The Joys of a Backyard Brood
August 12, 2020

Each month, our Happiness and Wellness Initiative will share "Some Good News" from the SPH and our extended community. You can submit your own good news by email to: happyandwell@umd.edu.

Dina Borzekowski is a research professor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health that travels the globe for her work in the area of children, media and health. COVID-19 thwarted Dina's usual non-stop international travel and allowed her time at home to increase her flock. On April 1, 2020, Dina added five day-old baby chicks to her backyard brood. For the last eight years, Dina has been raising chickens in Takoma Park, MD.  Backyard farming began when Emma Rose, Dina’s oldest child, first persuaded her family to raise chickens. Though it wasn't possible, Emma Rose wanted goats and bees too. Now that Emma Rose has left the nest and is living in Boston, Dina is the “mother hen.” She loves this role.

Each chicken is a member of the family and has a name. The new chicks are Fauci (the chicken pictured above with Dina), Soap, Puzzles, Lightning Bolt and Sunflower. The older chickens are Taylor, Henrietta, Eggplant, Sadie, Fozzie Bear and Oliver. Each has a unique personality reflecting chicken sayings like, rule the roost, pecking order, ruffled feathers, fly the coop and hen-pecked. 

Dina finds comfort and joy in taking care of the chickens, spoiling them with favorite foods like blueberries, kale, leftover bread and even cake! “Even quick visits to the backyard make me happy. The girls make really easy pets. I give them muffins and they give me eggs.” The chickens have several neighborhood enthusiasts, including around a half dozen kids who make daily visits. They play with the chickens and feed them freshly dug worms. Seven-year-old neighbor Maya, fostered (and named) two of the new chicks (Lightning Bolt and Sunflower). The chickens offer friendly and fun learning experiences, especially during the pandemic when kids have fewer activities. A few years back, the chickens even participated in the neighborhood 4th of July parade. The chicken's mobile coop designed float, ‘Poultry in Motion,’ won first prize for Best Animal Group.

Watch a short video of the ‘Poultry in Motion’ float!

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