Yesterday, both children had a friend around to play after school. Naturally, chaos ensued. The visiting children were excited, and boisterous, and fascinated by the hens. The girls did not share their enthusiasm.
I watched anxiously from the kitchen window as a noisy game of football started. With semi-hysterical cheeriness, I called for them to 'Watch the greenhouse! Its not safety glass!' and 'Mind the chooks!'. The chooks watched developments amid much chuntering. They ambled away from the marauding pack of boys and positioned themselves in the safety of the shrub border.
My children are used to the hens, and treat them with gentleness and respect. Other children tend to want to grab, to cuddle and to lug about. One of the visiting boys approached Mabel, and gave her a rather enthusiastic stroke. The startled Millefleur bok-ARKed and waddled for the safety of the coop. The other hens froze, and watched this strange miniature human cautiously. He then turned to Doris, who muttered offendedly but tolerated his gentle stroke to her comb. However, when both hands reached forwards with a definite motive to grab, she took flight and followed her illustrious leader back to the Convent.
Maeve was the next hen in the visiting childs immediate vicinity. She had watched all of the preceeding handling keenly, and now cocked her head to one side, sizing up her opponent. At this point, sensing imminent danger, I told the visiting boy that the hens don't like to be picked up, and that the small black hen was a bit grumpy. He either didn't hear me or chose to ignore my warning.
He reached forward and grabbed Maeve around the middle. She suffered this indignity silently, which was when I knew he was in trouble. Raising her to face level, he started talking to her. I flew out of the back door yelling 'Noooooooo!'. He turned towards me, removing his nose from pecking distance thankfully. Maeve used this opportunity to deliver a solid peck to his wrist. In surprise, he dropped her. Maeve calmly spread her wings, and landed heavily but safely at his feet. She then turned in a circle, and raised her hackle feathers. At this point, I thought it best to suggest ice lollies and a DVD.
The four boys then took their noise and enthusiasm inside. Slowly, the other girls emerged from the coop. Maeve strutted around the garden, bokking off and generally suggesting that you come and have a go if you think you're hard enough. The visiting child was unhurt, but decidedly more wary of the feathery footballs that did not want to make friends.
Maeve reigns supreme.