Sunday, May 06, 2012

Victoria Connelly -One Thing I've Learnt

Victoria and Dolly Clare

Last year, we rescued four ex-battery chickens and I soon learned that the term “pecking order” is a very real phenomenon and it can be painful to see it in action.  In short, it’s how the flock establishes its hierarchy – with beaks! 

Dotty the hen soon took top position with poor little Dolly bringing up the rear.  But the worst-behaved hen – the hen with the most vicious beak - was the one placed in penultimate position.  For a while, this position belonged to Alice.  She would take a hammering from the two hens above her – Dotty and Minnie – and would then pass it on to Dolly.  Dolly was the only one below her – the one hen she could dominate – and she took all her frustration out on her.

Sadly, Dolly was the first hen we lost and so Alice is now the bottom of the pecking order and it’s Minnie’s turn to be the penultimate bird and, sure enough, she passes on all the grief she gets from Dotty onto poor Alice.

In April, we added three more hens to our flock so the pecking order will no doubt shift and perhaps some other hen will take its turn at the bottom of the pile.

Latest book: The Runaway Actress, HarperCollins – a romantic comedy about a movie star who swaps Hollywood for the Highlands.


D.J. Kirkby said...

Oh I remember this all too well from the chickens we had when I was a child. What sticks out the most for me about them all is how inquisitive they were, and how they would follow me around the yard burbling away to themselves, and to me.

liz fenwick said...

Victoria - thanks for explaining 'pecking' order!

DJ -As i sit here in Cornwall, I would love to have chickens...but I do wonder the cats would cope!


Helen said...

Brilliant, Victoria. We are hoping to get chickens when we move to our new house and I've been looking at rescuing some from the British Hen Welfare Trust. It's a fantastic idea.

KarenG said...

Interesting how these old expressions got started. Your new book sounds very good! I'll add it to my to-read list.

Victoria Connelly said...

D J Kirkby - I love how inquisitive hens are - our are always trying to get into the house (and Dotty frequently manages it!)

Liz - Ah, go on! Get a few hens!

Helen - The BHWT is brilliant - giving wonderful retirements to these adorable creatures.

Karen - hope you enjoy it - The Runaway Actress was so much fun to write.