Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Things Aren't Always What They First Appear...

I was going through some old photos tonight and ran across this one of my husband standing out in the back yard of the old house one evening years ago.
 Which looks fine, all is normal...until you realize that he has a chicken on his head.

She'd decided that she wanted to roost there for the night.

This was Poof the white crested black Polish hen's first night with us.  She had been sold to us from the feed store, who not only claimed that she was a rooster, but also 'mean'.  Well, as I stood at the feed store looking at the chicken pen, I knew that they were wrong on the 'rooster' part, and asked the lady helping me why they took this particular bird to be 'mean'.

"Because if you walk into the pen, that bird comes right up to you and tugs on your pant leg!"


Anyone who knows chickens, knows the difference between flogging--a quick charge at you and a beating with the wings and claws, a true attack--from the behavior this woman was describing--a bird walking up to you, gently grabbing your pant leg and tugging a bit to get your attention.

What Poof was really doing was the universal chicken signal that means, 'Pick me up.'  Certain chickens are little attention sponges and demand affection.  Sometimes they'll also stand on your foot so that you cannot get away without paying attention to them.  I knew right away that Poof had been someone's special pet, and she came home with us.

I was right--she was as sweet, gentle and friendly as they came, and took especially to my daughter, then 4 years old, who was also the one who named her.  This was taken the same evening, when Poof wanted to climb into her lap.
 Poof wanted nothing more than to hang with people, and would actually, honest to God play with my daughter--first she'd chase Poof, then Poof would chase her, and back again, around and around the nectarine tree, the kid giggling like mad.  If the kid stopped before she was ready, Poof would come up to her and want to play more.  None of the other chickens would participate and would in fact look at the two of them like they were crazy.

'Now don't you chase me!'

...and off they'd go.

Other chickens running away from the crazy-headed chicken.

It was one of the weirdest, sweetest chicken behaviors I've ever seen, and they played like this for several years.

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