I have four Barred Rock hens. They have no individual names but I call them, collectively, Bugs! (the exclamation point is mandatory) Before I kept chickens, I had a pretty basic view of what they were about. Scratch and peck, lay eggs, not too bright.
Broadly, these things are true. But there’s a lot more to it. They may not be bright, but they’re devious…can you tell she’s trying to determine if the camera is edible? These birds are also pretty fierce: late last summer one of the outside cats caught a bluejay, and the hens beat up the unsuspecting feline and stole the carcass, which they promptly tore apart and consumed. They are not shy at all either. They will charge the cats or dogs and send them packing with a peck or a kick if they feel their personal space is invaded, or, apparently, if they simply feel like it. They’re also noisy as anything. The only thing I’d do different next time is look for a breed that’s known to be quieter.
But they’re hilarious. They hurry around in their fluffy bloomers, and are always getting into each others’ business. If I’d known how hilarious they are I would have started keeping them long ago.
The lesson in this for me is that rarely are individuals (human or animal) the way you expected them to be before you’ve met them. Everyone and everything is more complex than imagined. More than one lifetime is necessary to see it all.