Chickens were always a part of the Blue Star Ranch, but it wasn’t until Dudley that I realized that sometimes ordinary birds are capable of something extraordinary.
I don’t remember how exactly I discovered Dudley’s particular fancy for grapes, but once I realized that my young rooster would navigate an obstacle course for them, my then-12 year old self began to wonder. Could he do more? He hadn’t even found his spurs yet, but I set about seeing just how far he’d go for a grape.
I trained him to run around the perimeter of his yard. He started out slow, almost dragging his feet, but he sped up with each corner he passed, his neck stretching out farther and farther as his feet raced faster and faster down the homestretch towards the grape I held in my hand.
That led to simple mazes, then more complex mazes. Once it started to take me more time to build them then it did for him to navigate, I eventually gave that up in search of less time-consuming tricks.
At first he learned to jump vertically, and as he grew so did the height of his jumps. He never missed the grape between my fingers, except once when he caught my thumb by accident. We took a few days off after that.
Next I set up mini pole jumps and taught Dudley to leap over them, and he took to it gamely enough. It was all for grapes, after all.
I was a horse girl without a horse, but I had a chicken who could run and jump on command. How cool was that? I showed him off to family and friends, and to this day he remains the chicken I remember most.
Dudley was an Ameraucana chicken, hatched on our ranch.
While writing this post, I stumbled upon an Aesop’s fable that I found interesting, and while not directly related to chickens, it is directly related to jumping for grapes! What happens when the thirsty fox desires the grapes on the vine? Read The Fox and the Grapes to find out!