She didn’t mean to. Chickens are ruled entirely by instinct. They don’t mean to do anything. I can tell they have no idea why they do some of the things they do. Abigail will sometimes, for no reason, launch herself into the air and fly around awkwardly, squawking the whole time, and I know she must be thinking, “Why on earth am I flying around like this?” All the other birds immediately follow suit, and I know they must be thinking, “Well, I don’t know why we’re doing this, but Abigail must have had some sort of plan.”
When they were chicks, they used to sit up on our shoulders and try to peck at our teeth. A chicken just has to pick at a bright shiny object, or any kind of dot or speck. They just do. But even then, when they were roughly the size of marshmallow Peeps and about as dangerous, we knew better than to encourage this behavior.
But today Eleanor jumped up on the chair where I was sitting in the backyard, which is kind of unusual for her. She’s usually a bit stand-offish, but I’m trying to encourage her to come up to me and get a treat. So it was really nice that she jumped right up and kind of peered into my face, like she was trying to remember, in her little hen-brain, whether she might have ever met me before.
So I started talking to her, telling her what a sweet bird she was and how I was sorry I didn’t have any chicken scratch for her, and just then she saw a flash of teeth and she went for it. Got my lip instead. It must have looked quite funny because Scott just laughed and laughed, a decision he has since come to regret. She actually did draw blood, enough to make me run inside and go put some ice on it.
My lip is fine, of course, and we have since made up (Eleanor and I, that is), but I must remember that when she comes up to me and peers intently into my face, she is not, in fact, getting ready to say something heartfelt and tender. Instead, she’s just looking for something to eat. I can respect that.