French Hens

A lit­tle rooster called Psy­cho Ken is caus­ing prob­lems for Ja­nine’s flock in France

Your Chickens - - Contents - * Ja­nine Marsh is au­thor of My Good Life in France.

My chick­ens are gen­er­ally a happy bunch who oc­cupy two large pens at the bot­tom of my one-acre gar­den. Kendo Na­gasaki, a Ja­panese ornamental cock­erel, is in one pen with seven old girls. He chases them about oc­ca­sion­ally, but by and large they ig­nore him and, as they’re big­ger than him, and he calls them when there are treats and lets them eat first, Team Kendo is a happy bunch.

In the other pen lives Gre­gory Peck Jr., a hand­some and very large black cock­erel who is rather less se­date. En­am­oured of his own good looks, he likes to let the eight girls in his harem know who’s boss. He struts and screeches, sleeps in a tree, never shares, takes what he wants, likes a bit of a tear up and is most def­i­nitely king of the coop. Team Peck are a bit less laid back than their neigh­bours.

Kendo and Gre­gory Peck Jr. tol­er­ate each other. They have cock-a-doo­dle-doo con­tests which can go on for hours. From time to time one of them will ven­ture into the other’s ter­ri­tory, which causes a bit of a furore. The girls squeal, the boys do a bit of stomp­ing and chas­ing – then Kendo scarpers.

THEN A CHANGE….

Lately, though, things have not been so calm.

Ken, the or­phan chicken (no re­la­tion to Kendo), whom we found in the woods, cute, aban­doned and just hatched with an­other chick we call Bar­bie, has taken to tor­ment­ing both older cock­erels. He is a minia­ture bird but doesn’t seem to be aware of it. He is much taken with peck­ing me on the back of the legs. He chases ev­ery­one, ter­rorises the cats who’ve learned to keep out of his way and even chal­lenges the dogs. He pa­trols the gar­den and clearly feels it’s his, all his. If he wore a T-shirt it would read ‘Who’s the Daddy’.

Be­cause Ken is so small, I was wor­ried he would be bul­lied by the other birds, so I got him and Bar­bie a lit­tle chicken house in the gar­den and not in the pens. In fact, quite the op­po­site has hap­pened. Kendo and Gre­gory Peck Jr. now live in one pen to­gether be­cause ‘Psy­cho Ken’, as my kids call him, has de­cided he doesn’t want to live in the gar­den but in a pen… Kendo’s Pen.

Kendo has moved with his girls to the other side, and keeps out of Gre­gory Peck Jr.’s way. If Psy­cho Ken at­tempts en­try, Gre­gory Peck and Kendo team up and chase him out. Ken is very nim­ble and smart and he can fly ex­tremely well. He man­ages to avoid trou­ble whilst caus­ing max­i­mum dis­plea­sure, danc­ing about on the out­side of the fence while his ri­vals rave.

Far from be­ing hen­pecked by the rest of the gang, he ap­pears to be stag­ing a coup in the coop.

It seems that, in the land of chick­ens, size may not be the most im­por­tant thing.

Far from be­ing hen­pecked, he ap­pears to be stag­ing a coup

ABOVE LEFT: Psy­cho Ken TOP RIGHT: Kendo Na­gasaki ABOVE RIGHT: Gre­gory Peck

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