I love my seven girls to the point of distraction. They are endlessly entertaining as they scratch around the yard, looking for bugs and other yummy stuff. But sometimes, just watching isn’t enough. When I get the urge to interact, things get weird … and super fun.
It’s hilarious just to go out with some treats in hand and call them to me across the deck, which also resembles a chicken ice rink as they skid to a stop at my feet and start hopping up and down trying to snatch the treat. (They love what we call “dog log,” chunks of those sausage-shaped dog-food rolls.) But when I really want to mix it up, here are a few activities that are guaranteed to entertain.
1. Chicken Piñata
OK, no, I am not making one of my chickens into a piñata—I’m making a piñata for them. Any round fruit or veggie that they like will do, as long as it’s light enough to really swing when they peck it. Punch a hole through it so you can tie it to a cord or string, and hang it from a low branch a few inches over their heads.
2. Feeding Frenzy
Put a shallow bowl of really messy food—like plain yogurt stirred into leftover plain spaghetti noodles—and stand back. There will be yogurt splattered everywhere, and watching a chicken eating a piece of spaghetti is, well, hilarious. It just is.
3. Fruit Football
This is pretty basic, but rolling a single grape or other small round fruit into the group of chickens will result in one of them grabbing it and the others chasing her around the yard. Eventually, she’ll drop it, and another hen will grab it, and the game continues until the grape has been pecked to shreds. Repeat.
4. Wind-Up Toy Attack
For some reason, I have an absurd amount of strange wind-up toys, including a wind-up mule and a wind-up hyena. Winding them up and turning them all loose among The Girls results in a mad combination of attacking and fleeing. I got ahold of an adorable fluffy chick wind-up toy, thinking they might mother it. Instead, they pecked it until it stopped kicking, and then one grabbed it and ran off to a corner to peck it some more. Awesome.
5. Hypnotize Them
The ultimate in chicken fun! There are a few different methods (visit the interwebs for a plethora of options), but I like to hold them on their backs and stroke from their sternum down to their tails until they relax. Not that my chickens aren’t already relaxed—they lie in the sun right outside my patio door flopped over like puppies.
Perhaps people will not think of me as a “serious” chicken rancher when they read this, and here’s the thing: I’m not! I have my small flock to feed my family and pay for their upkeep with a few egg sales here and there, but I’m not in it for the big bucks. I’m in it for fun. And what’s more fun than a hypnotized chicken with a tummy full of yogurt, waiting for its turn at the piñata?