settle down and I'd go back to the chores of the hen house. I had to feed and clean the water container and gather eggs. It may have taken hours some days...........
We also had rabbits. I loved those rabbits, they were soft to touch. Their ears were very expressive. Some rabbits loved to be petted and others were wild. We got our first rabbit for Easter from my Grandmother Rankin in 1957. It was a white rabbit and we soon got a black rabbit. As you might imagine then we started having baby bunnies. Colorful baby bunnies..... I named one Freckles, he was a favorite. We had to feed and water rabbits and in the summer time I gathered greens for them to eat in the cages. One summer we had 52 baby bunnies! My Dad was very inventive and he made a run for them in front of a hog house and they could eat grass. This box was moved every few days.
One day the bunnies discovered a hole and all escaped. They were running everywhere. Hiding in the garden, in the corn field or just out in the open. We captured all but two of these rabbits. Summer passed, and school started. We were walking to the bus, down our long lane and saw the biggest rabbit we'd ever seen sitting on the lane. He quickly went into the tile under our gravel driveway. Knowing his hiding place made it easy to catch him, a burlap bag at one end and our little hunter dog, Teddie, sent into the open end. We caught that rabbit, he was almost 20 pounds and very wild.
We often had baby pigs we bottle fed and raised. Sometimes even a lamb would need to be bottle fed. I remember our little dog Teddy and later there were other dogs. Teddy was our first, he was all white and little and loved to hunt rodents. But he thought chickens were rodents too and so he didn't get to run free like our dogs today. I loved that little dog.
As I sit here thinking about the animals that were in my childhood, I also think about the responsibility that came with these critters. My brother, Brian, my sister, Margaret and I learned to be responsible for the care of these animals. We did it every day, rain or shine, winter or summer, no excuses. It was expected. I think kids today need to learn these same lessons. Chores teach responsibility, something we all need to learn as we grow up and become responsibile adults.