Joyce Stuber and Frank, a resident at Masterpiece Southland Meadows, watch on in delight as one of the chicks nestles into Frank’s hand.NEWS PHOTO KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published 08:33 May 05, 2022

By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The lobby of Masterpiece Southland Meadows was aflutter Wednesday morning as residents and staff gathered round to greet newly hatched chicks.

The chicks, which began hatching Tuesday, are part of Dunmore Equestrian Centre’s Paws and Hooves program, first reported in the News on April 19.

Approximately 80 eggs were distributed between four Medicine Hat seniors’ homes; Masterpiece Southland Meadows, Good Samaritan South Ridge Village, Chinook Village and South Country Village. Program director, and director of Dunmore Equestrian, Joyce Stuber hopes to have upwards of 40 chicks – a barnyard mix – successfully hatch.

Stuber was on hand Wednesday, to show Masterpiece staff and residents proper chick handling techniques and share information about the hatching process. Throughout the four-week hatching program, Stuber has found many residents eager to engage and learn.

“They’re loving it. They have come down and sat there for 21 days, watching and making sure the temperature’s right, the humidity is right; they’ve all become experts,” Stuber told the News. “It’s good because it gives them something to focus on.”

Masterpiece staff are glad their residents can take part in the hatching program, which is offered alongside other animal therapy programs.

“It’s been such a huge hit with the residents,” said Alysha Isberg, lifestyles co-ordinator at Masterpiece. “It gives them a socializing point, it gives them somewhere to congregate and something to look forward to really.

“We’ve given them the opportunity to watch the eggs and control the heat, so they have taken on a little bit of job responsibility. It’s not only educating them; it’s really getting them more actively involved within the building.”

Many of the home’s residents were once producers, who would regularly interact with farm animals. Even residents new to farm animals have enjoyed the hatching countdown.

“I was waiting for them,” said Frank, one of the home’s residents.

“They’re so amusing,” said Patricia. “It’s amazing. They’re so tiny and they’re cute, aren’t they?”

Residents weren’t the only ones marvelling at the chicks, staff and resident family members bonded over the experience as well.

“Even families coming in with small kids get to see this,” said Isberg. “And then their grandparents get to sit there and explain to them what’s happening.”

Following the egg hatching program’s success, Stuber is working on another hatching program – caterpillars to butterflies – scheduled to begin in late May.

This item reprinted with permission from Medicine Hat News, Medicine Hat, Alberta