Wednesday, July 11, 2007

feeding the chickens & for love of a grape

This past Sunday, I ran out of chick scratch filling up the girls' food container, and that made for 20 pounds of feed they've gone through since we acquired them two months ago. Ten pounds a month at $0.50 a pound makes raising chickens a very affordable hobby. And when they start laying eggs, I think we'll actually be saving money each month (the cost of feed drops as they get older, too).

What's been really fun to notice, though is that our two barred rock chickens are HUGE fans of grapes. Green seedless table grapes, to be exact.

When I'm in the mood to be amused, I'll take a half dozen or so grapes out back and let the girls out of their coop to scratch around the backyard.

After they've spent a few minutes with their typical I'll-follow-you-no-you-follow-me routine looking for bugs in the lawn, I'll make a clicking noise and hold up a grape between index finger and thumb in a modified "OK" sign.

No matter where they are in the yard, 5 feet away or 25 feet away, they literally fly to me to get the prize: first dibs on a juicy green grape to taunt the other chook with.

Then, the winner (generally it's Sophia) will run around the yard with the grape clamped firmly in her beak, looking like some freakish green clown nose, and ZsuZsu in hot pursuit trying to snatch it away.

I'll let the battle rage for a bit before tossing another grape in their direction, and then the contest becomes "who can eat their grape fastest so as to get a new one?"

They deploy different styles trying to get the grape small enough to swallow in one big gulp. Sophia's technique is along the lines of clamp down and shake it to pieces while ZsuZsu pecks bite-sized morsels from the grape until what's left is small enough to swallow.

In all, they usually eviscerate a grape in less than 15 seconds each and then we repeat the whole ritual over again: the OK sign, the chase, the second grape and the swallowing race.

Who knew chickens could be so much fun?

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