True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


What are some important leadership qualities ?

Here's Pigeon, the leader of the flock, the day I met her.

Upside down.  

Skinny, bloody...  far from healthy.  
(click here to read more about Pigeon's beginnings)

After a few weeks of tender rehab, she did seem much healthier.  
She joined the flock and slipped herself right into the lead position vacated by our dear-departed-Hatsy.

But Pigeon, our new little leader, followed Lucy around like a puppy.
As it turns out, Pigeon is extremely nearsighted.  

In fact, she's darn near blind.

This explains why she's always underfoot. 
I've nearly stepped on her several times, 
and have to be careful not to chop off her little head 
when I'm working in the garden.
I offer her a tomato, and she pecks to the left of it.

Even when I toss her a wiggling worm, 
she has a tough time finding it... 
she's pecking to the left again.

...but that's okay.  
There's still Bravery and Smarts, right?

O.K.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

At the beginning, Pigeon was afraid of everything. 
She was afraid of worms. 
She was afraid of the sky.

She's still scared of Marky, but  tries not to show it.

So.  Maybe health and bravery aren't that important after all.

As for. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  

Well, she's not the brightest bulb in the coop.
She's got a pretty average little pea-brain beneath that comb.  
I'd rank Daisy and Lucy as the smartest gals...

But hey, we've known leaders who have made it to the top despite even catastrophic stupidity.

So what is Pigeon's strength?

In a chicken?
She shows it in so many ways.

She is very considerate of Lucy's challenges.

Lucy's an older lady who's had some really tough times.  And this year Lucy chose to molt in January....not the best time to be half-naked in New England.
So Pigeon stands beside her and keeps her warm while they nap.

And from her very first encounter with little Fern and Daisy, Pigeon has shown only kindness.

Here she stands near them and preens -- which, in chicken-talk, means "hi there- I'm not going to kill you"... of course, the chicks don't understand that yet. They're cowering in the corner, awaiting a painful death. 

But there's one particular moment of sensitivity that really struck me.....
It was last Fall.
I was offering a piece of clover to Pigeon and the little ones.
Pigeon looked up and saw Lil'White running toward the babies in order to murder them.  
While Pigeon had nothing to fear, she knew that the babies did.
She warned them of impending doom, and little Fern and Daisy fled to the forsythia in the nick of time.

It was a simple gesture.
But a true gesture of compassion.
I haven't seen sensitivity like that among dogs, or cats.... 
or in hundreds of hours of nature shows.     
But here it is -- in Pigeon.

Pigeon, honey, you rock.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Now, I don't know whether it's compassion or curiosity or trust --
but Pigeon tends to be the favorite of all the kids who come to visit.
And that's a story for the next post!
.....Next post:     Chicken Socks


  1. Pigeon - my hero - love her. Thanks!

  2. I love the photo of Pigeon with Markie in the background....ominous.... hilarious!

  3. What a sweet heart! :) I really wish you'd post more often. I just love your stories and pictures.

  4. Connie says:
    Yes I like that photo with Marky too. I hope I have interesting birds when they arrive.

  5. ha ha ha love the glasses pic,lol

  6. Chickens are smarter even than Dolphins but Dolphins are the ones that have all the scientist fawning over them.

  7. It's funny how the chickens develop their own personalities.. I look forward to your posts and artwork! Another great story :)

  8. What a sweetheart!

    A compassionate chicken...
    who'd a thunk?

    Looking forward to seeing Pigeon with the kids.

  9. Hello Lauren!
    Well...I sat down here to read your latest post and over an hour later I was STILL reading your posts and I'm not finished yet! I just LOVE your chicken adventures. You had me hooked the very first post I read of yours...about the little mouse who fell from your ceiling above the stove. That was a true tear jerker for me. Anyway...I just wanted to tell you how much I love your writing.. photo's and drawings...your my 'happy place' blog! Hope you and yours have a wonderful day.
    Maura :)

  10. I love your stories and pics. You have a way with words and ideas. Please post more often, if possible. :)

  11. The heart always skips a beat upon the sight of a new post! : )

  12. Well Lauren, You've done it again! Another wonderful post. Pigeon is awesome, Barred Rocks are by far my favorite breed. I have 2 also, Flutter and Oprah. I love the way they talk to you like no other breed. It's so funny, I was watching the video and I was thinking, "don't worry little ones, if she's preening herself that means she's not going to attack." Then I read below and you said the same thing. Isn't it nice we both speak chicken. I look so forward to your post, they make my day!
    talk to you soon,

  13. Now you've gone and got me crying. I wuv Pidgeon!

  14. Compassionate Pigeon!! She is the greatest! I'm digging up a whole bunch of extra (organic) grubs in the Spring for her! Wonderful post, Lauren!

  15. What a sweet girl! Just like in everyday life there are people who are just so kind that they stand out. How happy Pigeon must be to have a care taker who sees her strenghts and appreciates them.

  16. Lauren I absolutely, positively ADORE your blog. The passion for your animals comes through 100 percent. LOVE IT!! I came here from Rural Revival and am so happy I did. Can't wait to read more.

  17. I came here from Garden Rant and am SO happy I found your blog. I am trying to go slowly and savor all of your posts - but it is so hard to keep from tearing through. I find your drawings delightful and laughter-provoking. My daughter (12) is hooked too!

  18. Thank you for bringing compassion into my day. My dear friend and next door neighbor got 6 chickens last April, and I fondly call them "the Girls," delighting in their new to us chicken-ness: personalities, emotions, and well, character. Your blog tells it all Thank you and keep writing, please!

  19. I'm so grateful that my friend Judy introduced us to your awesome blog! How talented and inspired you are - and in so many ways. We have a few young hens also and plan to stay tuned...
    : )

  20. found you through Garden Rant. thanks for the smile :)

  21. Helen (first post above) told me about your blog when see saw my "chicken" post for illustration friday.
    I'm so glad I stopped by!!! Your blog is fun, funny, and sweet. The gestures in your illustrations tell a lot about the feelings and personalities of your chickens. They're great!! And I learned a few things about chicken behavior, too. :)

  22. Hi Lauren,

    It's so nice to discover your blog. I love your stories about the girls. More people should realize that chickens are quite entertaining little creatures.

    I love the way you write. I've been laughing with each post!