Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Kids and Chores...
Look here! One of my pullets is starting to lay. This is the third egg she has lain this week, one each day so far. I'm waiting to see how many more will lay. It shouldn't be long before all 24 of them start laying and then we will be absolutely swamped with eggs from old laying hens and new laying hens. I do think I might have found a home for my old hens this fall so that'll be nice.
This picture of my hand-washed eggs and the tiny pullet egg in the middle reminds me of the days when our kids were young and had chores to do. Washing eggs was one of them. There were eggs to collect, chickens to feed and water, dishes to wash and dry, floors to sweep, hay to pitch, horses to saddle, and many other things, right down to feeding the cats. Some chores were fairly easy and relatively painless, but other chores were never-ending or very demanding. It wouldn't be long before a child lost interest or just got sick of doing the same old things over and over again.
Just the other day I received my Mother Earth News magazine and read an excellent article called: Transform Children’s Chores into Small Businesses. It was so good that I read it aloud to Hubby during our morning coffee time. We both agreed that the author was spot on when it came to kids and chores. In a nutshell, he encourages us to find ways to make chores into small businesses that kids can run on their own. Perhaps there might be a little start-up help from parents, but his advice is to allow the child to sink or swim with his or her endeavor.
I remember back when we had a milk cow. Goldie came fresh each spring and she always had enough milk for her calf and another calf, and then there was a little extra milk on top of that which came into the house. I strained it and we drank it and made the best puddings with it. The kids took turns milking the cow and it really was the dreaded chore because she needed to be milked morning and night at about the same time each day. The milking chore lasted all spring and through most of the summer. If you've ever milked a cow in summer, you know what a drudgery it can be. Tail swishing flies, fresh poop to scoop, flies in the grain, hot and sweaty being up-close-and-personal with a warm bodied cow. You get the picture. As time went on, no one wanted the job of milking the cow or tending to the calves until one day Hubby announced that whoever wanted to milk the cow would receive the money from the sale of the calves in the fall. Wow, everything changed then! All the kids wanted in on the action. So in the fall, they all earned a little something for their efforts.
One of our sons decided he wanted to start an egg business. He was about 10 years old at the time. He found a few local customers, took orders, and tended to the chickens. I helped him get started and he did the rest for quite some time. The money was good and the chickens were fairly simple to care for. But then that little business fell back into my hands because something better came along. Aunt Betty wanted to sell her small herd of sheep. Two of our children emptied their bank accounts to buy the sheep which were lambing in December at the time, a less than ideal time to lamb, but Aunt Betty made them a good deal. From that time on, the kids had their own sheep business and that little band of ewes allowed them to buy used cars, buy cows, and go to college. It was one of the best small businesses ever. Eventually we bought the ewes as the kids moved on in their lives, and I still say it's one of the best small businesses ever, even for adults. The input cost is very minimal and the income is pretty darn good when you consider you get two crops -- wool and lambs.
We shared the article above with our own kids who have young families. I hoped they'd be encouraged by it. Our daughter talked with me about it and said it wasn't quite so practical for her children since they lived in town. I disagreed. There are money earning opportunities wherever you live. We then discussed ideas that might work for them. I mentioned baking goodies or breads, and OnlyDaughter said, "Oh, you know what? One of my friends has an 11 year old daughter who takes orders for homemade bread every week. She loves to bake bread and she sells it as her own little cottage industry." The wheels began spinning in her mind and we came up with lots of ideas: growing and selling pumpkins, a paper route, making rice crispy treats to sell at Daddy's feed store, growing flowers to sell, shoveling snow, and the list went on.
When I was a young girl, my friends and I were always trying to figure out a way to make a dime. We put on plays, sold pumpkins, made kleenex flowers to sell door to door, shoveled snow, and whatever else we could think up -- and we were little squirts then. As my siblings and I got older, we all had jobs. I cleaned homes and cleaned rooms for a hotel. I also worked at a drive-in cooking. So I say, you don't have to live in the country to earn money or have your own small business. Find a need or find something you're good at and just do it!
Did you ever have a small business as a child or teen? How about your own children, did they find ways to earn their own money? What do you think about children turning chores into cottage industries? Please post in the comments. I encourage you to read the article and share it.