Yesterday my hens had a new experience. A friend has a lot of hens, and two of her cockerels had attacked each other and had to be separated. I will take one, I said. Although it might be a short visit, because my Black Rocks are terrible thugs.
The theory behind having Mr Cockerel was that he would keep the girls in check, so that when I get my late Christmas present hens (hopefully next week) I will not have to spend months keeping them separate so that the Black Rocks do not try to kill them. My original plan was to put Mr C in the stable and keep him shut in until night and then bung him in with the girls. I warned my neighbour we had him, and trotted off back to work in my nice thick stone walled house, well insulated from sound. A couple of hours later I went out into the garden, and there, floating effortlessly over the couple of hundred yards between him and me was Mr C, cockadoodling. Every 10 seconds. After frantic consultation with my friend, we decided that Mr C should just meet the girls.
They weren't sure what he was, but they were absolutely sure he was no ordinary hen. Mr C marched up and down, flapping wildly and posturing (I should say at this point that he is a Bantam cockerel, so not large). The Black Rocks did not immediately steam out and try to beat him up. They all goggled in horror. WHAT had I visited upon them, they thought. Maybe I am on to something, I thought. Mr C was also quiet. I was quietly confident my great plan would work. Bess, Queen Hen, then decided that whatever Mr C was, he was in her territory and needed telling who was boss. Two forays later, things were pretty much at a stalemate. I decided to leave them to it.
I went back up to give the hens their afternoon feed. Oh dear. Bess had obviously asserted herself. Mr C was chased across the paddock; barged away from the food, and ignored by the others. He was quite obviously at the bottom of the heap. On the plus side, he was at least quiet. Poor little cockerel. I returned him whence he came, where he does at least have two wives who appreciate him. A life at the bottom of the hen heap, not allowed to do your thing, is no life for a chap. Hens don't really do expression, but if a hen could be said to exude smug superiority, that hen was Bess.