For about three years, Everett had been asking to get chickens.
He began saving for chickens over the past year. This spring, he got baby chicks in a variety of different breeds. He spends endless time in the chicken coop.
When I help carry water, he tells me about each and every one. I try my hardest to show I am interested in what he has to say. I look at the chickens and think, “when are you going to start laying eggs?”
I know he cares about them, so I care with him. When he lost two chicks at the beginning, he was devastated. Yes, we had a funeral for two chicks.
The morning of the fair to show the chickens, I was stressed out. I knew nothing about showing chickens. I had no idea how to help Everett prepare for the fair.
We went into it as a “learning year and do better next year” kind of attitude. We didn’t know the culture of the poultry barn or how any of it works. We were going into it blind.
The morning of the fair, while getting the birds in their cages at home, I lost my patience with Everett. I thought he was being putzy, taking his time. I kept looking at the time; I finally lost my cool and said, “Everett, whatever birds are in these cages in 10 minutes is what we are taking and nothing more!”
That moment would come back to haunt me.
Before the poultry show, Everett took his time with each and every chicken. He took in all the nuggets and tips from people around him. From older kids wanting him to do well, to parents giving him tips. I could see Everett getting nervous, but he would not let his nerves get the better of him before his class.
I told Everett, “You watch Christopher, and no one else, how to stand and face the judge.” Christopher received 5th place in poultry showmanship at the Minnesota State Fair last year.
When Everett’s class for showmanship came, Nathan and I watched Everett come into his own, and I thought of all the people who helped Everett along the way.
Our neighbor, who gave Everett the love of chickens. Every time we would go to her house, he would ask if he could go to the chicken coop. Another neighbor, who dropped off pop cans for Everett to turn in for chicken feed. A third neighbor, who gave Everett a chicken carrier he found at a second hand store.
The poultry barn manager at the Morrison County Fair, who was so patient and kind with Everett by answering all of his questions. The other poultry moms, who helped Everett by sharing encouraging words before his first time showing chickens. So many people helped Everett with this project.
When Everett was awarded Junior Showmanship Champion, all the emotions of the people who helped Everett along the way came flooding in.
When the judge explained why, the main reason was: “This young man takes his time, it isn’t a race. He makes sure they are set up just right before he takes them out of the cage.”
Remember how I was rushing Everett the morning of the fair? Yes, Everett reminded me of this, “see Mom, you don’t rush chickens.”