Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘perch

Pecking Order

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Oh, yes, there is a pecking order among the chickens. The horses, too, for that matter, although there isn’t so much pecking involved with those three. It’s more like a big bite.

Lately, Cyndie has noticed that Hunter is taking issue with Dezirea. The other day he kicked in her direction with both legs to make his point.

I got frustrated with the horses’ antics a few days ago while doing the regular “housekeeping” under the overhang, so I established a horse-free zone until I was finished. I pinned my ears back, figuratively, and ushered them all out with big energy.

There is no question about their understanding. After a few tries to return, which were met with my same high energy message, they resorted to pacing along the imaginary boundary I had established. Several times, when I turned to deposit a scoopful into the wheelbarrow, Hunter checked to see if the order was still in effect, by trying to step in behind me.

I simply turned back from my task to assure him I wasn’t done yet and the area was still closed to them.

After Cayenne’s little nip on my shoulder last week, they have been receiving fresh messages from me that I am above them in the pecking order around here, and demanding the respect that a herd leader deserves.

Yesterday afternoon, I puttered in the compost area with the chickens, moving piles around to create new space. Two chickens, in particular, a yellow Buff Orpington and black Australorp, appeared to be in some sort of contest to outdo each other to see who could eat the most of whatever the disturbed piles revealed.

It’s fascinating to watch the chickens work, actually. They have a very keen eye for the movement of crawling and wiggling creatures. When I slide the pitchfork into a pile and lift out a scoop, there can be quite a few worms or centipedes uncovered and the chickens pursue them with gusto.

At first, the birds are jumpy about my activity and they flinch and startle over my movements, but with each successive rotation of my coming in with the fork or scoop, and then pulling out to turn and dump it in a different spot, they show more confidence.

This allows them to remain close –I would even call it, in the way– so that they are in prime position to make the most of the easy pickings when my fork suddenly uncovers many different delicacies all at once.

I actually adjusted my task to accommodate them, splitting my attention between two piles to give the chickens full access to one whenever so many birds showed up at once to feast that I couldn’t dig around them.

I saw that same Buff Orpington and an Australorp pair get into a wrestling match over one morsel. Eventually, I noticed the Wyandottes get picked on and chased away by both other breeds. They seem to be the lowest in the pecking order.

This adds intrigue to the fact that one Wyandotte often chooses to perch on the tiny space of a cross stud against the wall above the window in the coop at night.

That spot is well above all the rest of the hens on the roost. Maybe she is making a statement to all the others by  spending the night alone up there.

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Tail Feathers

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Our chicks were born a week ago yesterday, shipped a week ago today, and arrived to us a week ago tomorrow. In this past week we have gone from knowing nothing about chickens to understanding and nurturing these ten to a successful adjustment where they are thriving in the new home we have provided.

Considering that I was unsure they would all survive the first night with us, we have come a long way in a very short time. During a long visit with the brood last evening, I came to see how each day’s success will make it that much harder to accept that first unfortunate occasion when we lose one (or more) of them to a predator. The longer time we have to connect with them, the greater the loss a death will be.

While Sunday we caught a few first glimpses of what surely must be the beginnings of tail feathers, a day later the new feathers were hard to miss.

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We added a tempting perch in the form of a small branch across the big trough, to give them something to aim for in their rapid transformation into able-bodied chickens.

My new goal is to figure out how to convince Delilah that she must protect these birds from all threats, foreign and domestic, so any predators that find themselves attracted to our turf by the presence of chickens will be dissuaded by the large white teeth of our four-footed shepherd.

I hope she never figures out that these beautiful birds called chickens are the same as the stuff that comes out of the cans of dog food she gets served. We want our birds to keep their tail feathers.

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Written by johnwhays

March 28, 2017 at 6:00 am