Hey Chickie, Wanna Buy Some Scratch?

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/hey-chickie-wanna-buy-some-scratch.aspx

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.): http://vimeo.com/modernhomesteading/how-to-round-up-chickens-in-one-minute