When I was a child, I spent my days with an older couple, Ma and Pa Perry, who owned a farm across the road from my dad's country store. There, my playmates were a variety of cats, dogs, cows and chickens who lived on the farm. Even though I loved them all, my fondest memories are of Chirper, a brown and buff hen that I raised from a biddy.
My parents allowed Chirper to come to our house to spend her formative years. I still find it hard to believe my parents allowed a chicken to live in the house! Chirper was my constant companion, and everyone in the family loved her. Even our dog let her ride around on his back.
When Chirper grew into a full-blown chicken, she returned to the farm where she could roam free. Sometimes, I would call Ma Perry and she would find Chirper and put her on the phone. I would talk and Chirper would answer with very conversational clucking. I taught Chirper tricks like fetching, leaping up for a treat and flying up to ride on my shoulder as I played around the farm. I learned chickens are smarter than you think.