In the At Home with Martin & Sylvia story “The Chicken Coop,” spring has sprung on the Browns' farm, and this year, one of their hens is going to have chicks. Sylvia is particularly excited and counts the days until they will hatch. But when a wind storm blows through and damages the brooding coop, brother and sister have a single day to help the Browns make repairs before the chicks arrive!
Can I tell you about the time our family had a hen raise a flock of chicks? It was the sweetest thing!
Our favorite hen, Gladys, was determined to become a mother, so we slipped some adopted chicks under her feathers while she slept one night. In the morning, she was convinced that she had hatched the chicks herself, and she mothered them diligently all spring. When the chicks were tiny, she would take them for short forays out into the yard, but she was always prepared to stop what she was doing and plop down to let the babies snuggle when they would get cold or scared. While Gladys has been gone for several years now, it makes me warm and fuzzy, to this day, to think that she felt safe and happy enough in our little coop to raise her brood here.
This week's craft project is about hens and chicks, too — but the plant kind, not the bird kind.
“Hens and chicks," a variety of succulents from the Sempervivum or Echeveria genus, are so named because they reproduce by creating tiny offset plants. When they're well-cared-for, the mother plants or “hens” will make a string of baby “chick” plants that will trail down whatever vessel they're planted in — just like a flock of baby chickens following their mama through the yard.
While you could plant your hens and chicks in many different containers — because they're cute and plentiful at our house at this time of year — I think an outgrown pair of rain boots is just adorable with a bevy of hens and chicks sprouting out of the top.
If you've got a spare set of boots and a spring longing for hens and chicks, read on!
Rainy Boot “Hens and Chicks” Planters
1 pair of outgrown rain boots
Pocket knife or sharp scissors
A few handfuls of pebbles or rocks
Cactus or succulent potting soil
Several small Sempervivum or Echeveria plants
Succulent plants need good drainage, so begin by having an adult use a pocketknife to poke several holes in each of the boots. Poke several holes in the bottom of the boots, then poke a few more in the upper portion of the rubber.
Now fill the boots almost to the top with the potting soil. Then, break the plants out of their pots and use your fingers to gently break up the roots.
Add the plants so that they poke out of the top of the boots, then top off the soil to secure the plants. Water sparingly.
If it's still cold where you are, these plants will need to be kept inside. I suggest putting a boot tray — or even an old, rusty baking sheet to keep with the recycled vibe — underneath them to keep water from seeping out.
Once all danger of frost is past, they can be relocated to an outdoor stoop. Continue to water them sparingly through the summer, and see if you can't get your mama-plant “hens” to make some little “chicks” of their own.
If you liked this tutorial, here are others you might enjoy:
Not yet a subscriber? Try a free trial HERE.