Fur & Feathers: Lisa Steele Q&A On "Let's Hatch Chicks!"
A Blog Review of a New Kid's Book on A Chick's Life in the Egg, Plus Tips & Tricks for Families Wanting to Hatch Baby Chicks This Spring!
Congratulations to natural chicken keeper and Green Goo ambassador Lisa Steele from Fresh Eggs Daily for publishing her first children’s book, “Let’s Hatch Chicks,” with illustrations by Perry Taylor! We recently got a copy to review. The story of Violet and her chicks is sweet, the photos are compelling, and this book is not only educational for kids, but also extremely informative for adults. Have you ever wanted to learn about what exactly is going on during the three weeks your baby chicks are growing in their eggs? Even Lisa Steele didn’t know until she did extensive research to write the book. “Let’s Hatch Chicks” offers a day-by-day look at what’s going on in that egg, and Lisa gives countless helpful tips and tricks to both help you hatch the eggs and then care for the chicks after they are born. You can find the book and also Green Goo’s Poultry First Aid Set and Animal First Aid at Tractor Supply Co. stores around the United States. Enjoy our latest Q&A with one of America’s top natural chicken keepers. Oh, and the first three photos in this blog are of the real Violet and her chicks, courtesy of Lisa Steele!
Green Goo: What inspired you to write this book?
Lisa Steele: When hatching eggs, I imagine kids getting so bored; it’s like three weeks of nothing happening. You wake up and the eggs look the same as they did the day before. I felt like there needed to be a book out there where the kids could follow along with what going on for the three weeks the chicks are growing inside the egg. Whether teachers or home schoolers or family hatching eggs or 4H club, the kids could follow along with the whole process. I can’t imagine a kid staring at an egg that is doing nothing! I think it’s amazing that an egg turns into a chick in three weeks. I also thought it would be a great handbook for teachers to follow when teaching the hatching process. And it’s a way that families can get involved with the process, educating themselves and their children along the way.
GG: What was the most interesting thing you learned while writing this book?
LS: I had to go to the Brinsea Incubator Company to get the information I needed to write the book. I was surprised when I started looking that there wasn’t a single book that went through each day of a chick's life in the egg. It was really hard to find the information! But they sent me a chart describing that process. I personally didn’t know what was happening each day, what day the chick’s heart started eating and what day different things formed. I’ve hatched so many batches of chicks, and I know the process once they are out of the egg. It fascinated me to learn about what develops each day. It kept me interested in the whole process. I’ve had numerous adults tell me they also learned a lot!
GG: What was one of the biggest challenges to writing the book?
LS: The hardest part was getting the language down to a kindergarten grade reading level… to get the ideas across without using language that kids wouldn’t understand.
GG: What’s the best way to go about starting the process of hatching chickens?
LS: I definitely recommend starting with baby chicks first. Sometimes people get adult hens. They are not as friendly. So for your kids, I would say start with baby chicks from the feed store. Get comfortable with raising those babies and then think about hatching your own. It can be stressful, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. But as long as your comfortable raising chicks, go for it!
GG: What are the three things you recommend to families wanting to raise baby chicks?
LS: Read a lot of books and magazines to get comfortable with the process; get your supplies ready; and before you get your chicks, understand the whole process! For example, your chicks will have to be in the house for a while. Familiarize yourself with the the first two or three months with feeding and keeping them warm. For chicks and ducklings it’s the same process, but I don’t like to do them together because ducks make a huge water mess, and they grow faster and don’t need heat for as long. It’s the same process, but it happens at a different speed. Do them together side by side, but not together in the same space. Once you’re raised chicks you can have ducklings.
GG: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when raising chicks for the first time?
LS: One of the biggest is they get the chicks too early. All the hatcheries try to preempt the others and start trying to sell chicks too early. But if it’s still winter, you might get a foot of snow next week! I wouldn’t want to get baby chicks in the winter because in eight weeks they’ll be the size of pigeons and they’ll still be in your house because of the bad weather outside! In eight weeks when you want them out of the house, it needs to be warm enough (in the 60s) on a consistent basis. Consider where you live, the climate, when you really want to start. I know it’s so hard to wait. But you do not want a two-month old chick in your house.
Another mistake people consistently make is underestimating predators. Consider a predator everything from your neighbor’s dog to hawks, snakes and rats. You need a super burly pen, and don’t just let the chicks wander around your yard. Though most predators come out at nighttime, foxes, hawks, and dogs will eat them during the day! Finally, I can’t believe how many people do so little preparation! I have people reach out to me to say they’ve had a chicken sitting on her eggs for three weeks, and they have done zero preparation! “What do I do?” They ask me!
Instead of writing Lisa Steele just before your chicks are hatched, check out her new kid’s book, “Let’s Hatch Eggs” or any number of her other books. Find them at her website, FreshEggsDaily.com.