Musings of the Empress -- country life, culture and more
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Sunday, September 27, 2009
Dork crowed and laid eggs,taught cats manners, and sulked when we built the new porch.
Dork was a Silver grey Dorking chicken we owned four years ago, one of my favorite oddball birds. There are many Dork stories, but here are three.
She wore a hen-suit, feather colors patterned typically for the female of the Dorking breed. She laid eggs regularly for quite some time. Until the day "she" crowed. Egg laying dropped off from there. I admit to being startled the first time I saw her crow -- a double-take, in fact! I scurried off to my reference books and the internet. I found out that breeds, especially the old and rare ones like Dorkings( over 2000 years old) can be overbred and result in some oddball results.
Sometimes the hormone balance can change radically with age and some hens become "roosters". Talk about a challenging Change-of-Life. Imagine hitting menopause and turning into a guy. No insult intended, menfolk, but thank you --NO! At any rate she continued to crow and took over the flock of free running chickens.
From Dork's point of view, once the flock was under control, the cats had to be next. Breakfast (cat food) was served to chicken folk and cat people on the old porch each morning. The cats were young and easily impressed by sharp pecks and arial attacks. Chickens ate first, then graciously allowed the cats to clean up what was left. Once they exhibited proper manners cats were allowed to eat beside the chickens as long as they didn't get too uppity and try to hog the food.
A new batch of kittens tested Dork's patience one summer day. She sat on the porch dozing when the kits began their stalk. At some miniscule sound Dork popped one eye open and peered at the kittens. They didn't notice her watching until they were a foot from their goal. Dork exploded into a feathered fury; she chased and beat on those kittens until they were tired. She continued until SHE was tired. Amazingly, Dork really didn't hurt the babies, just taught them their place in the flock. They joined the rest of the feather-cats in the combined flock of birds and cats. An odd sight.
One thing was beyond Dork's power to control. The humans ruined everything when they began falling through the old porch and decided to tear it off. "She" watched, aghast, from a distance as the humans destroyed her castle. Reduced to sleeping on a barely strong enough twig on the tree next to the ruins ( see top picture), she glared and scolded before bed each night. She slept there every night until the new porch was started, then went off to find a new spot in the goat pasture, where most of her flock hung out since construction began. I think they couldn't stand the noise of saws, nailguns and old fashioned hammers.
She refused to use the new porch. The rest of the flock would appear for breakfast, but not Dork. She ate goat food instead, and never forgave us for our vandalism.We certainly were no friends of hers after what we'd done. We'd hear her crow from the pasture, and she'd socialize with the flock when they came to drink from the goat water pool, or scratch about in the shade.
One day the crowing disappeared, but the cats apparently still tell their kittens stories of their chicken leader. The new cats have always respectedthe chickens, even without Dork, a HomePlace legend.