Chickens love watermelon rind.
They eat it down to the outer green shell.
I’ve seen fights break out over one small chunk with barely a trace of fruit left on it.
They love it.
So when I tossed pieces of rind from an entire melon into the playpen…the Old Ladies went a little nuts.
I stood back and waited to see if the New Gals would join in the fray.
They peaked out the coop door and ever so slowly, started down the ramp.
One made it all the way into the pen and then hightailed it to the back corner, hoping to go undetected. The Old Ladies were so busy gorging on their treat that they didn’t even notice.
That is, until she got brave enough to venture a peck at the rind.
By the time they were finished punishing her for daring to dine with them, she was cowering on the ramp–both from embarrassment and fear.
Thinking they had successfully beaten the usurpers, the Old Ladies went back to their feast.
Then, something miraculous happened.
The one I’ve named Elinor stepped out of the coop.
She looked at me as if to reassure me that all would be well.
Cautiously, she creaped down the ramp.
I held my breath, waiting for the inevitable to happen.
When she made it all the way down, she stood with her head held high and her beady eyes fierce.
At first, only one of the Old Ladies noticed her standing there. She squawked at the others, alerting them to the usurper’s presence.
All six birds raised their heads and stared at her with disdain. Who was this young upstart who dared challenge them?
But Elinor, brave and courageous Elinor, stood her ground.
After what seemed like an eternity, the staredown abruptly ended and the Old Ladies continued devouring the rind. Elinor took a few cautious steps and managed to get a piece for herself.
Being a generous gal, Elinor pulled the small morsel back into the coop to share with her sisters.
As I walked back to the house, I felt the blossom of a small kernel of hope. True, there was still a long way to go for all 15 birds to get along, but the Old Ladies were on their way the from hostility to indifference.
A truce, it seems, has developed.