Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Rise of Gwen

It was an uncertain time in the coop.  With Rosamond struck down in the prime of her glory by The Owl, the flock was without a leader.  All of the other birds were wary of the situation and it seemed at first that they entered a period of confusion in their mourning.  However, one should never underestimate the ambition of a chicken.  The mechanisms of social order were already on the move before the memory of Rosamond even began to fade.

The remaining hens, post Owl-attack, numbers two; Cora and Gwen.  Cora, the larger of the two, is quiet and docile.  Her comb is larger than Gwen’s and she seems generally indifferent to most things except for sprouts and bugs.  Nothing gets Cora moving faster than a bug.  Gwen, on the other hand, is slightly smaller and definitely feistier.  Her comb is close to her head and it gives her the look of being angry all the time.  Maybe she is.  

After a day or mourning, the antics had already begun.  Something was up as both Gwen and Cora looked at one another suspiciously.  Earl was unaware of any problems and worked hard to get attention from the hens as he had recently grew a new tail feather... his only tail feather.
Not long after Rosamond's untimely death, the stink eyes began.
Earl, of course, with the typical black cloud over him.
At first there were just a lot of angry looks and stink-eyes cast hither and dither but soon it was clear, the battle for the top peep was dawning. Who had the first dibs on the food? Who was allowed to use the best watering thingamobob? Who got to use the nesting box in the morning first? These questions and many more needed answered. The logical choice is, of course, to consult Chicken Law.
Chicken Law, once passed from chicken to chicken, was only recently enshrined in written form.

Chicken Law, Lead Chicken, Section 4 titled "How to determine lead head hen", paragraph six, provision II, sub paragraph 3 states, "In the event of the loss the flock's head hen, all other hens must wait a period of time consisting of the time between the loss of the head hen and the rising of the next day's sun before deciding on who the next head hen will be, unless the death happens at night, which in such case all hens must wait a period of time that is equal to the setting of one day's sun and the rising of another. This is unless the weather forbids the rising of the next days sun or forbids the flock from exiting the coop, which in such cases a special provision is established that all birds must play nice and share everything equally until such a day allows its sun to rise at which time the head hen can be decided."

Sub paragraph 4 goes on to say, "To decide who will be the head hen, all bets are off, all forms of fighting are permitted and though death is frowned upon it is acceptable.  Wing beating, head pecking and chasing are all valid forms of deciding who is head hen. If by the end of the day a single hen has all other chickens bowing down to her and serving her every whim, that chicken is proclaimed head hen. Coronation ceremonies are not required but highly encouraged." So Gwen attacked Cora.

All is fair in love and war.

A week before Gwen and Cora quietly chatted between one another about how awful Rosmand was behaving that when Rosamond was removed as a variable, so too was the civility between Gwen and Cora.  In the world of chickens, however, when life can be fleeting, one can understand how every chicken, no matter how much or how little ambition she may have, has to seize the moment. On the other hand, Cora didn’t care much.  She was surprised by the sudden act of incivility but her ambition didn’t demand she been queen of the coop, her ambition lay with the cracked corn sealed in the container she sits upon every day, trying hard to open it. Some hens need dominance and to rule over all, others just want cracked corn and some bugs.

Gwen, Queen of the Coop...for now.

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