Friday, 17 September 2010

Dining Al Fresco

One of the first lessons I learned when I went in to chicken keeping is that chickens will eat just about anything. They will eat most of your garden, and also most of the food that you like to eat. Naturally, I restrict their diet for their own good, but they are never happier than when they procure some 'illegal' food stuff and hot foot it under the rhododendron bush so that I can't seize it. The youngest is regularly relieved of biscuits and cakes in this way, and comes inside howling with indignation. Eventually, he will learn that if you don't want to share, don't take it outside.

I will have to take some responsibility for this thievery, though. I am an extremely indulgent chook owner. When preparing the human meal, I often make a bit extra for my girls. Particularly when the weather is cold. Therefore, it is not unusual to see the human family sat at the table eating a roast dinner, and the chicken contingent sitting just the other side of the patio doors waiting for their share. Spoiled doesn't really cover it.

Yesterday we had jacket potatoes. Now, if there's one thing a chicken really, really likes, it's a spud. Once I was reasonably certain that the ever tolerant husband wasn't watching, I lobbed a 'spare' jacket in to the garden. The hens were in raptures. They attacked it like mini jack-hammers. Bits of potato flew. The aim of the game appears to be burrowing in to the potato faster than your flock mates, therefore getting all of the good squishy spud. Maeve regularly wins this contest, and ends up wearing the potato shell like a helmet. Once it has been completely hollowed out, then begins the race for the skin.

Eating the skin is harder work, but they seem to see it as a delicacy. There is often a lull in proceedings as they all catch their breath. They regard Maeve and her potato helmet solemnly for a while, before one of them leads the war charge. Last night, Mabel did the honours.

Maeve and her spuddy head gear is then chased about the garden, in a Benny Hill stylee. I think that this is a very clever way of burning off all those carbs. During the race, the potato will begin to disintegrate. Maeve becomes a sort of chicken pinata, shedding yummy flecks of skin as she goes. Impressively, the rest of the flock barely break their stride as they hoover them up. Eventually, Maeve loses her edible crown, and the rest is devoured. They then laze about in a gluttonous stupor, occassionally pecking bits of spud from each other's heads.

The dance of the jacket potato is complete.


  1. Love it! I also enjoy feeding our chickens treats. We used to hold grapes in between our front teeth and let the chickens jump up and grab them. At the time, we had a particularly gentle group.

    I especially love watching them w/cherry tomatoes. It's like chicken rugby. Someone takes off w/a tomato pegged to her beak while the rest follow at full speed. The tomato is stolen, and the chase continues in another direction. Spaghetti noodles are also fun, as they wave in the wind as the hens run with them hanging from their beaks.

    I have also had the hens enjoy a bowl of something yummy, like mashed potatoes or leftover guacamole, only to come and wipe their beaks in my pant legs. I am quite indulgent, though, and while I fuss about it, I find it too cute to stop.

    I am really enjoying your blog. Gotta love good chicken stories!!!

  2. What a lovely blog. I have picked up some useful info here and it keeps me amused while waiting to hopefully some day get my own hens. :)

  3. What a fantastic game! I'm sure mine will love it, never thought of giving them a whole baked potato.