when we first got our chickens, we asked the man who raised them what they liked to eat. he told us what he fed them normally and then sort of leaned away from the coops and conspiratorially whispered to us, “but they loooooooooove hot dogs! that’s their favorite treat. just don’t give it to ‘em to often, cuz it’s like chicken candy!”
over the time we’ve had chickens, lots of people have told us, in tones of hushed reverence almost every time, what their version of “chicken candy” is. and almost without fail, our chickens detested every single one of them.
early on we tried to spoil our girls with dark green leafy vegetables. we almost felt guilty buying them in the store, like someone might guess that the bulging bags of mustard greens and collard greens and kale were going to be fed to birds. i kind of thought we should throw a juicer into the cart so at least we would look like hippy health nuts or something. (like people really look in our grocery cart and analyze our purchases, right? ok: true confession? i totally do that! i look at what other people are buying to see what is on sale that i missed and to get inspiration for things to cook and just to kind of check out what other people are buying. grocery stores are public spaces, right??? ok, i know, that’s pretty lame, but a girl’s gotta have hobbies…) anyhow, our chickens practically gagged when we tried to give them the soul food. they looked at us like, “you don’t expect us to eat this stuff, do you? wanna take it back inside and cook it up nice with some bacon or something?” so the green stuff just laid there and wilted until the crows had mercy on it and carried it away. maybe by that point they thought it was a rotting carcass of some kind…
experiment #2 was along the same lines. this time we got them nice juicy berries. sure i let my kids pick them over first, but it’s not like we only gave them the leftovers. i think maybe i’d seen or read something about how chickens liked to peck around under berry bushes, so i thought, “great! i’ll go spend $4 a pound and get my princesses some berries!” duh- not sure what part about eating buggy fallen rotting berries off the ground i missed, but for some reason i thought they would like fresh berries straight out of the carton. in retrospect i’m rather surprised i didn’t serve it to them in silver bowls with whipped cream on top. again my girls looked and again i think they silently prayed that whatever chicken-raising manual i was reading would burn up in a fire, because i was getting it all so horribly wrong. why couldn’t i just throw them some yummy grubs or something???
but, being the not-gonna-give-up type, i kept asking people with chickens what they gave their chickens for treats. it didn’t occur to me that chickens don’t really need treats. and i kept getting really passionate answers.
bananas! my chickens looked at me as if i’d gone bananas.
cake! my chickens took a tentative peck, perhaps checking to see if there were any tasty worms buried in the odd mushy stuff, but once they figured out that the mushy stuff was all there was, they just angrily turned their backs and stomped off.
split peas! my chickens were like, “are you kidding us with this? why must you torment us so? are we on candid camera? seriously?” but my friend who inherited the rest of the 20 pound bag (you can never say i’m not optimistic!) seemed happy with my chickens’ odd palates.
and today, after all this time, i remembered: hot dogs! so i went outside, all in an excited state, and called the girls. and presented………..drum roll………… the least exciting treat known to the bass family’s chickens yet: hot dogs! my dogs would quite literally allow you to dress them in tutus and paint their nails for a bite of hot dog but my chickens weren’t having any part of the madness. they were downright offended that they got called away from examining a promising pile of dog excrement on the driveway to have to deal with the foul smelling things i held in my hand.
so i tossed it away and gave them some barley.
and that they got on board with.
so you know the nerdy kid in school who brought wheat bread with miso butter to school when everyone else had bologna on wonder bread?
well i guess those kids are my chux.
who apparently don’t like candy.
whereas i myself am a chocolate girl.
just in case you were wondering