Funny Things, Animals

 I read an interesting article, by Graham Phillips in the Sunday Telegraph, that well known scientific journal, about an English scientist who conducted a series of experiments with poultry.

 She wanted to find out if they preferred to live in wire cages or scratch about in the dust and dirt and grit.

I was immediately fascinated by the work of Dr. Marian Dawkins from Oxford University but, to a degree, I was disappointed as well. If I had had the chance to talk with her I could have saved her so much time and effort.

I have always been a keen observer and student of animals and their antics. Especially chooks.
It may not be a fact that is widely known but I knew that chooks and cages went together like bees and honey. Ants and sugar. Blowflies and dead fish. Show chooks a cage and they lose all control. They can't resist them.

You try it! You put a big enough cage out in the front garden and before you can turn around you'll find a chook in it. Sitting up there with the enigmatic, Mona Lisa expression on it's face that a chook has when it is pleased with itself.

It doesn't matter what variety you are talking about. White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds or Black Orpingtons, they all have this thing about being imprisoned.

To conjure up an image of a pilloried pullet or a bantam in bondage may be difficult for some, but I know that this behaviour is the result of a deep seated need in every bird brain to be trapped in a confined space. They lust to be locked up.

I tried an experiment of my own once. I got a cage and fastened the door shut with a twist of wire. Secure. I put the empty cage in the yard and left it there. When I came home from the pictures a couple of hours later, guess what? You bet! There was a chook in it. A Houdini hen perched there as proud as a peacock with an almost sneering attitude of contempt in the way it held it's head at an angle, as if to say, "There's not a cage built that can hold me out!"

But I wouldn't expect Doctor Marian over there in Oxford to know a whole lot about chooks. You don't often find poultry running around in ivory towers. Not that the rarefied atmosphere of academia frightens them, you understand. Only you wouldn't find too many cages there so there's not the attraction for chooks. You see?

I could have told her about horses, too.

There's nothing horses like better than have people jump on their backs and hit them with a stick. They will run around for ages whinnying and neighing with the pleasure of it all. You go past a yard full of horses and you had better watch your step. Get too close and next minute you'll find yourself hauled into the air onto a horse's back. You'll find yourself saying things like, "Giddyup!" and "Kiyi yippee yippee, oh!" as you bounce around the paddock completely at the mercy of an animal having it's wilful way with you.

And it doesn't respect you afterwards, either!

Now, cows are different.

Apart from a fondness for having their udders washed on a cold winter's morning and a vacuum machine suck out their body fluids, most of the time cows just like to stand around under trees with a blank look in their eyes and dribble out the corner of their mouths. They're almost human, really.
Cows and horses are a different kettle of fish.

I wish I hadn't mentioned fish. I'm uncomfortable about fish. I think there is something off about them. I mean, your average fish has the whole world open to it. It can swim the beauty spots of the oceans. It can winter in Hawaii and summer in the South Pacific and have the pick of food. Oysters off the rocks and shrimp sushi. All sorts of delicacies. But fish would rather hang out around sewerage outfalls and swim in effluent. And they have a choice.

No, I'm worried about fish.

You take a rod and reel out on the river for a nice relaxing day and try and drown a prawn or see how long it takes a hook to rust. The warming sun beats down and the waves slap hypnotically against the side of the boat as you drift along in a reverie. Then, all of a sudden, the peace is shattered.
Some manic-depressive bream, in a suicidal fit, has hurled itself at your line and been impaled on the hook. Released from it's agony, and placed gently on the bottom of the boat, it flips and flops about in paroxysms of delight.

Well, it's almost perverted!

No, I'm really sorry I couldn't have talked with the Doctor about animals and their habits. They really are funny in a way. A bit like humans. A bit chooky. The funny things they get up to at times.

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