At the moment I have three flocks.
The laying hens: Pecky, Sweetie Hen, Zinc, the Remaining Ploska Twin, Not-Pecky-but-the-other-Barred-Rock, The Three Goldilocks, Mary-Penguin, and Rufus their Rooster, as well as the two Two Turkey who think they are laying hens – Trixie and Turks (and yes, they lay lovely, edible eggs). This flock lives in the coop attached to the barn.
Then there are the Greeks, Hecate, Hebe, Hera, and their rooster, Hades. These are very small bantams, Old English Bantams. They free-range by day and roost in the barn at night.
And last, but not least. The Fancy Banties. They live in the lean-to which also houses the pigs. I’ll do well to remember their names. Emma, my Greek-God-loving child, named most of them. With one clear exception. There is Iris, Athena, Phebe, Cocopuff, and Persophone (I think), then Celine, a creamy white bantam, the perfect moon goddess, who turned out to be a rooster, as of yesterday he is Zeus.
Well, the fancy banties don’t like living next to the noisy, hungry pigs. Makes them very nervous. So I’ve been letting them free-range with the Greeks. Then I felt bad for the laying hens and decided to let them free-range, too.
There are risks involved. Hawks. Foxes. Etc. But today we had romance.
The Laying Hens haven’t ever really accepted the Three Goldilocks and Mary Penguin as part of their flock. It’s been two months since those ladies, large laying hens, moved from the Fancy Bantie pen to the Laying Hen coop. At first there was flat out meanness, then slight meanness, then annoyance. But never acceptance and certainly not love.
Rufus, the Laying Hens’ Rooster is a Japanese Bantam. He is much, much smaller than the ladies in his flock. He has ignored the Three Goldilocks and Mary Penguin for the last two months. Too much failure, I imagine.
While I was milking this morning Hades, the God of the Greeks, began to make eyes at Mary Penguin. Hades is small, perhaps also a Japanese Bantam. He is black and white and gray. Quite Handsome.
Once Mary Penguin caught his eye the show was on. He made himself as big as big could be. Puffed out chest, Flewphed up tail. Feathers arched and fanned. He doubled his size. He beak-shined each and every feather. Over and over again. He about broke his neck trying to polish the feathers directly under his chin.
Mary Penguin watched for a minute or two and then scratched the hay around, looking for seeds or corn. Then she couldn’t help it, she went back to watching him. Sarah, my 15 year old, was watching and laughing from the feedroom. If Bonniebelle hadn’t whacked me with her tail the first time I laughed aloud – I would have had myself more than a silent chuckle. Hades was something to see.
One of the Three Goldilocks came over and studied the two of them for a while and then wandered off, unamused and certainly not falling for all the fluff.
Mary Penguin fell. Once Hades felt confident he’d won Mary Penguin’s attention he went for it. The deal maker, the sure bet. Food. Keeping his feathers big and wide he began to nose around for food. Calling Mary to come see, pointing with his beak. Unfortunately there wasn’t really anything to see. Mary Penguin looked hard and then looked disappointed. She began to wander off a bit. No longer looking at Hades.
Sarah decided to help the poor guy out. He had to be exhausted. Holding himself so big for so long. She quickly tossed a bit of corn Hades’ way. He quickly began his food call again. Mary Penguin gave him one more try. Bingo! He had done it. She moved her beak right up to his, gobbling up the corn. Handsome as the devil himself and able to produce the real thing!
When I went out a few hours later the courtship had moved to the lawn. Just the two of them, well off from any other flock.
Poor Hecate. After all the birds had settled for the night I saw her up on the fence between my field and the neighbors. She jumped over and hide in the bushes. William followed after a while and shooed her back. I shooed her into the barn, fully expecting to see Mary Penguin and Hades roosting together.
But that Mary Penguin, she is no floozy, she was right up in the rafters with the Goldilocks.
Hades was sitting on a fence, half way between Mary and the Greek Gals’ Roosting spot.
Poor Hecate jumped up with Hera and Hebe. They’ll have a good gossip tonight – I’ll bet.
“Did you see that Mary Penguin?!” “Imagine! Moving in on our man like that!” “Just ’cause she’s got those feathered feet doesn’t mean she is all that! Men will fall for anything!” “I’ve never really trusted that Hades, how can you trust a guy with a name like that? No -really I mean it! A name means something doesn’t it?” “And those green glittery tail feathers of his, can’t trust a guy that flashy. My grandma always said that, flashy fowl is falsy fowl! Maybe not quite that but something like that!” “I didn’t think Mary Penguin would do this to us. What have we ever done to her?”
PS: The oPERation is complete. Egads. Per, Eric, and I all needed a beer after that. You’d think a procedure like that would set a fellow back some, but nope, not him. Operated yesterday, today he jumped the 2 – 3 foot fence of his pen like nothing had happened.