Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Dynamics of our Flock

My small, backyard flock consists of four adult hens: the leader of the pecking order, Bossy, a big beautiful Plymouth Rock (a.k.a. Barred Rock); Erickson, a fat and juicy-looking buff Brahma who is working on keeping her status as next in the pecking order; Pouncey, an Ameraucana mutt who disappointingly lays plain brown eggs when I was hoping for the green or blue eggs that Ameraucauna/Aracauna/Easter Eggers are supposed to lay (though she is still my favorite of the girls); and, Ochocinco, an Iowa Blue and the lowest member of the pecking order.

We added to the flock when Erickson the Brahma decided to go broody on us, which means she desperately wanted to hatch some eggs. Our eggs are obviously not fertile and will not hatch seeing as we don't have a rooster, so every day we would go out to collect the eggs and have to fight her off whatever eggs she managed to be sitting on that day. Let me just say that this was not the funnest of tasks. She started getting pretty mean. I'd be pissed too if someone came into my house, stuck her hand under me, and stole the potential babies right out from under my butt every day. She made the meanest clucking sounds you can imagine coming from a chicken and then there was the pecking. I was not a fan of the pecking. It didn't hurt to be honest with you, but it was scary to stick my hand in the nesting box and have her turn her head around at me and peck at my hand and wrist. She meant business. A friend who I call The Chicken Man suggested getting her some eggs to hatch so she'd stop being so mean and he rounded up seven fertile eggs. To make a long story short, she sat on those eggs for three weeks and hatched out five beautiful little Japanese-Old English Game Bantams. They're turning six-weeks old this week.

We started our farming adventure in October of last year, except our orginial bunch consisted of only three chickens: two buff Brahmas and an Ameraucana. They were around two to three months old. A few months in we realized one of the Brahmas was a rooster! He was the size of a turkey and clearly not at all like the other little fluffy puffy Brahma. He was a sweet guy, but we're not interested in the illegal keeping of a rooster in city limits, so off he went to live with a fellow chicken farmer in Granville County. That's when we gained the Barred Rock and the Iowa Blue.

The chicks have added an interesting twist to the dynamics of the flock. Erickson, having been separated from the flock to hatch and begin raising her chicks, is now making sure her underlings don't think they can usurp her rightful place in the pecking order, and Ochocinco wants to make sure the chicks realize that she's above them in all things that matter. Bossy just keeps on keeping on because no one is daring enough to try a coup. Pouncey is just trying not to get pummeled by Erickson. And the chicks: Leia, Han, Lando, Jengo and Bobba, try not to get trampled in the rush for treats.

They're the most fun thing to watch on a Sunday afternoon in the backyard. We spent an hour and a half sitting outside watching them in today's ninety degree heat. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

1 comment:

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