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