Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

Hey Chickie, Wanna Buy Some Scratch?

10/7/2011 1:31:06 PM

Tags: backyard chickens, chicken raising, Victoria Gazeley

I have a confession to make.

I am a dealer of avian contraband. Or a chicken’s version of an Apple Store. Or some sort of poultry pop star.

At least that’s what it looks like.

I walk outside, and within seconds I have 15 fluffy, preening little pre-teens following me. And not just following, but RACING towards me, crowding around my feet, clucking and cooing (and sometimes screaming), wanting my autograph… or something more sinister.

Is this what Justin Bieber feels like?

Truth be told, they don’t want me, but what I can give them (ain't that always the way?). So I don't let it go to my head, nice as it is. What they really want is scratch.

Scratch is a combination of grains and seeds (essentially glorified bird seed) that’s pretty much like candy – or the latest iPhone, or tickets to a Bieber show – to chickens. They’d seriously do anything for it. Really. When I go to the back of the coop to get the jar, then head back to the coop run, they’re all crowding around, tripping me, and pushing and shoving each other out of the way. You can almost hear them saying, “Mine!”, “No, MINE!!!”, “Get out of my way, you little snot!” Friends one minute, enemies the next. Little girls can be so cruel…

Then, after scattering the scratch/Bieber tickets around, or popping some in the run in a bowl, it’s gone in seconds. Literally. Then they turn and look at me with the crazed eyes of an Apple addict when their iPhone won't connect… or a Bieber fan. Kinda scary…

Because it’s so powerful (and clearly, addictive!), we only use it when we need to round up the girls to secure them in the tractor or the run – usually when we leave the house, and then again in the evening. A few shakes of the jar is all it takes and they’re in the run and safe from the prowling teeth gnashers that would chomp them down in one bite. It’s the best way we’ve found to get them all in one place fast. Too bad there wasn’t some profit in it somewhere for me. Oh right, there is – lovely, organic eggs! And a lot of entertainment value. They truly are their own show.

Maybe like the Biebs I’ll have my 15 minutes of fame with the girls, or maybe I’ll be lucky and be like Apple, George Clooney or Jon Bon Jovi and they’ll still be chasing around after me when they’re middle aged.

Either way, it works for now, and I’ll milk it for all it’s worth…

(Here's a video my son did to show you just how fast they come running - they don't quite associate him with yummies yet, so he doesn't have the star power I seem to have just walking out the front door... but I'm sure it's coming! The video is a tad on the long side, but there are some hysterical moments towards the end... you'll just have to watch.):


Content Tools

Post a comment below.


MountainMomma MacKenzie
10/31/2011 2:50:16 AM
Sonds like my daily forray to my penned chicken coop :) Question though - my chickens are housed in a large shed, with fancy chicken-condo accomodations inside, with a decent sized penned yard outside. They have, as suspected, eaten everything green, or crawly, in their area, but there are dogs that have eaten chickens that come down often, so we have to keep them penned. Is there some key to keep them laying, or restart them, if they have stopped for reasons unknown to us?

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.