The simple act of feeding my chickens a peach ends up showing me their different personalities.
By Audrey Pavia, Urban Farm contributor
Monday, March 5, 2012
Photo by Audrey Pavia
My roosters and one hen enjoy a peach from my hand.
I have always maintained that each and every animal in this world has a distinct personality, just like humans do. I have seen lots of evidence of this in my own animals. My chickens are a perfect example.
Today I was cleaning out my refrigerator and found an over-ripe peach I had missed. I’ve never given peaches to my flock, but I figured they would like it. I was right.
I started out by tearing off little pieces of peach and tossing it to them, but decided to let them eat it out of my hand when Mr. Mabel kept getting closer and closer to me and looking up at the fruit in my hand. So I crouched down and held out the peach.
Both my roosters were all over it within seconds. Mr. Mabel is the dominant rooster and the gutsiest one of all. A macho dude, the only thing that scares him is my roommate’s Corgi and small children, since he’s been chased by both. He was also handled a lot as a baby at the horse rescue, where he was born. So it’s not surprising that he was the first one pecking at the peach when I put out my hand.
A close second was Mr. Molly, my other rooster and Mr. Mabel’s brother. A gentle, sweet guy, it’s no wonder he plays second fiddle to the bossy Mr. Mabel. He was the lucky one who got to breed with the hens only one year, and that’s because he happened to land a well-placed peck to Mr. Mabel’s eye. Once the eye healed, Mr. Mabel came back with a vengeance, and Mr. Molly was put back in his place.
Mr. Molly has a softness to him that is very endearing. I can pick him up and hold him, and he doesn’t try to peck me. He never gets aggressive and is just a kind soul. His trust in me earned him some choice chunks of peach today.
The hens are another story. The two Jo's were not handled much as chicks, and so are afraid of me. As they watched the roosters peck away at the peach, they hung back. Ironically, Baby Jo, the chick born on my property, was the most timid of all. I was never able to handle her when she was young because she and her mom free-ranged and were impossible to catch.
As the roosters made short work of the peach, one of the Jo’s finally got the nerve up to take a stab at the fruit. She landed a mouthful of the juicy pulp, and was inspired to try again. But she hesitated so long in between pecks, the peach was gone before she’d had very much.
As I sat there watching these birds react to the situation, I felt so aware of the differences between them. Even the two Jo’s, who look identical to the point that I can’t tell them apart, have vastly different personalities — and courage levels.
I’ve wanted chickens my whole life because I thought it would be fun to have them, but I never imagined how much individuality I’d see within the flock. The fascinating creatures never cease to amaze me.
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