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Friday, January 8, 2010

Chicken antics

An occurance we observed in our chicken flock---

Recently we made gingerbread houses. The left over icing sat out overnight and hardened into crunchy candy. I decided to treat our hens to some holiday sugar, so I scraped a couple cups of hard icing into their pasture. Immediately the hens flocked to the site to investigate the new food. One of our hens, named Princess, is an extremely fat Cochin.   Somehow she was the first one on the scene and gave the white mound a tentative peck. Tasting sugar for the first time in her life must have been earth-shattering for this little hen. It transformed her completely.

She realized a good thing when she tasted it and strategically she placed a foot on either side of the mound and lowered her head aggressively, like a bull about to charge. She looked all the other hens in the eye and clearly said, "Don't even think about it. This ambrosia is MINE." Some of the younger hens were too eager to notice her warning, and they ran in to peck crumbles of icing from under Princess' wings. She turned and bit them quickly to send them on their way, but alas, now they, too, had a taste of sugar. Throwing caution to the wind, they ran circles around Princess, popping their beaks down to skim pieces of candy off the hill of sugar.

Princess frantically spun in circles trying to punish each offender with a bite. There were 10 of them, and only one of her. Her spinning managed to break large pieces of icing off of the pile, and one young hen saw her chance. Rushing quickly for the prize, she plucked up a large piece of candy  the size of her head and dashed away so she could eat it. Unfortunately, Princess saw the theft and wanted it back. Nevermind about the food she already claimed; she must have every last piece to herself.  Forgetting about the bounties beneath her, she immediately left the pile of candy and ran after the young hen.

On the other side of the pasture, Princess chased the young hen, who was much faster than her. Princess is so fat that she waddled awkwardly as she desperately tried to tell the hen to stop taking bites of her treasure.  She squawked on the top of her lungs (between gasps for air as she tried to catch her breath). The young hen mocked her openly, holding candy in its mouth as it danced just out of Princess' reach, when it would quickly take a bite and then dash off again before Princess could catch up.

Meanwhile, the pile of candy was descended upon in the blink of an eye by over a dozen eager chickens. In a matter of seconds, it was all gone, leaving not even a trace of white against the ground.

When Princess caught up to the offending hen and realized the candy was gone, she screeched in frustration, turned tail, and ran as fast as she could (which by now was pathetically slow) back to the original pile of candy, only to find it gone without a trace. She turned a few frantic circles looking for any crumb of sugar, gave up and squawked in frustration, plopping herself on the ground in a mixture of exhaustion and disappointment. I've never seen such expressive body language in a chicken.

We all had a great laugh at the expence of Princess' pride. It reminded me of the Aesop fable of the greedy dog and the bone. What a great teaching moment for our kids! Greediness yields misery!


Becky said...

This story was awesome! Thanks for the good laugh and the lesson well-written.

Shelley Bowman said...

You really have such a way with words and paint fantastic pictures! PS love the new family pic!

Unknown said...

Gotta love chickens. They are too funny.