The Pecking Order Here at Sunflower Farm

| 7/11/2011 10:06:49 AM

Tags: chickens, local food, personalities, Cam Mather,

When we got our chickens I really just wanted them for their eggs. I knew they’d also make fertilizer for my gardens, but I had decided that if I was going to eat eggs I should know where they come from, and how much grain goes into producing eggs. What has surprised me is how much I enjoy them. They are so much fun to watch and they seem to have such unique personalities. So here in a nutshell, are the chickens that inhabit Sunflower Farm.


Henrietta, or Henny for short, is the ringleader of this pack of chickens. She is the alpha-male of this little gaggle of ladies and she’s decided that she’s #1 in the “pecking” order. When Flora and Belle arrived a couple of weeks after Henny and Penny, it was Henny who behaved like a bit of a thug to the other two. She was picking on Flora in particular, and it reminded me of my neighbor Ken’s stories about prison (where he worked for most of his adult life.) Ken says that inmates will single out and make an example of one easy target, so that other potential competitors for the top spot fall in line.


I’m convinced that Henny is conspiring to plan an escape from the pen that I built for them. But like Huck Finn, she’s convinced the others to do the dirty work. They’ve dug a big hole in the corner of the pen, where they plan to make their break and I’m sure it was Henny’s idea. When our HelpXers Mike & Melissa were here and we let the chickens out of the pen for some “free ranging,” they disappeared when I turned my back for a few minutes. Henny was the last one to be found that day. I found her down by the pond. I could tell she was trying to decide whether or not she could swim. She had that look… “if I could have just made it across this pond, I would have been out of here and never looked back!”

When we toss leftover rice into the pen, Henny is the fastest and most aggressive about grabbing the biggest clumps. She always picks the largest chunk of rice and she races off to a corner to devour it before the others can get to her. As I mentioned in a previous post, she is the Captain Jack Sparrow on this ship. In the morning as we lower the drawbridge/gangplank door from the coop she is always the first one to jump on and ride it down. I think she fantasizes that she is boarding a gold-laden Spanish galleon and the treasure will soon be hers. No really, I can tell this is what she’s thinking every morning.

7/14/2011 12:23:23 AM

I love it! Your chickens' social order sounds just like that of our dogs. I'm curious, how do the chickens do in the winter? What do you do special for them?

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