Atherton: Kids (and chickens) visit the library


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By Dave Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

Chickens, hens to be precise, explored a loosely supervised section of the Atherton public library on Saturday, Feb. 5, as area children came to pet and feed and consider the feathered beings hunting and pecking in their midst.

It was "Chicken Day" at the library, a chance for kids to get familiar with hens from families affiliated with the San Carlos 4H Club and from the Atherton campus of Sacred Heart Schools, which in addition to chickens is home to a couple of goats and a significant organic garden.

Sacred Heart chicken wranglers Paul, 9, and Chris, 10, cared for the four chickens from the school and made them available for feeding and inspection and at intervals, they would put them back in their cages.

At the end of each school day, the boys spend about 15 minutes feeding the chickens, collecting their eggs and checking on whether there is any inter-chicken harassment going on, Paul said.

Peri Wong, a junior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, stood by with a Barred Rock hen in her arms that belonged to fellow Summit Prep student and Menlo Park resident Jesse Taylor.

Keeping chickens "is a lot of fun," she said. "We get fresh eggs and go to show and compete."

Chickens do compete, apparently, but whether they are aware of it is another question. The judges look for clean feathers and for roosters, the ability to walk from one end of a table to another on command.

The walking training involves tapping them on the back of their legs with a small stick -- which they don't like until they're so used to it that just the sight of the stick prompts them to walk, Peri said.

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