Monday, January 19, 2015

WWI, and Chickens??

We recently added a couple new hens to our backyard flock after a hawk carried off one of our girls for brunch.  Pictured below, you'll see a black and a grey hen, or at least part of a grey hen butt-- she's camera shy, I guess.  The black one we named "Opal", because she has a lovely iridescent green sheen to her black feathers, and the grey/blue hen is named "Betty" to go along with my love of naming hens after little old ladies (Betty was my Grandma).  The rest of our flock are the gold hens named "Helen," after Ryan's Grandma (they are ALL named Helen because we can't tell them apart and they're too dumb to come if we called them separately anyway), and the two crazy white leghorns, Elsa and Snowflake, thusly named because my kids managed to name them before I could intervene and give them old lady names, too.

One would imagine, as I did, that adding hens to a flock would be easy.  Just kinda throw 'em in and hope for the best, right?  What could go wrong with fluffy little dimwitted creatures whose life's ambition is to dig up worms, but would just as soon eat whatever flotsam they unearth during their constant attempts to dig holes to China? 
Ever heard of "Pecking Order?"  
Well, apparently it's the nice name for chicken gang warfare.  
Ryan and I, after picking up the two very indignant, squawking new girls and walking them back to the chicken yard, naively assumed that our old flockers might need to get used to the new ones, and so some bullying of the NEW girls would occur.  
We dropped the new girls in and dang if Opal didn't go in swinging.  First thing she did was walk her little feathered T-Rex butt over to the biggest girl in our flock and beat the ever-loving-snot out of her.  I have never seen such vicious bully behavior in my life!  She then doled out whoopins to every other flock member, save Betty, who acted every bit the part of her smaller henchman, since up to that point she had lived the first part of her stay here in a tiny cage in the garage with Opal and had already received her beatings from the grumpy, larger bird.  
It was hard to watch my girls take their lumps, but thankfully today everyone now knows their place, with Opal at the head of the flock, Betty in 2nd, and all others behind gleefully pecking away at whatever yucky things they dig up in the compost once more.  
So how on Earth, Mel, does this have anything to do with WWI??  Stay with me here, I'm getting to it...

Today for school I introduced our newest unit topic which....[drumroll please]... is WWI.  I began our exploration of the topic with a basic overview of the start of the war.  In their Cliff's Notes version introduction [here provided for those who, like me, spent my first explanation of the topic face-down and drooling on my desk in history], I explained that initially, the war began after Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian, leading ultimately to war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.  Simple, right?  Well then Germany allied itself with Austria, and Serbia allied itself with Russia, so now we have two HUGE powers involved in the skirmish.  At this point, the kids are listening pretty well, so I continued, "and then Germany declared war with France."  The kids then stopped me to ask, "Why France?"  
Unfortunately I had no answer- the part that sucks about being a homeschool Mom.  
Fortunately, between their textbook and the internet, I found the answer pretty quickly... the part that DOESN'T suck so much about being a homeschool mom, lol.  
The answer: Because they WANTED TO.  
It's that simple, but how do you explain that to an 8 year old? 
"Okay, so you know how sometimes you're just having a really crappy day and you just want to yell at everyone around you?  Or even pinch 'em because you just feel like garbage and you're mad at the world? 
"OH yeah!" Sarah exclaimed.  "Like Opal yesterday!"  
"YES!  JUST LIKE OPAL!  Kids, during WWI, all of Europe was in an Opal state of mind.  They were just looking for a fight and all the other countries were just chickens in their way toward the top of the pecking order." 
"Oh... okay Mom!"  

And that, my friends, is how having a flock of chickens has taught my children all they need to know about the geopolitical climate of WWI.  :)

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