Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Fun With WHAT...?!

...worms. Earthworms, to be specific. This afternoon we took advantage of the fleeting nice weather to go out and play with the kid and chickens. For N. this involves just about anything, with the chickens today it involved J. with a shovel. The older ones know what The Shovel means and come running to stand on the blade as you are trying to dig.

We weren't planting anything, mind you. Just turning over the earth for the pure sake of breaking the soil, which ya gotta do in warm weather or die. It feeds the soul and calms the spirit. What with all the rain we've had lately the eartworms were numerous and near the surface. The chickens happily pounced on them, not caring that N. was telling them that SHE wanted one to hold and look at. Finally she got one of her own, and as I sat there mentally toting up how much I'd spent this Christmas on toys, she piled some loose dirt on an old cinderblock and commenced to tell her worm about his new house. Then she tried to stuff him into it, only to be robbed of her new plaything by Rita, a small black cochin hen. Not shy about food, our Rita. I struggle against laughing out loud as N. looks at Rita in shock and yells, "Hey--! Mom, she took my worm and I wasn't done playing with it!" Not only this, but Bear has noticed the Worm Home that N. has built and realizes that she saw Rita grab a worm out of it. Destructor Bear moves in like a feathered bulldozer and obliterates the carefully constructed Worm Home, looking mildly annoyed at wasting precious food hunting time when no more worms are forthcoming. We leap to keep everyone happy with more digging, being more careful to seperate the five year old's worms from the chicken's worms.

Eventually the chickens tire of gobbling worms, which is good because several of them look as if they are in real danger of exploding. Liz has fallen into the holes several times lunging for a worm, and Bear has used the smaller birds for traction. A few of the birds are squeamish about the worms though. I guess it's the dirt that sticks to them. Phoenix the rooster only takes one for the barest instant, just to be polite, spitting it out with a nearly audible ptooey for one of the hens and then shaking his head afterwards. I do get him to eat a few that I have cleaned the dirt off of, but he doesn't look all that thrilled.

After a while we give up and go sit down. I see that Bear has a bit of root material hanging from her beak, and have J. hold her while I grasp her head and pull it out of her mouth. When I open her beak I get a full dose of Worm Breath, which I'm here to tell ya ain't pretty. Meanwhile N. is kinda having a good time by sending earthworms down her slide, but she has to keep getting a new worm each time because the old one has mysteriously dissapeared.

Several very happy chickens wait at the bottom of the slide, though.

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