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Oh, HELLS, no say the fat old hens


We had an afternoon of glorious sun yesterday (the first for a while and the last for a while), so I took the little girls out in a bird cage for their first sight of the sun. They were born in a dark incubator and reared in a windowless shed, so this was something pretty spectacular in their chickeny lives.


The big girls took one look at the cage and vanished into the henhouse. It was probably the cage, not the chicks, that spooked them. I don’t think they’ll recognize what the chicks are until they’re all pecking around in the grass together. And then it’ll be like the Sharks and the Jets.

Nah-nah-nah nah nah.

An interesting note on chicken society. Violence, the white-ish hen at the far left, is the smallest in the flock. Her sister (from the same hatching, but not the same parents) Vita, the hen at the far right, is a big, beautiful bird, half again bigger than Violence.

But Vita is and always has been the bottom of the pecking order, and how. Violence, after the death of Lucia, became head chicken. And so Violence has grown a little, Vita has shrunk a little — and look at the difference in their combs! Vita has a little baby comb, but Violence has a big, fat red flag on her head proclaiming her Queen Shit of the Chickens.

The size and color of a chicken’s comb tells you a lot about their health and place in society and can change very fast when conditions change.

When the babies are mixed in, Violence and Mapp will probably give ’em a few judicious pecks and then settle in as a flock.

Not Vita. This is her chance not to be the bottom hen any more. She will be ruthless and cruel to the little ones until her new place is firmly established.

To be honest, I don’t mind. It’s been awful watching the others pick on her all these years. No hen likes to be bottom hen, but most self-respecting chooks will squawk and get out of the way of a good pecking. Not Vita; she’ll lie still with her beak in the grass and let them punch her until they tire themselves out. Horrible.

She’ll have to be watched, though.


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: March 23, 2016, 10:29 pm

Pecking order. Abuse of the inferior by the superior.

Reminds me of the high school I attended¹ in the middle 60s.

1. I refuse to refer to it as “my” high school.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: March 24, 2016, 12:34 am

There’s a children’s story in what you wrote.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: March 24, 2016, 11:58 am

And if Her Stoatliness had substituted the words ‘Democrat’, ‘Republican’ or ‘Conservative’ for the word ‘chicken’ in the above essay, who would have known?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: March 24, 2016, 2:15 pm

What Uncle Badger said.

Matter of fact, I found your descriptions of the antics and complex social goings-on of your feathered friends FAR more interesting than the juvenile social dramas & meanderings of my Facebook-obsessed local relatives. I may have to buy me some. Chickens, that is. And if they stop being amusing, I can always eat them.

Comment from mojo
Time: March 24, 2016, 3:29 pm

Joe Garagiola has left the stadium. Any winner?

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: March 24, 2016, 3:55 pm

I feel like there is a dark dystopian comic just waiting to be made about the lives of your chickens, Stoaty. Maybe something along the lines of Sandman meets Animal Farm? Holy chicken guano, but that’d be some awesome drama!

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: March 24, 2016, 9:28 pm

Ms Weasel, animal behavior is a favorite topic of mine, and you are tempting me to brag about my poorly written Wolf Hunter stories.

So tell me, do your chickens recognize you as the boss chicken?

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