What I Learned About Chickens on my Summer Vacation

No, really. These are not edible.Our chickens are nine weeks old, and it's been a lot of fun so far. There have been a few startling things I've learned in the process, which I thought I'd share:

1. They really are "chicken."

They startle at the slightest noise, including the sound of a garden hose, a motorless reel mower, or a nine year old practicing his cello. To save themselves, they will run into a huddle behind their water can.

2. Instinct is amazing.

We raised these baby chicks from one day old, in a cardboard box. At one or two weeks old we began to offer them various foods to try, most of which were initially rejected. And just like a toddler, they will have a sour reaction to some foods, actually wipe their beaks off on the ground if a food displeases them.

But the first worm that my husband fished out of the compost heap for them inspired the most amazing reaction. It was as if Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket had just been dangled over the edge of the box. That wiggling shape set off a primal riot of desire, and one chick grabbed the worm, then ran all around the box looking for a place to eat it in peace. She was attacked by her neighbors, who took turns grabbing the worm and running in circles. Eventually it was pulled apart and gobbled down.

I'm told that spagetti will set off similar ardor, but I have not tried it yet.

3. They will peck at toenail polish! 

Note to self... wear shoes.