One of the earliest things I learned about baby chicks is they don’t train very well. (For example, when they poop, it’s anywhere. No litter box. No special spot. It’s anywhere.)
You may have seen a video of a chicken pecking out a song on a toy piano or performing a similar trick. Most chickens aren’t so clever, unless there is a strong association between doing something and getting food.
The only strong association my chickens ever made was between the sound of my back door closing and getting food. When they hear that sound, their “performing” starts with full force doing anything they can to attract my attention and to be the first to get food or a treat.
Being first is hugely important to chickens…and little children too…and probably most grown ups, if they were to tell the truth.
This was why I was so surprised to see some staying back and letting others have their choice of the tastiest bites first. Sometimes it did have to do with who was more assertive, but oftentimes not. There were times when letting others have their choice first could only be explained as a simple act of generous kindness.
There were some like the Brahma chicks who had to be first at everything, even going so far as to stand in the middle of the food dish, particularly when there were sprouted wheat or barley seeds. Yet they and my boy Lefty were the exception. (I am positive when he was a chick that Lefty dreamed of one day being a velociraptor!)
So this got me thinking. When you have nothing to give to someone, like when you can’t buy or make anything, giving them first choice to the biggest slice of cake (or dried mealworms) or first choice to the best seat (or perch) is really nice. It’s like saying, “You’re more important to me than being first.”
Gracie has always been good about standing back and letting others have first choice, but just to be truthful, she does have her moments. Gracie seldom lets anyone come between her and her banana! But I have seen it happen, and when it does, I see true kindness in her eyes. Maybe we all have things like Gracie and her bananas, and perhaps those are the truest tests of a giving heart.
My Life With Gracie showed me letting others have their choice first is a kind of giving.