Perhaps I've mentioned my raving fan club. The members of which dart to my door the minute I step out onto the porch. No crowd control rope can keep them back. They rush me like free-range chickens anticipating bread crumbs and stale cereal.
That's because they are free-range chickens anticipating bread crumbs and stale cereal.
I know that I've spoiled them. Almost every time I go out, I toss them treats. If I only did this one out of every ten times, I imagine they would still be hooked, though I don't wish to delve too deeply into Skinner to cite the exact reward ratio required for proper operant conditioning. It's a happy accident. Sure, the poultry adoration is good for my ego. But I can live without it. In fact, I might be more comfortable without it.
Today I let Genius drive on the highway for thirty miles to visit civilization on his quest to acquire the latest telephone gadget on the market. Of course I went along. He's on a short leash. The Pony was left at home with my mom, because I don't trust him alone in the middle of nowhere all by himself. He is, after all, the boy who fell down thirteen stairs carrying a plate of corn dogs, and came to rest at the bottom with a fan of red fluid seeping out from under his skull. Okay, it was only ketchup, but it got my heart to pumping when viewed from above.
While Genius and I were gone, The Pony undertook his goat-herding duties from 8:30 to 9:30. Upon our return, my mom met me at the car. "I think your chickens have missed you. They've been coming over to the porch like they're looking for somebody." The feathered beasts came running. I hustled to the back door like a celebrity trying to give the paparazzi the slip.
Later in the day, I left the old homestead to pick up some food. That's when the gravity of the situation hit me. I exited the back door, but those crafty fowl came running to the breezeway by the garage. They stopped. They stared, heads tilted sideways, with their beady eyes. Normally I talk to them. But conversation was awkward. What was I supposed to say?
"Hey, chickens. Nothing for you today. I'm just going to town to pick up some of your dead, dismembered brethren, boiled in oil to a tasty crisp." No. That didn't seem right. So I didn't say anything at all. I snubbed my fine feathered friends.
Nothing comes between Val and her gas station chicken.