This week we received two lovely gifts from neighbors who know we are poultry fanciers. Don gave us his grandmother’s egg basket, which has to be 100 years old. I told Eddie that, judging by the size of this bucket, Grandma Claussen must have had a whole passel of hens! Then neighbor Buffie brought me a charming and very practical apron, decorated with colorful chickens.
But the best gift of all this week was the opportunity to see Rambo doing his job…protecting the flock. He’s only been with us for a week, but he is already watching out for his girls. He keeps his head up most of the time, watching and listening for anything unusual. A few days ago I was in the hen yard when I heard him make a loud, strange call and suddenly I saw all the hens running for the coop. At the same time he was striding toward the creek. Just then, a Great Blue Heron landed next to the water.
This heron comes to the creek quite often and is looking for fish, not hens, but Rambo obviously heard a large bird overhead and sounded the alert. He stood watching the heron for awhile and when it flew off he called the girls out again.
One peculiarity of poultry is that they have organs for perceiving vibrations. These are located predominantly on the legs, but also on the skin. They feel vibrations off the ground and in the atmosphere, which helps them to recognize enemies very quickly. Besides crowing, roosters have a lot of other sounds, including different warning sounds for an enemy from the air like a big bird, and from the ground like a dog.
Strange as it may seem, observing the unique personalities of each of our chickens and watching them interact is a fascinating and relaxing activity. I have my coffee with them every morning and visit them again at the end of the day… and that’s a gift that keeps on giving!