Monday, January 5, 2009

A shift in the balance of power

I promised to never write about politics again, but sometimes it just happens. On our farm there are two ongoing political battles. The first is my battle with the government, trying to keep from getting buried in the ever increasing blizzard of regulation aimed at putting small producers out of business. The second battle that has been raging for a while is for dominance in the chicken flock. We have two roosters (yes, I know that is two too many). Polka-dot, the Silver Spangled Hamburg, who has been in the flock from the beginning, and an Araucana (as yet unnamed) who is just a bit over a year old.

For most of his life Polka-dot was second and spent a lot of time avoiding everyone. We had a huge Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster (called The Big Mean Rooster, because he was) and he ruled the roost. When he moved up the mountain to fight with the raccoons at another farm (we still see bloody coons coming down the mountain.) Polka-dot came into his own. The Araucana hens and rooster were introduced shortly after that, but Polka-dot was definitely the boss. As the Araucana got older he spent his time running from everyone.

Yesterday everything changed. I went out to the coop to gather the eggs and found Polka-dot huddled in a corner, head buried and looking dead. I pulled him out and was pleased to find he was fine, but the second he came out the door the Araucana set on him and chased him all over the run. Complete role reversal. Today there is an uneasy truce. Polka-dot is out foraging with the rest of the flock, but he leaves the hens alone, keeping to the fringes, and bolts anytime the Araucana moves in his direction.

What we haven't told the roosters is that their only purpose in life it to give the hens someone to pick on so they don't kill each other. It works really well. According to C it works at her office too. The one male thinks he is the top of the heap, but he really just serves as a target for all the hens to snipe at so they leave each other alone and can work together.

The new King - Mr. Araucana

Polka-dot - King in exile


Kim said...

Poor Polka Dot! While I admit the new top kick rooster is more magnificient, I still feel sorry for Polka Dot.

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

Oh, such a familiar tale! Both in my chicken coop and my workplace.

inadvertentfarmer said...

Ohhh that is exactly why I don't work in an office...I don't get along well with hens, lol! Your new rooster is just stunning. All of our roosters got eaten by a bobcat when I banned them to the orchard to leave the poor hens alone. 5 roosters got eaten in a matter of minutes, it was a blood bath. Needless to say no more chickens in the orchard!


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