Who says chickens are dumb? ….well, that might have been me…..but a funny thing happened this morning that makes me wonder if maybe chickens are just pretending to be dumb so that we don’t expect too much of them.
We have always had chickens around on our farm. We occasionally raise broilers for ourselves and a few neighbors so that we can have big fat turkey sized chickens to eat in the fall. We always have a few hens around. We call them laying hens, which would lead you to believe that they lay eggs. However, most of them are now so geriatric that it’s cause for celebration when we do find the occasional egg in our barn. I think senility may also be a problem for some of these old ladies, because occasionally we will find an egg that was layed beside the road, or near the watering bowl. It’s as if they couldn’t remember why they came to this spot in the yard, so decided that it must have been to lay an egg. We even found one right outside our kitchen door a few weeks ago. That was great, I thought that the hens had decided to start delivering their produce to our house. Turns out I was wrong, it only happened once. She probably forgot why she was there.
In the past, we have just fed our chickens regular chicken food that we buy at the Co-Op farm supply store. We would occasionally throw them some garden scraps when we thought of it, but they have mostly just had full access to bagged chicken feed. Not too exciting.
For the past two weeks I have made a conscious effort to put all the breakfast scraps and watermelon rinds into an old bucket and throw them to the chickens in the morning after the kids leave for school. In the beginning I noticed that they really seemed to like this. There was a lot of crowing and clucking whenever I came with my yellow bucket.
As the days progressed, I noticed that the chickens would start getting excited when I was in the yard. They are in a fenced in area, but if they want to they can apparently fly right over the gate if they think you might have a treat for them.
Well, now it’s gotten out of control. If the chickens hear a human voice in our yard they come over the fence and follow you around just waiting for you to give them a treat. I had no idea that chickens were this easy to train!
This morning, two of our kids had just walked out the door to leave for school when the phone rang. “Mom, can you come do something about your chickens? They have surrounded my truck and two of them are underneath it, I don’t want to run them over.”
I went to the window to see our 11-year-old daughter trying with very little success to chase senile old hens away from her brother’s truck. It was the funniest thing I have seen so far today. Our border collie was trying his best to help her, but he has very little effect on these old girls. I have seen them chase him away from his own food dish.
I picked up my scrap bucket and walked out to the yard. Sure enough, they all came running … except one, who had forgotten why she was there.