There comes a time in the career of every modern mother-writer when her offspring discover the fruits of her pen (or, in this case, keyboard). To be honest, I thought I had a few more years before that time came for me. But, you know, kids these days.
    A couple nights ago, Dan typed my name into the Google search bar and found my blog, which includes a listing of every newspaper column or blog post I have ever written. He read every story that mentioned his name.
    There were tears and laughs. And, then there were questions.
    “Mom, why haven’t you written about my chickens?”
    I didn’t have a good answer for Dan, and I’m always open to suggestions for column topics, so …  about those chickens.
    Two years ago, Dan started showing chickens at our county fair. I’ve mentioned before that our children can choose another livestock species to show besides dairy. Our only requirement is that the species fit inside a cage. Exhibiting dairy cattle is a monumental amount of work. A second species needs to be easy to care for at the fair. The cage provision also makes housing them easier on the farm. The only two animals that fit in cages are poultry and rabbits.
    Anyway, Dan learned a lot that first year showing chickens. So did his parents. His first poultry exhibit was a breeding pen of silkie chickens. If you’re not familiar with them, silkies are an ornamental chicken bred purely for, well, because they look cool. They’re a bantam breed so their eggs aren’t big enough to bother cracking, and they really aren’t big enough for the stew pot.
    After the show, I casually suggested that maybe next year he consider showing market chickens. First, we could actually eat market chickens. Second, there were hardly any entries in the market chicken class compared to dozens in the bantam breeding pen class.
    So, last year, Dan showed up at our county fair with two snow-white Cornish-Rock cross market chickens. Clearly, several other 4-Hers had the same idea because there were pens of meat birds, as well.
    The weeks prior to the fair had been spent perfecting the process of chicken pampering. Market chickens, Dan learned, need just enough feed, but not too much, a lot of fresh water, and a clean, cool environment. Dan earned a blue ribbon and then a grand champion ribbon with his plump, pampered birds.
    Following the fair, we had an old-fashioned, three-generation work day and put the chickens in the freezer. Glen’s dad and mom came over to help with the plucking and processing.
    Admittedly, it was a hard day for Dan. He was OK for the most part, but really wanted to keep one pair of chickens so he wouldn’t have to say goodbye to all of them. The year before, Dan’s silkies had simply been released to free-range with the rest of our chickens.
    I consoled him with the offer that perhaps in the future he could show laying hens or another breeding pen.
    Well, Dan didn’t forget my offer. He moved his first order of fair chickens from the brooder to the superhutch-turned-chicken coop. This first order has chicks for a brown egg layer pen, white egg layer pen and a breeding pen. His broiler chicks will come early this summer. In other words, the chicken business is getting pretty serious around here.
    You could also say that we have one pretty excited 4-Her here. Dan joined the 4-H Poultry Project Bowl this spring with the goal of learning more about chickens so he could do better in poultry showmanship. His team did well, and he made some great new friends.
    I have a feeling the county fair poultry show is going to be even more fun this year for Dan with his expanded knowledge and expanded group of friends.
    P.S. I’ve found that blue ribbon chickens are best prepared in an air fryer. After roasting several birds in the oven, I decided to try cooking one in our air fryer. It was one of my best decisions ever. We now feast on the most delicious chicken with juicy meat and crispy skin.
    Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have three children – Dan, 11, Monika, 8, and Daphne, 5. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at sadiefrericks@gmail.com