06 November 2007

Chickens are incredibly stupid animals.

We have been around chickens enough to realize that their stupidity manifests itself entirely through their total lack of ability to reason, problem-solve, or remember what happened two days ago. This is why chickens don't do well with even mildly dangerous situations. Chickens are not who you want to be around in an emergency.

What's cool about chickens–ours at least–is that their inability to handle stress is different for each chicken, but consistent. A chicken's personality is pretty much completely made up by their crazy reactions to various situations. I took this photo on Saturday, when Kelly was tossing some spare compost into the chickens' pen. I caught a scoop of compost mid-flight, and each chicken is reacting exactly how they always react to anything out of the ordinary.

Bertha, the middle chicken, is blurry in the photo because she is tucking her head between her wings and dropping into the crouching/cowering position that she adopts in response to just about everything she sees. This might explain why she's been attacked by a hawk twice (which is why the feathers on her back are all splotchy in places).

Peggy-O, the chicken on the right, is whipping her head around so she can run towards the large, dark, heavy, falling object. This is why, during the second hawk attack last year, the hawk was able to gnaw off her head feathers. She looked like a monk.

On the left is Stella, the largest and wisest chicken. She's frozen in place, trying to stand at alert and figure out what is going on. And this is why she spent the first hawk attack hiding in the pine trees for two days afterwards, and hiding in the shed for two days after the second.

Note that none of the chickens realized they could actually run away from the big thing in the air.

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