I knew things had gone too far when one morning I stood in the kitchen with a bowl of last night’s rice in my hand thinking of what I could add to it to make it more appetizing for the chickens.
Ya see, I have this idea that the hens should eat all our leftovers. I think it’s all those prairie movies where the woman in the long dress and apron goes out and spreads food around for the chickens and they all come running and pecking at the ground around her. Now that I’m thinking of it, I don’t have any idea what those prairie women are feeding the chickens, but for some reason I always thought it was leftovers. As if those prairie people had leftovers. It must have been all that 1970’s TV with all those wholesome, clean prairie women, their bleached white aprons and hair in a bun that planted that idea in my head. That and the fact that I grew up in the suburbs and never saw a live chicken or thought about what they ate.
So I was thinking that the oil from a can of tuna would surely get the hens more interested in the rice. And that’s when realized I was going too far. Like I was actually going to open a can of tuna to pour the oil over rice? Why not just give them the tuna. The truth is our chickens don’t eat most of the human food I’ve tried to feed them. They like berries, mozzarella and pasta, fish and (initially to my horror) chicken and eggs. But other than that they’d rather have laying mash or cracked corn. I used to think they were just picky eaters, but I’m starting to think that maybe chickens don’t eat left overs. I mean that would be the logical assumption. And I’m coming to see that it’s true, but there’s a part of me that just keeps trying. I mean really, it’s just hard for me to believe that hens don’t like oatmeal, no matter how many times I have to take the uneaten slop out of the coop at the end of the day.
But I think the tuna oil and rice thing woke me up. Something has to change. So from now on when I think of those prairie women feeding the hens, I’ll imagine them tossing something boring like cracked corn. It’s going to take some time, I’ve had those images of leftovers, chickens and women in long aprons in my head for 40 years or more. I’m up for the challenge.
But what about all those leftovers? Maybe we just need a compost pile, or even more fun, a pig. Pig’s really do eat leftovers, don’t they?