Posted By Ann

The words we use to denigrate each other reveal our superiority complex as a species. We call someone a “silly chook” or describe them as “bird-brained” if we think they less than bright.  “Chicken-hearted” we say of someone displaying a lack of guts. If we really believe that domestic hens have neither brains nor feelings then perhaps it isn’t such a heinous crime to treat them as ‘things’ and condemn them to spend their entire lives in cramped wire cages.

I have seen ‘simple’ chooks display both intelligence and courage. A tiny Bantam hen standing up to a large dog, even to the death, in defence of her babies, is being anything but ‘chicken’. I once saw another hen with a clutch of chickens who was being pestered by a small boy wait till she saw he had his back to a brick wall before closing in and retaliating. She was too smart to waste her sharp pecks on his gum boots but directed them at his chubby knees.

I have a very special little Bantam hen in my chook family at the moment. I call her Mrs.Goldie. When dogs tore her own house to bits, and murdered her immediate family, she saved herself by flying into a wire run she had never been in before, and putting herself in the roost. Fortunately she is definitely the Alpha hen in the little group she now lives with because I did an unforgivable thing recently that could well have been tragic. Mrs Goldie and her companions have the run of the garden during the day.  A few days ago I cleaned out their little house and absent-mindedly closed the door to the outer run. I discovered this when I went to fasten them in for the night. Were they roosting in the great outdoors? If so they would be fox's breakfast. Without hope I shone my torch inside their house; they were on the perch, safe. Finding the door shut they had simply flown in over the wire. Wise Mrs. Goldie had surely led the way.

Mrs Goldie

Mrs Goldie

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