At the bottom of our garden is a chicken palace/run.
It houses our 4 chickens. We have two species and maybe due to my ageing grey matter, I cannot for the life of me remember which sort they are. Never mind. That isn't the reason for my story, or is it? Mmmm..
They came from the same breeder and were in the same pen so we assumed that they got on or at least knew each other wel enough to get on. My husband Leen chose two and I chose two, so 2 x 2.
It didn't take long to realise that these chooks weren't as chummy as we thought. We hadn't noticed that in the large coup they came from. And well, it seems where more than one share a space, there always needs to be a BOSS. A leader, one that gives the go ahead and says, "go on, you can eat now. I've had my fill, picked out the yummiest bits, the rest is yours". That's the way it goes, in a chook run? Well, we kept an eye on things for a wee while. Thought, they need time to settle in, new surroundings, tons of space, different food. Excellent care.
It has been just over a year now. And boy oh boy, have I spent hours observing their behaviour. Whilst 'the boss' is a chicken- she actually wears the trousers and acts like a rooster ( except she lays the eggs). Part two of this duo, due to bullying, is the runt of the group. And totally understandably, has escaped a couple of times.
I actually feed her separately, secretly and on the quiet so that the 'boss' doesn't hear the grain fall on the surface. As soon as I walk past the run she gets all geared up to sneakely make her way to her feeding spot. If she has to pass her agressor, she makes a wide birth not wanting to arouse suspicion. Once arrived she stands there on her -weak in the knees, spindly legs- trembling all over.
Funnily enough the other two just kept to themselves, mindful they could be next. Whilst eating they keep their beady eye on the 'boss' just in case. They try to keep a safe and healthy distance and seem quite relaxed.
The niggly part is, is that the 'boss' is the only chook laying at present. I have dark thoughts about this chook and am not proud of them. Still, I am for the underdog ( in this case chook) and feel even the soup pot is too good for the 'boss'. Bet it's a tough bird!
A couple of days ago we noticed that our wee chook limped. Lookt whispy and sad. We set het apart with food and water close within beaks reach. She can't be intimidated now and has her own safe space to get well.
Lo and behold, what did I see this morning, The 'boss' has found herself another scapegoat ( chicken). Poor thing just skirted around and on higher ground just in time before it got henpecked. Appears the 'boss' needs a target and isn't slow in finding a replacement. A birth defect, in the genes, acquired habit???
I have a dilemma. Do I rid the chookrun of this bully? I am sure that as soon as we allow our wee one to rejoin the group she'll be picked on, the weakest is always the target. Assuming ofcourse she'll get well enough to go back that is.
Well, now here's the thing! This is the story of our chookrun. It sounds awefully similar to stories I read in the paper. Stories in society. Those thinking they have the unspoken right to 'rule' over others. Those who can't bear being 'one of the crowd'. Those who 'pick the best' out of everything, first in line. They are swift, alert, and don't miss a trick. And if they feel cheated or robbed- they hand out punishment, they don't end up in the soup!
I want peace in my chookrun. There is more than enough space, room for privacy. There is space for a gathering. Togetherness, They can sleep apart of snuggle up. When peace reigns, more eggs will follow though that isn't my main concern. Even without eggs - all I want is PEACE on EARTH.
It is the Epiphany today ( Three Kings). The Christmas story has just begun. Let's not douse the fire just yet. Let's stoke it up and let the flames be seen from afar, drawing people to it- together! Let there be PEACE - on everyone's turf!