More years ago than I care to remember, a time when my now grown up kids were just toddlers, I took a poke at raising chickens. Not intending to have lavish chicken dinners or copious quantities of eggs, I decided on bantams. Bantams are just a short throw from being wild jungle fowl. They are able to fly fairly well and prefer to roost in trees at night and the eggs are quite small and usually hard to find as they tend to hide them.
So armed with all the deep farming knowledge of a streetwise city boy, I attended a local auction. As luck would have it there were some folks there selling exotic birds and I came home with a pair of their very best.
The rooster really was quite beautiful with his bright red comb and iridescent tail and wing feathers and the hen was a pale brown with an almost metal sheen.
When I got home with the new flock, the kids were all excited about the new pets as they called them, but I was determined to go into heavy production.
I had prepared a small fenced in area just north of our small house and a place for them to sleep and roost for the night. I had it all planned. In my own mind I knew that chickens had very small heads and in no way could be counted on for any amount of intelligent thought of their own.
After supper that evening I went out to lock up my newly purchased flock only to find them both in a rather tall tree in the front yard. No matter how hard I tried to coax them out the harder they tried to avoid me. Finally giving up on the idea, I went to bed secure in the knowledge that my farming days were over.
During breakfast the next morning I noticed my newly acquired flock of two descending safely from the tree (having wisely avoided any predators that may have been lurking around) now happily picking bugs and worms off the ground and settling into life on the Okkerse spread.
Interestingly as the flock grew, I began to notice that each member of the flock had their own particular place in their small society. The old rooster ruled the roost and no other rooster was allowed to touch or even come near his favourite hen. Then came the second in command rooster, he was allowed to conjugate with all the hens except the old rooster’s favorite hen and so on down the line, hence the word “Pecking Order”. In other words, if you fool around with the wrong hen, you get pecked.
The flock had grown to ten, four roosters and 6 hens. Then one day I found a beautiful white bantam rooster which we called “Grandpa”. He was totally ostracized from the rest of the flock, not only by the roosters, but also by the hens. However Grandpa was cunning. He would lurk in the bushes till an unsuspecting chicken wandered by and then would pounce and the dirty deed would be over and he had run into the bushes with a satisfied chuckle before any of the others could react.
Sometime later some chicks started to appear that had little tufts of white feathers and had a bit of a sneaky personality to them.
Do you suppose????