Wednesday, November 18, 2009
An early Thanksgiving snack.
The girls started today with a lovely breakfast treat. Since our garden was so prolific this year, they have had the fortune of sampling some of the finer things we couldn't bring ourselves to finish. The last of the patty pan and flying saucer summer squash were devoured from the inside out just last week. They peck a hole in the skin and seek out the fleshy, sweet, juicy center and seeds. It's quite a project. Thinking that this talent for eating squash would translate to our overloaded supply of pumpkins, I tossed in a French Cinderella pumpkin a few days ago. They stared at it, they pecked gingerly, and then they walked away to find their bucket of feed. I watched, I waited, and today I finally went out with a sharp knife and cut the pumpkin down the center. Norma Jean was the first to see the perfect pumpkin seeds spilling out onto the hay. The rest was history.
Chickens also apparently have a "sweet beak." It's like a sweet tooth, but since hens don't have teeth... Their favorite treat by far is strawberry tops. Since the fresh berry season is over, this morning's strawberries will most likely be the last. In addition to strawberry tops and pumpkins, the girls have also recently devoured broccoli stems, beet greens, and some slightly undesirable lettuce. Outside time is now at a premium, and the girls anxiously await any chance to escape their enclosure and peck through the dirt and grass. They had just such an opportunity yesterday afternoon. I was burning lathe from the walls in the upstairs of our house (yes, burnin' down the house) in our old barbecue grill, so I could keep a watchful eye on the chickens as they made their way around the lawn. Ingrid soon found herself separated from the flock and sounded the most pathetic squawk I have ever heard. No one answered her, so it was up to me to herd her back to the coop. So much for flock loyalty, I guess.
I would let the girls run free more often if I could, and believe me, there is a lot of guilt about their confinement, but the reality of having chickens in the city boils down to the large number of alley cats in our neighborhood. My biggest fear is one of the girls getting killed by a local predator. There are times when I wish we had a rooster to keep the hens safe, but that's opening another can of worms I cannot abide.