Gina Mengucci Jenkins moved to The Bahamas several years ago. She is a primary school teacher happily raising three beautiful children (11, 8 and 7), several dogs, cats, multiple guinea pigs…and thirteen chickens.
What made you decide to raise chickens here in the city?
I grew up on a rural farm in Oregon. We always had a huge vegetable garden to feed us over the winter. We canned beans and pears, made applesauce, and froze fresh blueberries.
When I moved to The Bahamas, for two years, I was on a silent protest against the prices of fruit and vegetables. Eventually, I conceded, buying vegetables rather than growing them. I wasn’t familiar with the soil, and I was raising a young family.
With the eggs, I could not give up my dream. I always wanted chickens. I love animals. I love having life around me. We have been raising chickens for five years.
What are your children learning, growing up around chickens?
It’s hard to put into words. I think we probably pay more in chicken feed than we would buying eggs, but we have fresh eggs.
Seren and Eleni Jenkins, hanging out with Chicken
There’s just an indescribable feeling of collecting the eggs. When we go out and grab the eggs, we feel so thankful. We’re taking care of you, and you’re giving us eggs to eat.
The kids have learned responsibility. They feed the chickens and fill up their water. The kids are getting good at catching and holding them when we need to do so.
Right now we have a house chicken, and it’s not the first time.
Chicken, our first house hen, sharing treats with the dogs
One of the hens recently laid in our courtyard area. We found one of her eight chicks off to the side with a missing toe. I’m not sure if a rat got to it. And we are still not sure whether we are raising a “him” or a “her”. We brought the chick inside, applied hydrogen peroxide, and put it in a cat carrier. We hung a feather duster so it felt it was underneath its mummy, and put some Christmas lights and a heating pad inside to keep the chick warm.
The first three nights of the chick’s life were like having a newborn baby. The heating pad had an automatic turnoff, so we had to keep getting up to turn it on.
Eleni named the chick “Warrior.” We think it is a hen. Now Warrior lives in a bigger guinea pig cage with the heating pad and feather duster.
Being around living things teaches our children about the circle of life. The chickens are pets, but also animals that have died, or the dogs have killed.
We try to be as waste-less as possible with food scraps. Between our composting and the chickens, pretty much nothing in our home goes to waste. We have 13 chickens right now. The kids will find a cockroach in the house, and go and throw it to them, and they go kinda mental for it. “Which chicken’s gonna get it?” It’s kind of our song.
I am a teacher. I find so many kids far removed from their food. They eat chicken and think it comes from the grocery store. For me, I feel if you’re going to eat meat, you need to know what animal you are consuming, and where it comes from.
It’s not always easy to buy organic. Raising chickens teaches the kids that the chicken you’re eating is the same one you’re growing. It helps them appreciate the value of what we are choosing to eat.
The most delicious thing about having chickens is how we use our fresh eggs. They just taste amazing. Every few weeks I use the eggs to make homemade pasta, incorporating rosemary and basil from my garden. I sell it to friends.
When we eat, the kids always ask, Is this Mummy’s pasta or the store pasta? They’ve pretty much written off commercial pasta. Now they’re pasta snobs!
Order Gina’s silky, homemade pasta by cell (427-6416) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.