September 2, 2011

Barnyard Sex and Violence

There’s a power struggle over violent sex at Shuddering Squirrel Aces.
I knew it might be coming, but had hoped things would work out. Chickens are chickens, however, and tend to act in predictable patterns.
Larry, looking for some
Although we haven’t yet collected our first egg, Larry the rooster is tapping all the hens, repeatedly gettin’ his freak on, while Chaz the outcast rooster has to have secret trysts.
The problem is that Chaz and Billie, our two black chicks, not only spent most of their time together while they grew, but Chaz had already claimed Billie as his own before we knew he was a rooster. This is not acceptable to Larry, who has always dominated the flock, and cast Chaz out of the chicken house. He now tends to spend the nights on top of it, a pariah. We provide his own water bowl under the deck because he’s not permitted to share the communal fountain inside the run.
All of this caused a problem for Billie. She’s sweet natured and stands on my foot while eating cracked corn out of my hand. She prefers running to walking, lowering her head, half spreading her wings, and charging from point A to point B in a frenetic, comic gait. In the last couple of weeks she’s shown a tough streak, standing up to harassment and staring it down – most of the time.
Billie, an eye on her back
A few days ago we heard a blood-curdling shriek and ruckus down among the garden beds and saw Larry facing Billie with his beak locked on the nape of her neck, twisting it awkwardly. She struggled and squawked and kicked, but Larry succeeded in turning, throwing one spurred leg over Billie’s back like a mounting broncobuster, forcing her tail into the air and having his way with her. That was over in about two seconds. Then both went back to what they’d been doing. Larry conquered Chaz’s only hen and now the flock is his. I have, however, seen Chaz try to mount Billie several times when she wanders away from Larry. He’s succeeded at least once, despite her furious resistance. She belongs to Larry now, submits without complaint, and clearly doesn’t want any more trouble.
I’ve read that roosters start mating about the same time hens start laying, but we’re still waiting.
Chaz, the cuckold
Meantime, Chaz and Our Trusty Dog Pete, the world’s friendliest German shepherd, have become pretty close companions. Pete is neutered and Chaz is a shunned cuckold. Their pairing reminds me of longtime drinking buddies with elbows on the bar, commiserating over the mysteries and cruelties of sex.
Too much anthropomorphizing? No doubt. But our animals commonly play out their stories in humanlike ways. Still, we study up on their natural behavior and understand more as each day passes. Otherwise, the drama would be hard to bear.

1 comment:

  1. Poor Billie!!! I also kinda feel bad for Chaz for being's not her fault that she's a HE!