Eden, my seven year old, is in the backyard playing with a friend. They jump on the trampoline, run up and down our hill, then climb up the slide on our swingset before collapsing in a sweaty heap on the grass.
Through the open window I see when Eden looks at her friend and says in a low, conspiratorial tone of voice, “Do you want to make something awesome?” Not waiting for a response, Eden rushes on, “Let’s make chicken salad.”
Her friend looks taken aback. “You don’t mean…make salad…out of your chickens, do you?” she asks timidly.
“Of course not!” Eden laughs, “I mean let’s make salad for the chickens!”
(Apparently during the summer Eden has created the perfect food for our feathered ladies and their bottomless stomachs. It’s good to know that she takes after me in some respects, especially in her love for our domesticated fowls. It also explains the chickens’ overwhelming fondness for my offspring.)
For the next ten minutes I watch as Eden and her friend gather the long grass that stands at the top of the hill, a couple of weeds from the garden beds, and a handful of dandelion flowers and clover. Then on the garden bench, the two of them struggle with plastic, dull knives while they attempt to cut the salad into chicken sized pieces on a plate that has long ago been donated to the sandpile.
At the end of their hard work the girls open the coop door and throw their concoction onto the ground. Immediately, the ravenous chickens descend, as if they were greedy angels from on high, and devour the small green feast before them. However, in a manner most unbecoming such celestial beings, they rapidly begin stealing the food out of each other’s mouths.
(This is one of my favorite things about raising chickens: watching them chase each other down to commit treacherous acts of food thievery. It’s obvious the two small girls find it hilarious also. )
No less than five minutes later, the chickens have consumed any shred of evidence that they were fed and begin lamenting how hungry they still are.
Eden’s friend looks at my daughter and says, with shining eyes, “Let’s do that again!”
The two race to the top of the hill to pick the long grass that grows in the shade of the trees, convinced it tastes the best and therefore is most suitable for the feathered ladies.
And that is how they spend the next forty minutes entertaining themselves (and me.)