I’d heard of chickens having a pecking order before, but I’d never experienced it firsthand until one of my co-workers asked me if I would adopt three chickens. (They belonged to her oldest son, who was going off to college and unfortunately couldn’t bring them to the Ivory Tower.)
“Sure,” I said. “I’ve already got six; three more won’t make much of a difference.”
I figured our Chicken Palace, designed and built by my multi-talented husband, could offer plentiful accommodations for our new residents.
I’d seen my chickens take the occasional swipes at each other, but it was never anything that lasted more than a second or did any damage. Thus, I wasn’t prepared for their reaction when the Avian Interlopers arrived.
Sage and I had gone to my co-worker’s house with an old dog crate, loaded our new residents into it, and carried the clucking load into the chicken pen. After a minute or two, the new arrivals stumbled out, disoriented. My chickens watched warily, but nothing happened for a few minutes as the new chickens got their bearings.
Then the fights began. I never before realized that sleek-feathered hens, burbling in such apparent contentment, held such a profound inner rage. But the new hens and old quickly clashed, jumping at each other with feathers raised and pecking furiously, making me feel like I had a cock-fighting pit on my hands.
Fortunately, no blood was drawn, and now the chickens seemed to have arrived at a detente. Each group sticks to its own turf, and despite the occasional clash, the pen seems fairly peaceful.
The two groups of chickens aren’t friends yet, but they’re starting to accept their mutual destiny as residents of a shared piece of Earth.
If only humans could do the same.