the top chook

my father has new hens
four of them
still young and not yet layers
though they will be soon

the plan
is to let these young ones get established
before gradually replacing the older ones
a feed of chicken soup
the old fashioned way

in the meantime the pullets
have to integrate with the boilers
and the established group
each have a claim to supremacy
in the Pecking Order

the brown one
the white and then the red
but especially the grey
are quick and literal
savage in the ferocity of their bullying
as order is imposed

when I venture close
to inspect the recent arrivals
the grey pops her head around a corner
to keep an eye on what transpires
and to ensure no advantage
that’s NO advantage
benefits the newcomers

my father enters the chook run
to encourage the shy young hens
out of the shelter and into the yard
he says they have a tendency to hide

the grey immediately squeezes through
a small gap in the fence
and stalks the enclosure
applying a little peck here
and a little peck there
to remind the recent arrivals
of their proper places

but there is an interruption
in mid-strike

my father has removed his hat
and with a deft flick
directed it to clump down
at the feet of the grey
who desists immediately
shocked into watchfulness

a hissed shoosh shoosh
then a sharp handclap
and it’s all over
the proper pecking order
has been re-established

the new birds are secure
for a-while
and my father
as he leaves the enclosure
is wearing an amused smirk

© Frank Prem 2010, 2016


6 thoughts on “the top chook

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