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Mother Hen for Hire

Savannah Story

For many youngsters, babysitting is a time-honored starter job. Sacramento teen Savannah Story is getting her first work experience in a slightly different way: as a baby-chick sitter.

The 14-year-old recently hung out a shingle (OK, she actually posted a flier on the fence of her family’s East Sac home) advertising her services. For $30, she will raise a chick from a defenseless 2-day-old covered in fluff to a fully grown 10-weekold ready to live with other chickens in an outdoor coop.

The Brookfield eighth-grader has a lot of experience caring for chicks. She was only 3 when her mother started keeping chickens in the backyard. At first, Story entertained the family fowl by pushing them in the front yard swing and taking them on wagon rides. Eventually, she assumed most of the family’s chicken-keeping duties.

Then she realized she could put her poultry knowledge to good use by offering her services to people who want backyard chickens but don’t want the hands-on work of raising them from baby chicks to adulthood. “They need a lot of care,” Story says, noting that chicks have to be kept indoors until they’re at least 6 weeks old. “They need water, food, a heat lamp, and you have to clean their cage.”

They also need that essential mothering ingredient: love. Story plays classical music for the chicks and lets them sit on her lap while she does homework. When they’re 6 weeks old, she takes them outside to a fenced-in pen and allows them to run around on the grass. For socialization, she introduces them to her family’s flock and supervises to make sure they don’t get pecked on. By the time the chicks are 10 weeks old, they’re ready to go to their permanent home.

Story simply loves her fowl charges. “Chickens are my favorite animal,” she says.

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