Uh oh.

I’m out of scratch.  I know that puts me on the list of “WORST CHICKEN KEEPERS EVER”.  Actually, I didn’t know that until the chickens pointed it out.

Last night, when we went out to try to convince the chickens that it was time to go inside for the night, we did our usual routine.  I went into coop yelling “CHICK CHICK CHICK!!!  COME ON GUYS!” in my ridiculously high-pitched, sing-song voice and sat down on my usual spot on an upside down livestock waterer that we placed in the corner of the run to put nesting boxes on.   The chickens, came barreling into the coop (most of them anyway, a few INSIST on being holdouts) and led by the incorrigible Vinnie.   Vinnie looked at me with one eye and came waddling over to see what treat I had for them.  Usually, I sit there with a container of scratch or snacks to entice the little darlings to move their fluffy butts and get inside before they’re eaten by a Sasquatch.  Vinnie came over and looked at me expectantly and chortled and whistled.  I held out my empty hands which he inspected thoroughly with one eye and then he looked at me again like he couldn’t believe it.  By this time, I had several others waiting for treats too. They stretched their necks out very long and it was quite obvious that they knew it should be treat time and WHY didn’t I have any?  Vinnie pecked at my rings a few times, whistled and muttered to himself and finally went to check out the feeder because SURELY I had put something delicious in there because darn it…IT’S TREAT TIME.

No treats.  Out of scratch.  I tried to explain it to Opal the Buff Orpington who seemed to be watching and listening intently.  She finally gave a half-hearted few peep/clucks and she too wandered away to check the feeder.

It seemed that disappointment was hanging thick in the air.

I tried to explain and one by one, they all went back outside, completely disregarding my repeated “I’M SORRY!!!!”.

Apparently being eaten by a Sasquatch is better than not getting a treat.

So, I’m sitting in the coop…all by myself at this point…looking at my phone and trying to figure out how I was going to redeem myself and how I could convince them that they should come inside.  Tom walked into the coop as I was sitting there…with the place completely void of chickens…and kind of looked at me like I’d lost my mind because I was sitting in a chicken coop in a corner reading Facebook.  Hey…there’s important stuff on there…I have to keep up.

I explained the scratch dilemma and he went outside to suggest that they come (read as: SCARE THEM) back into the coop.

No dice. They merrily flapped and ran around the run.  No treat…no bedtime is apparently the thought process.   Can I use “thought process” in a sentence about chickens?  I’m not sure they HAVE a process for thinking.  I think they just have a big picture of a bag of scratch in their heads.

Anyway, I remembered a big bag of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer.  Hmmmm….I mentioned it to Tom that maybe they’d like some vegetables!  I bet they come right in!  Tom stood there for a minute and then said

“Do you want me to go make them vegetables?”

“Oh…you don’t have to do that…”

And he trudged back to the house because he’s the worlds best husband (Hi, Honey!!).

I filled the plates with vegetables, so incredibly proud of myself for remembering that we had such a nice treat in the freezer and making a mental note to pick 543 more bags of vegetables.  I set the plates on the floor and resumed my “CHICK CHICK CHICK”ing…(maybe it annoys them too…maybe it’s not just the neighbors thinking a cat is being killed in their yard).

Nothing happened.  I looked at Tom, he looked at me.  I PROMISED him that once they saw the heaping plates of vegetables they’d scoot right inside.

Nothing.

Finally Vinnie stuck his head in the door and chortled with a question mark at the end. You know what I mean, right?  He spied the full plates and made another noise in his throat and eight chickens showed up and all tried to squeeze into the coop at once.

YESSSSSS!  I knew the other four would follow once these clowns came in.

They all stood in the doorway, crammed together, looking at the plates.  Vinnie took one step and suddenly became the world’s tallest, skinniest chicken.

I like to change the words of songs so they fit situations.  When we first got the chicks, we noticed that whenever they’re afraid, they get VERY tall and skinny, so I replaced the words to “If You’re Happy and You Know it” with the following:  (please sing along)

If your neck is long and skinny, you’re afraid.

If your neck is long and skinny, you’re afraid.

If your neck is long and skinny and your eyes are small and beady,

If your neck is long and skinny you’re afraid!!

My daughter thinks I’m a musical genius.  You should hear what I do with Pharrell’s “Happy”.

Vinnie eyed the vegetables suspiciously and took a step again while viewing the vegetables with one eye and whistling softly to himself.  The rest of the chickens that had followed him inside were also very tall and skinny and took a step toward the vegetables too…practically in unison.

chicken veg 1

They were AFRAID of the vegetables.

I couldn’t believe it.  I expected full-on chicken mayhem when they saw them and all they could do was view them from a distance so that they didn’t pass out from terror.  They circled the plates, edging ever closer…and closer…and then someone would move too fast and they’d all get tall and skinny again.  Sigh.  Always the weird animals.  Always ME.

I kept encouraging and coaxing and finally Vinnie stepped all the way up to a plate and got a good close-up look.  Hmmm…he took a corn kernel and scurried away. I watched him as he dropped it and looked at it with one eye and then tasted it again and dropped it and he soon had the undivided attention of the rest of the flock.  He munched it up with his beak and swallowed.  I held my breath.  He cocked his head back at the plate and went back to check it out again…hmmmm…he tried a carrot..and another piece of corn…and then more corn.   Maybe these weren’t the killer vegetables that he’d heard about after all.

The other chicks were now a little frantic because they were afraid of the new vegetables but Vinnie seemed to be enjoying them and WHAT the HECK should they do about that?  Finally, they all approached cautiously and started tasting vegetables.

chicken veg 2

What followed was like a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds.  Absolute chicken hysteria.  They pounced on the plate like they’d never seen food before and that this was likely the LAST time they’d get any.  Corn, peas and carrots were flying, everyone was whistling, clucking and peeping, and if one ran away with a choice piece of the snack, you’d better believe there were two or three hot on the trail.  The other plate sat largely untouched because they were SO obsessed with this plate, that they hadn’t even noticed there were two.  I moved the second plate so that it was in view of the run door because there were still a few outside that were defying the odds that they’d be eaten by a Sasquatch.

All of sudden, a beak and two beady eyes appeared at the doorway, followed by the others in the run.  They watched the vegetable carnage occurring in the coop and didn’t take much convincing that they’d better hustle their downy butts inside RIGHT NOW or they weren’t getting any of WHATEVER that scary stuff was.  The vegetable madness continued (I was proud of myself for thinking of the vegetables and was all puffed up like a toad) and the others leapt right into the fray.  Carrots seemed to be the prized item from the piles of vegetables and so there was quite a bit of arguing about who got them…even though there were TONS of them still on the plate, obviously the BEST one is being held in the beak of someone else who is running away like their feathers are on fire.

As the last one stepped its scaly toes into the run, Tom quickly closed the run door.

AHA!  I triumphantly ran over to close the door tightly and the chickens realized for a moment that they’d been had and then went back to the carrot argument.  They were completely obsessed with the plates of vegetables.

We’d gotten them in early, actually, so we watched them for a bit as they careened around the coop chasing each other to try to steal each other’s carrots.

I’m always happy and content when I put them to bed at night.  I could have sat in the coop watching them for hours, but Tom reminded me that when we’d left the house, Emma was in the shower and by this time she most probably had used half the water in Evansville.  We gathered up the empty vegetable container and as I was leaving the coop, I took one last look back to where they were squabbling at each other about carrots and sucking down green beans.

I’m buying those things by the PALLET.

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