Happy Hatchday, Gracie and Bessie!…Here Is Your “Worms And Hay Bales” Game!

Worms And Straw Bales

Today is our Hatchday celebration for Gracie and Bessie. They are three years old. That is all of the toes they can see on one foot, and so it’s kind of a big deal. Here is their Hatchday gift to you, our readers!

“Worms And Hay Bales!” (Worms Optional Version)

Object Of The Game Two chicken players are racing to get to the end of a winding trail through their yard. The winner is the first player to reach the end of the trail and land on Space 36.

How To Set Up Place the game board between the two players. Each player places their marker next to, but not on, Space 1. Place the dice in a good area for rolling so as not to disturb the game board, markers, and worms (if you are using them). That is it! You’re all set up to play!

Special Note: You may want to borrow markers and a die from another game to use when playing “Worms And Straw Bales!” at home. That way you can start playing right away! Along with the PDF below for the game board, there is also one for the game playing pieces. This is just in case you want to make ours using scissors and a glue stick.

How To Start Playing For the first game, players roll to see who gets the higher number. That player gets to go first. (After the first game, the loser of the last game gets to go first.) Players take turns rolling and then moving their marker foreward the number of spaces shown.

This will be as few as one or as many as six, but remember that sometimes just moving one space can have advantages depending on where you land! And sometimes moving all six spaces might not work out so well. Here’s what we mean.

Land On The Bottom Of A Straw Bale If a player lands on a space which is the bottom of a straw bale, they must move their marker to the top of the straw bale. This means being on a higher numbered space and closer to winning!

Land On The Head Or Middle Of A Worm If a player lands on a space which is the head or middle of a worm, they must move their marker to the tail of the worm. This means being on a lower numbered space and not as close to winning.

Land On Another Chicken’s Space If a player lands on a space which is already occupied my another player, they must move to the next space with the lower number. “I was here first” is the rule to remember when this happens. (The player may need to move again based on the directions for that space.)

Land On An Arrow Sorry, but these are just to help you make sure you are moving in the correct direction! (Players do not get to move up when they land on an arrow.)

Declaring The Winner! The game is over when one player lands on Space 36. This can be an “exact number” roll or an “enough to get you there” roll. (It is best to decide this before you begin to play.) If you are playing at home with your own chickens, it is strongly recommended that the winner receive at least one worm as a treat.

“Worms And Straw Bales!” Game Board  Print one of these on card stock paper if you have it. If you want to use your own dice and markers, that’s all there is to do!

(Optional) “Worms And Straw Bales!” Game Playing Pieces Print one of these if you want to use our dice and markers. Card stock paper works best. If you want to add your own colors, that would be great! Just be sure to do it before you cut out your pieces. (Cut on the solid lines, fold on the dashed lines, and glue together one side at a time.)

We hope you will enjoy playing this game as much as we enjoyed making it to share with you. And if this game helps pass the time during this unusual season the world is going through right now, then it truly will be a very Happy Hatchday for all of us.

Thanks again!

Gracie, Bessie, and John

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

This type of game may seem a little “old school” when compared to may of the electronic games and other options which are available these days. Still, I would like to believe there is a special joy found in games like this, even if only for chickens!

My Life With Gracie…Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day

You may have noticed for the past few weeks Emily and Bessie have been doing the artwork for our posts. This has given me extra time to work on the illustrations for our next book.

Emily shared this drawing with me as soon as I got home from work on the evening before Valentine’s Day. While her beak and comb looked calm, I could tell by her twitchy tail feathers she was eager to give me her latest drawing. Who would have ever imagined that a slightly faded sheet of red construction paper could end up being so beautiful?

“Emily, that’s very pretty, and I like it tremendously. Do you need help adding some words like maybe ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’? I can spell the words for you.”

She shrugged her shoulders as if she was unsure what more needed to be said.

“It’s not really about Valentine’s Day,” Emily confessed. “I know you wanted a picture to share with everyone for Valentine’s Day. I’m sorry for letting you down. I don’t have a Valentine’s Day drawing for you.”

“What do you mean? There are valentine hearts all over it.”

“I know. But they are what you would call an artistic afterthought. They just fill the empty spaces between the chickens.”

“I see.”

“The drawing really isn’t about all of those valentine hearts. The most important part is all of the chickens who are dancing ballet. That’s what the picture is really about. I was hoping you would like that part the best and not worry about Valentine’s Day.”

“Why is that?”

“Because you’ve told us how you often think about us dancing ballet at night when you are trying to go to sleep.”

“That’s true. I always seem to sleep better when I imagine dancing ballerina chickens.”

“So this picture is really to wish you sweet dreams and a happy tomorrow. And it’s not for just one day, it’s for all days.”

“I think it’s the most wonderful picture you have ever made, and it’s much better than a picture for only Valentine’s Day.”

We smiled together.

“I am so lucky to have you in my life, Emily. This drawing has you all over it.”

“I don’t understand. None of those dancing chickens are me. They are all Gracie. She is the best dancer.”

“When I look at this picture you’ve drawn just for me, I can’t help but see you. But I don’t see you on the paper. I see you in my heart.”

Her comb blushed a bit redder and she hurried off to put away her art supplies for another day.

I thought about placing her drawing by the lamp near my bed. It would be the last thing I would see before turning out the light and the first thing I would see in the morning. But for that Valentine’s Day Eve, I just sat and enjoyed the pure beauty of who Emily is.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me love, real love, isn’t just for one day. It is for all days, and for sweet dreams, and for a happy tomorrow.

We have also included a sheet of “Art By Emily” Valentine’s Day cards you can download, print, and share. There are no words on the front or inside. When you print, cut, and fold them, you can add your own words if you’d like. I think they might also look nice framed…maybe on a bedside table?

Here’s wishing you, our readers, sweet dreams and a happy tomorrow!

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

“Feed The Chickens!” Card Game…Our Anniversary Gift To You!

Feed The Chickens Card Game

Today we are celebrating our One-Year Anniversary of “My Life With Gracie” stories and illustrations. Here is our “Thank You!” gift to you, our readers!

We have truly appreciated your encouragement and support over the past twelve months! PDF documents to “Print and Play” are at the bottom! Hopefully this game isn’t too “corny,” but my chickens love it!

“Feed The Chickens!” Un-Official Official Rules

(That means it’s okay to change them and even add your own rules! Gracie says so, and what Gracie says goes!)

Object Of The Game Two Chicken Farmers try to make seven different Food Piles for their chickens, one for each different fruit or vegetable. The Winner is the Chicken Farmer with the highest total value for their top cards in their own “Feed The Chickens!” Area. (The illustration above should help explain these rules. You can see how the cards are arranged when playing. White and gray labels are used for Pearl, and pale orange and tan are used for Gracie.)

How To Set Up Shuffle cards. Deal face down on the table to make a Draw Pile for each Chicken Farmer.

How To Play Both Chicken Farmers turn over their top cards and place them face up to see who has the highest value. The Chicken Farmer with the highest value gets to “Feed The Chickens!”

Sometimes both cards will have the same value! (This is what you see in the Illustration. Pearl has Two Kale and Gracie has Two Corn.) When that happens, both Chicken Farmers turn over their top cards again. Repeat until someone has a higher value on their top card. This means there could be a lot of cards to choose from when someone gets to “Feed The Chickens!”

How To “Feed The Chickens!” The Chicken Farmer with the highest value top card takes all the cards turned over and selects one Fruit Card or Vegetable Card for their “Feed The Chickens!” Area. This card may be used to make a new kind of Food Pile or be put on top of a matching Food Pile if they have that kind already. Remember every time there is a card with a higher value turned over, it’s time to “Feed The Chickens!”

Other card or cards taken but not used to “Feed The Chickens!” should be placed in the Chicken Farmer’s Discard Pile. Then it’s time to turn over cards again!

How To Continue Playing When one Chicken Farmer’s Draw Pile is empty, reshuffle Discard Piles (along with card from the other Chicken Farmer’s Draw Pile if there is one). Deal again and continue.

If there are no cards or only one card in the Discard Piles to reshuffle, collect all of the cards in the center and reshuffle all of them. (Sorry, chickens! You will have to wait just a little longer!)

When To Stop Playing Stop when one Chicken Farmer has made all seven different Food Piles in their “Feed The Chickens!” area.

How To Decide Who Is The Winner Total the values for the top cards only. The Winner is the Chicken Farmer who has the highest total. If both have the same total, the Winner is the Chicken Farmer who was last to “Feed The Chickens!” (In the illustration above, Pearl has some catching up to do if she wants to win!)

Fruit Cards and Vegetable Cards are worth one, two, or three.

A Worms Card is higher than any Fruit Card or Vegetable Card. It is worth four.

The Old Shoe Card is worth zero. Sorry, but you never feed an old shoe to chickens!

Super Special “Old Shoe” vs. “Worms” Rule Whenever the first cards turned over are the Old Shoe Card and a Worms Card, the Worms Card can be put on any existing Food Pile for a value of four. (This is what you see for Gracie in the illustration above. Pearl turned over the “Old Shoe,” and Gracie turned over the “Worms.” So she put it on top of her Peas Food Pile to give it a value of four.)

This is the only time the chickens get any worms. (Sorry again, chickens! But we need them to keep the game going! We will run out of worms if you eat them all!)

If the Chicken Farmer who turned over the Worms Card doesn’t have any Food Piles yet, the Worms Card can be used to start a new Food Pile as long as the Chicken Farmer says what it will be (such as “Watermelon” or “Kale”). Any future cards of that kind would be placed on that Food Pile.

Super Special “Can’t Make Seven Food Piles” Rule It is possible that neither Chicken Farmer will be able to make all seven different Food Piles. This can happen when both Chicken Farmers have at least one Food Pile with all three matching Fruit Cards or Vegetable cards.

If this should happen, continue playing until the only cards left are the Worm Cards and Old Shoe Card. The Winner is still the Chicken Farmer with the highest total value. If both have the same value, the Winner is the Chicken Farmer who was last to “Feed The Chickens!”

(Strategy Tip: If you see that the other Chicken Farmer has two of the same Fruit or Vegetable cards and you get to “Feed The Chickens!” you may want to use the last of that kind of Fruit or Vegetable card to “Feed The Chickens!” even if it only has a value of one. Otherwise, you might not be able to make that Food Pile later!)  

Watch Out For This!  There will be times when you have to place a lower value card on top of a higher value card when you “Feed The Chickens!” You won’t have any other choice! This is because the Chicken Farmer who has turned over the higher value card must “Feed The Chickens!” (This is every chicken’s favorite rule! It also can make the game very interesting because you can lose points! Feed your chickens wisely!)

“Print and Play” PDF’s for “Feed The Chickens!”

“Card Backs” If you want pictures on both sides of every card, print two of these. Use card stock weight paper if possible. You can then flip them over and print “Card Fronts – Sheet One” and “Sheet Two” on the other side. This will give you a picture on both sides of every card!

“Card Fronts – Sheet One” Print one of these. The top part has a “Wrap Around Case” for your card game. The bottom part has twelve cards. Cut along dotted lines. Trim with scissors as needed to even them up.

“Card Fronts – Sheet Two” Print one of these. The top part has “Pocket Rules” which you can use for quick reference and then fold up for storage. The bottom part has thirteen cards. Cut along dotted lines. Trim with scissors as needed.

When you have all twenty-five cards from both sheets cut to the right size, place them in a stack. Then place the “Wrap Around Case” snugly (but not too tightly) around the cards. This way you can still slide your cards in and out again. You will probably need to trim the ends some before gluing or taping.

Hey! Why not print a double big deck of fifty cards in all!?!

There are plenty of other rules you can add when you play this game! In fact, you can make up your own rules! Remember how I practically filled an entire notebook with brainstorming ideas from my chickens? There are plenty of ways to “Feed The Chickens!”

You might even want to just print the “Card Backs” on some sheets, cut them out and make your own kinds of cards! Maybe analog games that let you use your imagination and creativity really can still survive in a digital world!

Most important of all, even if you aren’t a kid anymore, you can still be a kid at heart! And kids love to “Feed The Chickens!”

Thanks again!

John, Gracie, Bessie, Pearl, Amelia, and Emily