Sunday, June 7, 2009

In which the hens show what "opportunistic omnivores" really do

Most people think of hens as vegetarians, because, you know, they eat "grain and stuff."


Actually, chickens will eat just about anything that won't eat them first.


Worms are a big favorite, but they also love bugs, grubs, weeds, seeds, and absolutely ANYTHING that a human might consider edible. Sometimes when you eat are eating eggs, it might be better to not think about what chickens eat. It's not always pretty.


Today I decided to demonstrate that our chickens are not so much "barnyard fowl" as much as "piranhas with feathers."



Exhibit A: a bowl of food scraps. Specifically, some watermelon, some watermelon rind, an overcooked cob of corn, and some of the crumbs left at the bottom of the chip bag.


Exhibit B: a few seconds after dumping the food scraps from the bowl into the chicken pen.




Exhibit C:

less than 10 minutes after dumping the food scraps into the chicken pen. The rind of the melon is gone--all that remains is the skin. The corn cob is stripped bare. The chip crumbs are gonegonegone.

Now, they want dessert.





Flowers around the farm continue to bloom,


despite my complete neglect of them.

The only thing I've done in support of flowers thus far is to walk by and take photos.




(and, in the case of the Peace roses,


cutting a few blooms for the kitchen window).





Oh, look! My Giant Pumpkins are sprouting! Hooray!







Jim and I took the mares out for a few hours this afternoon.


Even the clearcuts are full of green plants that are growing like crazy right now. There are fir tree seedlings, and also alder trees, foxgloves, and (of course) blackberry vines.

Fiddle really looks tall in this photo. Okay, she is tall. But not that tall. I stick-measured her in the spring, on her 7th birthday: she is 15.3 hands high. That's all, I swear. She doesn't seem that big when I'm riding her. From the ground, she looks like a really big girl. I wish I had that problem.




In the woods, the salmonberries are so big! I've never seen them this big and sweet before--a result of our recent bout of sunshine. Sunshine is pretty rare for spring in the Swamplands, and usually salmonberries are sour and bitter, but these actually tasted pretty good. We did some extensive sampling during the ride, just to make sure.




We weren't the only onces eating the salmonberries. Jim took this photo less than a half-mile from the parking lot. The doe looks fat and happy, and didn't mind sharing the berry patch with us.

5 comments:

  1. Will yours eat banana slugs? We used to have chickens in Vancouver and I would try to feed them banana slugs every once in a while, but they would take one peck and then run around wiping their beaks on things.

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  2. You need to get your clucks to pose for some photos so I can try to paint them. Your flowers are beautiful. Mom

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  3. They are also cannibals and will eat chicken carcasses and egg shells, both of which help harden the shells of the eggs they lay. I kept chicken many moons ago when I lived in Pennsylvania.

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  4. When we were children, my brother used to take his unwanted dinner (he was picky)out to the backyard, lie down and spread his dinner on his shirt. He'd lie really still and the banty hens would swarm over him and eat every last crumb off him. It made my mom furious because the hens would also eat the buttons off his shirt.

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  5. dp: so far they aren't very interested in slugs, but the chicken I had many years ago considered them a great delicacy. Perhaps it's an acquired taste, and my hens will learn to savor the little squelchers?

    mom: will try chicken photos this weekend. no promises, but what the heck....

    leah fry: mcnuggets barely count as "chicken" but our hens love them. Yuck. We'll probably feed oyster shell for the shell-hardening characteristic, since oyster shells are easy to come by here in the Swamplands. No need to teach cannibalism if it's not needful, right?

    kim: I'm gonna try that with the food scraps on me....might be an excellent photo op, too!

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