A hen called Boules doesn’t stand any non­sense… es­pe­cially from a randy drake

Your Chickens - - Contents -

Boss lady

We have ducks as well as chick­ens. They range freely in two sep­a­rate groups through­out the day and usu­ally all is calm and peace­ful. Some­times, though, if the two groups get too close to each other, the drake will get a fruity look in his eye and start sidling up to the chick­ens. If they don’t no­tice him, he will lurch into a wad­dle and try to mate with the hens. Usu­ally, the hens avoid him ef­fort­lessly, but ev­ery now and then he gets one cor­nered and grabs the feath­ers at the back of her neck and tries to leap on top of her. This is where the cock­erel comes into his own. With an out­raged cackle, he launches him­self at the drake and drives him away, flap­ping and yelling var­i­ous chick­eny com­ments along the lines of ‘and let that be a les­son to you! Pack it in!’. Peace re­stored, the cock­erel re­turns to his hens with a self-sat­is­fied swag­ger and an air of smug­ness that can only be de­scribed as ‘cocky’.

So, when I heard a shouty com­mo­tion and saw the drake try­ing it on with one of the older hens, I knew it wouldn’t be long be­fore the sit­u­a­tion was re­solved with­out any in­ter­ven­tion from me. Sure enough, the drake sud­denly ran past me with an angry chicken in pur­suit, but to my sur­prise it wasn’t the cock­erel chas­ing the drake - it was Boules, one of our hens.

Boules is an odd hen. She is seven years old, still lays well and raises a brood most years. De­spite be­ing el­derly in chicken terms, she is def­i­nitely the boss hen and, in those pe­ri­ods where we’ve been be­tween cock­erels, she steps up and takes charge. She’s a strong be­liever in women’s lib­er­a­tion and once staged a revolution where she started crow­ing and tried to get the hens to fol­low her in­stead of the cock­erel. The hens de­cided to stick with cock­erel and Boules gave in with good grace, but it’s clear she is still a feisty bird who will not take any non­sense from cock­erels or drakes. She’s chased the drake away sev­eral times since that first time I saw her, and though she shows no signs of want­ing to stage an­other revolution, if I were a cock­erel I would keep a very close eye on her.

She is still a feisty bird who will not take any non­sense from cock­erels or drakes

ABOVE: Our drake, with that cheeky look in his eye IN­SET: Young Boules - even when very young, Boules was a per­son­al­ity to be reck­oned with.

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