It may be hard to believe, but I find some of my quietest moments in the hen house.
If you asked me a dozen years ago if I’d find myself seeking solace in the chicken coop, my answer would have been a definite NO. Now, I spend a lot of time in the “hen house”. No one follows me there (except Cupcake, our pup). I go to check on the hens, make sure they all have food and water, and I also collect eggs.
I have discovered that spending time in the coop has enabled me to get to know our birds really well. There’s Mama Hen, who is our oldest hen and who has been with us the longest. She survived a blood bath in which all our other chickens and ducks were killed by a wild animal the other year. Mama Hen rules the roost.
Then there’s our big boy. We call him Big Red. He is gorgeous and he is the second in command next to Mama Hen. He is forceful and assertive. He is also a show off.
There are quite a few characters and they all co-exist nicely. Occasionally there is a bit of drama. Quite frankly, life in the hen house reminds me a lot of life in the human world. We somehow ended up with three young roosters among the lot. We will have to separate the hens and roosters soon. There’s this one little guy who has been attempting to mate with a few of the hens. The poor guy gets rejected and then the other two roosters gang up on him. It’s quite pitiful to see him running away.
From spending time among the birds, I now know where the sayings “hen house” and “pecking order” come from.
Hen house can mean a farm building or small shed for keeping poultry in, but it can also mean a place where the girls hang out. My husband uses phrases like “Oh, it’s a hen party!” A hen party is when a group of ladies get together, have fun and talk about everything — gossip included.
Pecking order is a hierarchy of status seen among members of a group of people or animals, originally as observed among hens. This is so apparent in the chicken coop. If you watch for a while, you’ll notice in our coop, Mama Hen is still top hen and is the boss. I’ve seen her pecking at others to remind them of where they are on the list!
It’s interesting to note the similarities in some of the behaviours birds and people share. The hen house is a small scale example of the human world. There’s rivalry, jealousy and rage. While I’ve seen birds attack a single target, I’ve also witnessed birds banding together and coming to the aid of others. I’ve seen hens protecting other hens. I’ve seen a rooster protecting the females. I’ve seen competition for food. I’ve seen cooperation and team work in trying to open up an apple and sharing it among other chickens.
I quite enjoy my quiet time among the birds. It’s my time to myself. My time to reflect and be a bit introspective.
Where do you go to find some quiet time? What do you do to have “downtime”?