Our girls are free-range, and because I usually have something better to do than chase them around all day, I am not particularly on top of their habits, gustatory or otherwise. But yesterday I was doing Round Two of bulb planting, so I was nose-to-beak with the girls for a good part of the day. Since they were small, they have realized that if I have a digging tool and my kneepad, it is definitely chow time. All four take turns kind of “helping” me liberate the worms when I dig up the earth. Okay, no big deal. There’re plenty of worms and other earth critters around.
This summer, however, I had noticed the chickens had a particular affinity for the fishpond. Was it the water? The deep cover? No, it was the FROGS. Once one particular amphibian was stupid enough to just sit there while they came by, it was lunch. After that, it was carte blanche, until those frogs got wise and would dive in at a sparrow flying overhead.
Okay. Back to yesterday. I was planting what I thought was the last of the crocus (there seemed to always be another bag) in the herb garden by the kitchen door, and I heard a rather pathetic squeaking. Ah, what do they have NOW? I looked over and Beatrice (Bloody Beatrice) had a vole. A VOLE! I mean, those things are BIG! Bigger than mice, smaller than chipmunks, but BIG.
So if you ever see eggs at the grocery store that say “vegetarian-fed hens,” realize that those are some sad chickens that, left to their own devices, would happily find and devour anything smaller than they are. Vegetarian? There’s no choice there: they’re spending their lives in cages indoors.