My Life With Gracie…“Feed The Chickens!” Card Game

Feed The Chickens

For the August 1st One Year Anniversary of these “My Life With Gracie” stories and illustrations, I have been wanting to do something special. Gracie thought a game would be a great gift for our readers, and the other chickens agreed.

Gracie explained, “It has to be the kind of game we chickens can play too. That way we can make sure it’s good enough to give to people.”

“I see.”

“Plus everyone will want to play it with their own chickens. I’m sure of that,” she added confidently.

“Not everyone has chickens in their backyard,” I said. “Some people don’t even have a backyard.”

Everyone looked at me with unblinking surprise and open beaks.

“You can’t be serious.”

“It’s sadly true,” I said.

“How are they able to make it from one day to the next?”

“Who guards their house for them?”

“Who digs their holes for them?”

“Most important of all, who eats their worms for them?”

I shrugged my shoulders and looked at them sadly. “It’s not easy. That’s all I can say.”

“Well then, we really do need to do something to bring some happiness into their lives,” said Gracie with her strongest determination.

“Yes. Oh, yes!” the others clucked emphatically. “Bless their people hearts!”

“How about a card game?” I suggested. “Those don’t need dice which would be difficult for a chicken to roll.”

Then I showed them a deck of cards, and they practiced moving and flipping them over.

They put their heads together and talked among themselves. Finally Gracie declared, “We want to give everyone a free card game.”

“So what do you want to call your card game?”

“Feed The Chickens!” they clucked together without giving it a second thought or any debate at all. “What could be more fun for people than feeding their chickens? Even if it’s only in a card game?”

“I see. Sort of like your favorite joke…Why did the farmer cross the road?”

“To feed the chickens!” They all rocked from side to side with laughter.

That old joke always makes them laugh. I guess I will never understand chicken humor.

After that though, the discussion became somewhat disorganized. Everyone was sure “Feed The Chickens!” was going to be the most phenomenal card game ever in all the history of the world. What could be more fun? But how should the game be played? We needed rules.

I started jotting down their ideas as quickly as I could, usually without being able to tell who was saying what. There was a lot of excitement!

“There should be six different kinds of fruit and vegetable cards.”

“How about seven? One for every day of the week. To remind people how they need to feed their chickens every day!”

“Color the fruits and vegetables so they look really tasty!”

“Don’t color the fruits and vegetables. That way the people can have extra fun coloring them in for themselves.” That was Emily’s suggestion because she likes to draw.

“Don’t put any words on the cards because some of us can’t read,” offered Gracie. “Or numbers either.”

“Yes, but if you do use counting, don’t make the numbers go too high,” said Pearl. “One of us can’t count past four, but I’m not naming any names.”

“Everyone knows you’re talking about yourself!” the others pointed at Pearl who laughed along with them.

“Big cards so people can handle them better.”

“Little cards so people can tuck them away in their pockets and take them with them wherever they go.”

“How about chicken-sized cards so both chickens and people can play with them? Or at least the few fortunate people who have chickens in their backyard.”

This went on for the longest time, and I was sure I would run out of notebook pages.

“The winner should be the one who feeds the chickens the most.”

“Okay but only if the most is the most corn because that is my favorite.”

“That’s fine for you, but I like chopped apples and grated carrots the best.”

“No, the winner should be the one who finishes feeding the chickens first.”

“Make some cards with worms on them!” someone suggested, and the others thought that was just about the best idea ever.

“And a smelly old shoe,” laughed Pearl. “Nobody wants that!”

“Then the winner should be the one who feeds the chickens the most worms!” declared Amelia.

“I think the loser should have to eat the old shoe,” chuckled Bessie. “I can come up with a nice recipe!”

With that, they had just about exhausted all of their ideas, at least for this brainstorming session.

It would be my job to turn their suggestions into a card game that would entertain my chickens and hopefully our readers, even those who don’t have chickens.

Please check back here on Thursday, August 1st when we will post the PDF documents for you to print your “Feed The Chickens!” Card Game. The basic rules will also be posted!

This may look like an easy card game, but just because chickens can play it, doesn’t mean you won’t need to use some strategy!

We are also testing a solitaire version for those who don’t have chickens (or children) who would enjoy this game!

Gracie’s Summer Reading List…“A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

To tell the truth, recently was the first time that I’ve ever read this book on my own. I only read it again because I remembered the way it made me feel, and I wanted to feel that way again. I wanted my chickens to feel that way, or whatever way this wonderful book might make them feel.

This book was first read to me fifty years ago when I was in the sixth grade. Mrs. Kitchen was our Language Arts teacher and also our “home room” teacher. The school was Wakefield Elementary School which had actually been a high school when I started attending there in first grade. Her room was in the basement which had thick concrete walls to help keep it extra cool in the warmer months. The other rooms on the first and second floors had huge windows to let in breezes.

Mrs. Kitchen’s daughter, Mary Ann, had been in my class up until third grade when she was killed in a car accident by a drunken driver. All I remember about her was that she was one of the sweetest and prettiest girls in our class and always had the right answers. I think Mrs. Kitchen may have had a hard time when our class made it to sixth grade because it may have brought back painful memories, but she never let it show.

There are only a few things I remember about sixth grade, and this book is one of them. Honestly, I did not remember anything about the plot other than it is about three children who took a trip in time and had some adventures. What I remember much more than that sketchy bit is how this book made me feel somehow understood even though no one appeared to understand me. Perhaps this is best summarized in the theme of the book as stated by Meg, the main character, “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!” This book is about the value of being an individual.

“This story took longer than any of the others so far, but I liked it and could sit still for each chapter. The cover was interesting, and I wanted to know more about the story just from the cover because it had three children flying through the air like chickens and a horse with chicken wings carrying the children somewhere.” – Gracie

“If we ever get into a situation like the one that the children were in, I think I will know what to do. (And chickens do get into some strange situations!) I was a little disappointed that none of the characters were chickens. I mean, they could have been, especially Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who and Mrs Which because they could take on just about any appearance they wanted, I think. Oh, well, it was still an interesting story.” – Bessie

“To be totally honest, I was a little unsure about what it said on the cover about ‘Now a Major Motion Picture’ because who knows what that means. I’ve never seen or heard a Motion Picture, Major or Minor…or Flat or Sharp for that matter. But I did like the gold medal on the cover because it was shiny and bright! It’s a John Newberry Medal for having a good story, and I can completely agree with that!” – Pearl

“I think Mrs Who was my favorite of the three mysterious ladies in the story. She had glasses that let her and Meg, the main character, see things that other people couldn’t see. That’s a lot like me and my drawings because they let me do things I wouldn’t be able to do any other way. There were also some helpful pictures with an ant to explain what a ‘wrinkle in time’ is like. Drawings help explain difficult things too.” – Emily

“I like that a girl got to be the main character and save the day in this book. The boys that went with her on their journey in time had their own special powers and gifts that helped, but Meg was the one who ultimately made everything right. She didn’t make the boys look stupid or bad or anything like that. She didn’t have to look pretty or be mean or sassy. She just had to be herself. She saved her father and her brother and probably everybody else too. I would like to be like Meg.” – Amelia

“A Wrinkle In Time” is suitable for ages 8 to 12 and is available through Barnes and Noble. The price on the back of the book is $6.99, however Barnes & Noble is offering it for less. Summertime discount codes offer additional savings. By the way, Barnes & Noble is offering “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” at a special price with the purchase of this or other books. This picture book by Ryan T. Higgins will be our next on Gracie’s Summer Reading List! (It is hilarious!)

Just so you know, “My Life With Gracie” isn’t getting anything from sharing this book with you. We don’t collect anything if you click the link here. Some websites work that way, but for us, it’s about reading. Children (and chickens) need to read and be read to, whether it’s what we write or not!

My Life With Gracie…The Kindness Of Giving Rest

Giving Rest

This recent summer hot spell has been rough, perhaps the longest and roughest my chickens have ever known. I have had to take extra steps to help make them comfortable.

I have run electric cords out into the backyard to power several low-noise fans. I’ve also used cooling block pans which have helped even more. (These are shallow pans with a concrete paver block that has been soaked in water. The pavers sit just above the water level so that when the chickens stand on them, they get an evaporative cooling effect.)

Even though I move their fan to give them a breeze through the big wire door to their coop at night, it is often just moving still-hot air. It’s not always easy for them to get a good night’s sleep. Instead they take a series of short naps at night and more naps during the day, often after taking a dustbath in the cool earth.

Gracie is different though. When I get home from work, she often has one or two of the others nearby in the dustbath they have dug in front of the fan. They will be peacefully taking a long deep sleep while she is keeping watch over them.

Emily depends on her the most. Perhaps it is because she is the smallest and feels the most vulnerable. Perhaps it is because they share a kinship of the heart even though they are completely different kinds of chickens on the outside.

Gracie doesn’t close her eyes to nap until Emily gets up from resting beside her. You can tell she wants to sleep some herself, but she won’t leave Emily unprotected even though they are secure in their run.

When I get home, I will sit in my chair under the camellias as quietly as I can so I don’t wake anyone up from a nap. Often I want to give Gracie some comforting words and to thank her for being such a good leader, but I don’t want even my softest voice to wake up Emily who is by her side. Gracie understands this as I silently mouth, “Thank you, Gracie.”

She knows I will be there for a while when I start reading a book which I almost always bring outside with me. When she sees me starting to read, then she slowly closes her eyes too. She passes the role of protector of the flock to me, and then she can rest as well.

It may be wrong and foolish of me to believe that Gracie holds in her heart all of the goodness that a chicken’s heart can possibly hold, but those words overflow from my own heart. I must say them, right or wrong.

There are no predators that could get in and hurt them, but still Emily needs the comfort of knowing Gracie is watching over her. Gracie with all of the goodness in her heart can not let Emily down.

My Life With Gracie opened my heart to see the kindness of giving rest.

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