Until yesterday, I thought my urban-farm critters lived independently from one another. The horses are obviously tuned into one another, and the chickens have their own drama going amongst themselves. The dog has his little life back there, unrelated to the other animals. Or so I thought.
While outside doing my chores yesterday morning, I heard a big commotion at the chicken coop. A few members of my free-ranging flock were gathered around the coop, while others lurked inside. A lot of hollering was going on among the birds, including the characteristic pah-kuck! that indicates alarm was rampant among the birds.
As I looked in their direction trying to figure out what the ruckus was about, I noticed that the horses had stopped eating and were staring wide-eyed at the chickens. Rio in particular was most curious about what was going on in the coop, and refused to go back to his hay. He watched me intently as I walked over to the coop to see what had gotten the chickens all riled up.
When I looked inside the coop, I saw the reason for all the squawking. A lone, freshly laid egg sat shimmering in one of the nest boxes. The birds quieted down as they watched me remove the egg, and then went about their business. When Rio saw that the drama had ended, he turned back to his lunch.
Not long afterwards, Nigel, who was outside with me, began to bark at someone who was leaving a flyer at the front door. He ran to the back gate and gave his most ferocious Corgi woofs. Now it was the chickens’ turn to wonder what was going on. They all stopped what they were doing, stretched high up on their legs, and peered in the dog’s direction. A few let out what I call “the question.” It’s basically a loud squeak that clearly ends with a question mark. It’s as if the bird is saying “What???”
When the guy leaving the flyer left the front door and walked past the other end of the house on his way to the neighbor’s place, Nigel ran across the yard to bark at him from the other gate. I saw Red perk his ears up and put his head over the fence of his paddock, intently watching the dog and trying to get a handle on what was going on. The look on Red’s face was clear: “Why is Nigel barking, and should I be concerned about it?”
I guess I never thought about how the different species in my yard might view one another other. I never realized until now what an amazing little barnyard community I have.