18/1/2020 0 Comments
What would the new sleeping arrangement mean for the flock dynamics (if you can call them a flock yet)? What would happen to the pecking order if Goldie formed an alliance with Wilma? Would Wilma offer her protection from Maude? I hardly read the latest LRB over my breakfast bagel (on Coleridge and ghosts, and the ghosts of words in the poetry of Wordsworth and other Romantics, and on the ghosts of roads untrodden in Romantic and modern poetry, a review worth lingering over, worth a third coffee even, if hens weren't waiting), before I was down at the coop, the hens rushing towards the door, Wilma in the lead, Maude close behind, Mabel keeping close to Maude, Goldie hanging back. The pecking order, it seems, is completely unchanged. Wilma kept a fierce guard over her food bowl, when I fed the younger three Maude kept Goldie away, and Mabel deferred to Maude, and when Wilma came over all three fled from her. With a coop the size of theirs, and with its hen-house, free-standing nesting box, perches and bushes, there are plenty of escape routes, and with food scattered around in enough places there will always be access to food for every bird (including Wilma's blackbird), but there is no let-up of tension and no sudden bond between Wilma and Goldie. Maude did let Goldie join Mabel and herself when they curled up together in a feathered heap after Wilma chased them away from the food one too many times for them to feel like returning to the fray.
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