No… I mean it. And the Rhode Island Reds are especially ornery little hens.
On any typical day the chickens are running around the property here there and everywhere. Getting into stuff they’re not supposed to, eating the dog kibble (which is a lot more expensive than chicken kibble), and generally making a nuisance of themselves. The dogs completely ignore them so their uppity attitudes are lost on my hounds, the cat steers clear of them because she can recognize a troublemaker when she see's one, but they get pesty and stubborn with me on a regular basis - stamping their feet and hunkering down in their mulish little way, forcing me to actually pick them up to remove them from off-limits places (like my hay bale stack). But their most favorite pastime is to torment the ducks and geese.
This morning I heard a ruckus in front of the barn and went to have a look… my Cornish Rock chicken had puffed herself all up and was guns-drawn on my 14 lbs Muscovy boy who outweighs her by a dozen pounds. He's normally pretty zen but Weheheeellll, lemme tell ya, he is NOT gonna let some chicken push him around so then when she rushed him he charged her. That (previously sweet natured) chicken fought back like a fully feathered Calamity Jane and it was ON! He got ahold of a big chunk of her neck feathers but before he could pull her down all the way to the ground she beat him with her wings pretty good. He hung on and they tussled like that for a moment before the whole barnyard waddled and ran over to see the fight. The other chickens jumped into the frackus with wings beating and Big Boy was outnumbered. He pinched a couple of them when they got close enough and it was all over in 30 seconds. I had my camera but by the time I switched it on the whole thing was done except for a little post-game chest thumping (pictured above). I still don’t know who schooled who or which started the fight (I suspect the chickens tho). The Muscovy all gathered up together and did that crane and bob thing they do in solidarity, all the while trilling and huffing what I’m sure were piercing chicken slurs at the retreating hens. Now they’re out there with their duck-chests all puffed out, strolling among the chickens daring them to stick just one chicken toe across the line.
A few weeks ago I was out in the yard and noticed the ducks and geese were happily grunting and chortling and digging their little beaks around in the grass, not paying much attention to anything other than tasty bugs hiding in the greens. The geese tend to stand sentry duty around the flock while they forage and were taking turns eating grass and keeping an eye out. The chickens were busily running all over the yard in a hurry to get from one very important chicken task to the next. As one of the RIR’s was wandering her way past the ducks I noticed her do a little second take at one of the geese's backside (I could almost see the wheels turning in her malicious little chicken brain)… just as the goose bent to nibble some grass that chicken goosed him! That poor Goosey-Goose jumped 4 feet in the air and let out a big old rusty honk. The RIR just carried on like nothing had happened. I would have to say the chickens firmly believe they're running the barnyard... goosing the goose? Are you kidding me?
Another time, back when Duck Dodgers had 5 Welsh Harlequin girls all to himself (I’d just harvested the other 3 drakes), he must’ve been feeling like he was the big man on campus and his little ducky britches got a bit too big for him. I was walking across the barnyard to get from one chore to another and out of the corner of my eye I saw Duck Dodgers make an opened beak threatening gesture at one of my Muscovy girls, Queeny. I stopped to watch just to see what would happen. At first Queeny pulled her head back in surprise, then a moment later she narrowed her eyes, craned out her neck and huffed her quiet Muscovy trill at him, like, “don’t you dare talk to me like that!” Duck Dodgers held his ground so she charged him! He ran, she chased and finally when she caught him she jumped on his back, dug in those pterodactyl claws, mashing him into the dirt, grabbed the back of his neck and hit his head against the ground a few times. He managed to get away and she chased him just a second longer. When he stopped and turned around she advanced again and he boogied it on out of there while she huffed and trilled and bobbed her head at him. He went back to his girlfriends and fluffed up his feathers, then resumed leading them to grazing. He didn’t mess with the Muscovy girls after that.
The Muscovy have all been sequestered for the last 3 weeks in a smallish run while they heal from hawk wounds, but I let them out into the barnyard this weekend where they encountered the geese face to face for the first time. There’s always been a thin wall of fencing between them, but they’ve interacted many times through it without any trouble. I reckon the geese decided the Muscovy would be easy to bully and came right over to lay claim to the water dish the Muscovy were using. My two most timid Muscovy hens high tailed it
It might sound like there’s one rumble after another in the barnyard but most days all the animals just play and chortle and make their way from the grass to the pool. Once in a while I catch sight of… well… a sight. There’s no lack of entertainment around here, that’s for sure!