From the age of seven onward, I grew up on an acreage about half an hour east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was such a great place to be a kid.
The subdivision we lived in had everything you’d ever want — good hills for tobogganing in the winter and dirt biking in summer. There was a small lake with a family of beavers living in it. Great for playing hockey in the winter or tubing behind the snowmobile.
Our house was set way to the back of the long and narrow 3 acre lot. The driveway seemed miles long and there were sloughs on either side. My parents kept about two dozen chickens in a pen beside the garage and had a large vegetable garden at the top of the hill beside the house. The house was a walkout, and sometimes in the summer, my friends and I used to set up our Hot Wheels track so it would go out the door, across the front yard and into the driveway.
This particular day, though, we didn’t set up the Hot Wheels track. We were on summer holidays from school, it was a scorching hot day and we had all of it to do whatever we wanted. As it turned out, what we wanted was to catch frogs. When I was ten years old, that would be a great way to spend the day.
And so we did. The entire morning and half the afternoon. We had probably close to two or three dozen frogs in this old ice cream pail we’d found in the garage. We put a bit of water and some reeds in it and by mid-afternoon, it was getting pretty crowded in there.
And we were getting kinda tired of catching frogs — after three dozen or so, it felt like we pretty much had the hang of doing that — and we started wondering what we were gonna do with them now that we’d caught them. Couldn’t keep them all in that little ice cream pail. And even if we did, not a single one of our mothers was going to allow us to bring them in the house. So, we were going to have to let them go. But it seemed so anticlimactic to just dump them out, we started wondering if there might be a more interesting way to release them.
One of us made a suggestion that, as it turned out, none of us would ever forget.
“Let’s see what happens when the frogs meet the chickens.”
I think all of us figured either one of two things would happen: the chickens would run away scared or there’d be no reaction at all and the frogs would hop back to the slough.
After witnessing what actually happened, I can state two things with complete confidence:
1. Frogs absolutely do not like chickens.
2. Chickens absolutely love frogs.
One of my friends climbed up to the top of the wire enclosure surrounding the chickens who were all outside scratching and pecking like chickens do. We handed up the bucket and he waited for an appropriate sized gap in the scratching chickens to dump the frogs into.
He leaned way over, extended the bucket out as far as he could reach, pealed the lid off and dumped. Water, reeds and three dozen frogs splashed down in the midst of two dozen chickens. The splash scattered the chickens to the edges of the pen. There was about a three second pause where nothing happened.
Then, out of the blue, it was like the chickens declared war on the frogs. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a frog. And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a chicken. Trust me when I tell you that frogs have no defense against… well, pretty much everything, including chickens.
There was a bloodcurdling squawk from one corner of the pen and then 24 chickens split 36 frogs for dinner in a feeding frenzy that rivaled anything ever shown on Shark Week. It was Chicken Week. Chickens were running back and forth, frog legs hanging out of one beak, arms and a head hanging out of another. The only word that does it justice is savage. That’s not usually a word used to describe chickens.
We had been looking for a more interesting way to release those frogs and we had definitely found it. I don’t think any of us will ever forget it, either. And being 10 year old boys, we loved it!
A friend of mine has a saying: “Boys are yucky.”
Yup. It’s true.