Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chick(en) Cliques

I could never be a scientist. I am far too likely to anthropomorphize animal behavior.

Take our small flock of chickens for example. There are seven of them. Helen and Ellen are the mature gals. They are the soul remainders of our first set of hens. If you know chickens, one is a Dominecker and one is a Barred Rock. They don't care about their color differences though. They are friends, through and through. They've shared the loss of their rooster and their friends to some wily fox or coyote. They're like wise forty-somethings who 've lost the taste for cattiness and gossip. All they care about is a good worm and laying a big egg.

The other five we refer to as the brown hens. For chicken folks, these girls are Rhode Island Red/Buff Orphington crosses. I've been watching these upstarts a lot lately. They've grown out of their gangly pullet stage and have come into their own as young "women". The girls who look more like Reds are the "mean girls", the ones who look more like Buffs are the "peacemakers". They split upon party lines here, two and two.

Then there's Little Brown Hen. She likes people. She'll let you pick her up and cradle her. If you're outside she'll seek you out. If you're inside she'll seek you out. The cats, dogs, and horses don't scare her. She's her own chicken and wise in the ways of interspecies communication. In human terms, she'd be the "Art Chick" and here's the picture to prove it.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, a lot. Whether you're writing about humans or animals, behavior is behavior. And no, humans don't typically scratch through large heaps of horse manure to find bot fly eggs, but there's plenty of other chicken behavior that mirrors our own. My current shiny new middle grade WIP actually has humans for characters. Thirteen year old female humans to be exact. I think Little Brown Hen and the four other Browns can teach me a lot as I start to write to school scenes.

I just need to make sure I don't have my human girls start clucking and scratching in the dirt.

1 comment:

  1. Or, scratching each other?

    Leave the clucking to the old hens.


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