Don't let the title of this post deceive you; it's not about the actual birds of prey (hawks and falcons) but it is the names of the two gangs my chickens have broken off into. Let's channel West Side Story, shall we...
Thankfully between these two gangs there are no star-crossed lovers, but Chicken Hawk is the leader of the Hawks (imagine that) and Cad-Buddy is the leader of the Falcons. Both roosters have taken to wearing large quantities of hair grease and I have seen both of them smoking cigarettes. And for some reason they started talking with New York accents...
I know this because I have seen it with my own eyes. But I didn't know what was going on at first. In the beginning, we noticed a group of chickens roosting on the old roost we placed out in the kennel area in the evenings when we went out to the barn to do the nightly routine. It was odd behaviour because it wasn't as if the coop light was off and they had taken to roosting in a lighted area. It even happened when the kennel light was off and the only light on was the beacon in the coop to signal everyone to come in at night. Personally, I didn't think chickens would settle down for the night in the dark without a light to guide them in. Oh well, apparently I was wrong. Goes to show what I know...
This went on for several days and we eventually accepted it as the new normal. However, the other day, I got a tip from one of the steers, and for his safety, he will remain nameless. He told me there was discontempt going on within the flock and that everyone had broken up into two groups. Their behaviour resembled that of gangs and the littlest steers were becoming afraid.
I was puzzled. I hadn't noticed anything...no shoes were thrown over the phone lines, the walls were free of graffiti tags...how could all this have happened without my knowledge?
I decided to do some spy work. One day as the chickens were pecking around outside, I hunkered down behind some hay and waited. I wanted to catch them in the act. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long. Soon Chicken Hawk came bumbling in with about 9 hens chattering behind him. I was too far away to make out everything they were saying...something about Falcons, turf and rumbles. After several minutes, I couldn't even see them...the kennel area where they had congregated became very smokey since everyone in the Hawks had a Marlboro.
Suddenly, Chicken Hawk jumped up on the old roost and broke out into song:
"When you're a hawk
You're a hawk when you lay,
From your first cluck or squawk,
To your last dyin' day!"
I had no idea Chicken Hawk was such a thespian! He was really good! And boy, could he sing!
"When you're a hawk,
If the poo hits the fan,
You got sisters around,
You're a family wo-man!"
Personally, I was looking forward to hearing the rest of the song and watching the intricate choreography, but before Chicken Hawk could go on, the Falcons, led by Cad-Buddy, came bursting through the door, snapping their wings and a rumble broke out.
After several minutes of total chaos, I was able to break it all up and seperate the two groups. Calming everyone down enough to calmly talk to them took another several minutes. I finally found out that a disagreement had broken out between Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk several weeks ago, and eventually each hen had taken a side. It had escalated to gang behaviour and turf wars. They had refused to roost together at night, had decided us by placing look outs and regrading us as the "fuzz" and it has been Gracie supplying them with cigarettes...
This story is completely false, except we DO have several hens who think the new roost at night is the one in the kennel. Every night we have to corral several chickens into the coop with my pink hog stick.
Chickens will always keep you on your toes. Once you have established a routine, they will screw it up. Once you think you have them all contained, they will show you you don't. Once one drama is solved, they will find another...
It never ends.
...cluck... cluck... cluck...