My chickens were my first babies. We have had chickens since before any of my children were born. I'd always dreamed of farm fresh eggs from backyard hens, and when my husband surprised me one day with a small coop and four chickens, I was elated.
Our family began soon after, and when my daughter was just one week old, we had her out in the yard meeting the chickens. Then when she was old enough to be mobile, she learned how to walk by chasing them around the yard. Those chickens were her first friends, and important members of our family. I know the usual household pets are dogs, cats, maybe a hampster, but the chickens have taught my children so much. They've learned responsibility and care of others, as it is their job to feed, water, and collect the eggs each day. They've also learned appreciation for the life cycle and for other beings.
I love chickens so much because they give the gift of an egg each day! Cats and dogs only gift you with poop you have to pick up! Not only do our farm-fresh eggs provide my family and my children with the best nutrition, it's also been a lesson in symbiotic relationships--because we give such good care to our chickens, they show their appreciation by providing us with delicious eggs.
Additionally, it teaches valuable lessons in the care of living beings and the life cycle of animals. We've incubated eggs and raised chicks from broody hens, and supporting their life and growth has taught my children the lesson of how beautiful yet fragile life is. We've also lost many beloved chickens to predators (hawks, foxes, sickness) and overcoming these losses has taught my children resilience and the importance of life.