I went out back to tend to the chickens, and spent more time out there than usual. This relatively new group of gals is so friendly that it’s strange in itself. Just a bit over a year old now, and they walk up to the pool edge when we are swimming, come running – literally – towards me when I come out of the house or they see me across the yard. Not to peck at me like the old girls, but just to walk next to me. There are even a few that will trot out in front of me then squat to be petted. See? Strange… They did not get the memo that they are providing a service and it’s not to be a family pet!
So, upon entering the coop – I saw one of the gals was doing her thing in one of the laying boxes. She caught my eye a bit more than usual because she was panting. Did you know chickens pant? I didn’t. They also have tongues. Didn’t know that one either but I saw it during the panting… Anyway… I was concerned she needed water or something was wrong. Also, her comb and waddle were not as perky as they normally are. Usually, they are a bright pinkish/red – but they had lost all color and gone floppy.
In walks another girl – one of my favorites, who is typically right at my feet anyway – walked up the ramp and took a seat inside one of the other laying boxes. This was my first experience with this “front row Joe” spot for the egg layin’ – so, always curious, I decided to stay for the show.
Her comb was pink, but quickly turned pale and the panting started… so, this must be a normal chicken thing.
This is when my brain took a new path... I started going through all the similarities between women and chickens.
§ Most of us pant during labor too. And let out the occasional whine/cluck/holler – which the chickens all do. (Well, they cluck – me not so much… Maybe the cluck is the chicken equivalent to shouting an explicative or two or ten?)
§ They walk in looking strong and all put together, but this quickly fades when the work gets started. They are no longer concerned with anything other than the task at hand. This explains why they just keep on going about their business when the kids would pick one up to collect the eggs under her and then sit her back down. She just kept on keeping on.
§ The whole scene reminded me a lot of the hospital environment. One chicken came up and walked past the other 2 girls… made a few grumbling sounds and walked off. Couldn’t you just envision this is the chicken equivalent of a planned induction for a woman? You show up at your scheduled time to find out someone else is still using your room? You grumble and keep on walking… what else can you do except wait? This too happens to my fair feathered friends.
§ The girls that are not yet “maternal” all hovered around the waterer or the food bucket – the waiting room maybe? Some have “baby fever” but it’s just not their time?
Once the event was over, one gal stayed and nurtured her (non-fertilized) egg by cleaning it up, while the other was content to high-tail it on out of there and let the next one get to business. Again – some of the similarities to the different types of women out there.
Wonder if other animals out there are like this too? Makes me very curious… One day I may need to head into the wild and become “one with nature” to witness some of these behaviors myself. Until that day, I will continue to watch my gals and marvel.
Closing thought: Chickens do this DAILY. That right there should earn them a higher rank of respect in the world of animals. They sure earn my vote.