Every morning I am greeted joyfully by ten of the goofiest, sweetest ladies. It’s not me they are happy to see. Its what I represent. Not fresh-cracked corn. They won’t touch the stuff. Bird seed or chicken pellets? They’ll eat them, but that will not gain me status.
Chickens are like chubby dinosaurs with bonnets and petticoats. I remember when they were still in the brooder. It was springtime and we were preparing the garden. We tossed a grub in to see what they would do. Those cute fuzzies dove on that grub with a bloodlust that can only be found in nature. Every time we appeared again near the brooder, they would go crazy – anticipating another grub delivery. I think they got that out of their system, roaming the yard all summer. Rolling logs, digging flower beds and assaulting every moving object within range, they did a great job caring for the lawn. This fall preparing the beds for winter, I found a few grubs and tossed them out to the chickens. They pecked and moved on. Just another moment in a day of foraging. No anticipation. No bloodlust, No status.
One night I was cooking burgers out on the grill. The chickens were making their final rounds in the back yard before heading back to the coop for the night. Now I bet you’re thinking ewww God! You fed them beef? No. Accidently, I dropped a piece of cheese. One chick pecked at it and then went wild. The others ran to it and it turned to frenzy. Cheese? Really.
I ran into the house and grabbed some shredded cheese, and tossed it around. The frenzy amplified. When I was out of cheese, they looked disappointed and somberly made their way back to the coop. The next morning, when I let them out, they circled me with an expectant buzz. “You think I have cheese?” Heads tilting back and forth, examining my hands for possible goods.
These chickens are cheese hounds. They beg for it! Sweets, my favorite in a troupe of ten, believes she has trained me. Perhaps she has. She’ll sit on my foot and arch her back waiting for me to pet her. When done, she looks on expectantly. I am a sucker. She often gets what she’s seeking.
I’ve noticed something. More cheese means more eggs. It’s an unspoken contract. If I show up with salad scraps (they love tomatoes too), I can account on about 5 eggs that day. Bird seed or cracked corn? Maybe 5. Cheese? 8 eggs easily.
I’ve experimented. Cheddar has it’s fans, The two Reds will knock the others away for that. Asagio? Not much of a draw. Shredded mozzarella? That’s the favorite. Maybe because they look and feel like little grubs. Who knows. At least I have my status back among these goofy, lovely ladies.
This post was submitted by Tom Magadieu.