Wednesday 8 March 2017

On elections and civilisation

The Dutch national elections are coming up next week, and it seems they are about one subject only: immigration. Like many western countries the population is torn into two battling factions, the ones that think that immigrants are the source of all evil, and the ones that feel that we can best fix our problems by working together. That there are more interesting, one could say urgent, matters that could be debated, like climate change, education, equal division of wealth, and global safety, is mostly ignored.

And when even a mainstream party, and our current prime minister, starts yelling ‘if you can’t behave normally, you should just piss off,’ you know the gloves are off.

(Well, he said it in Dutch, so in fact he said ‘pleur op,’ which is wishing someone pleurisy, a nasty lung disease, whilst suggesting they scram)

I’d like to discuss an example of something that in the Netherlands we call ‘inburgeren’, which uses the word ‘burger’, or civilian, and basically refers to becoming an ‘in-civilian’. Someone on the inside. I am not sure if I can also link it to another word: civilisation.

Right now, there is inburgering going on in my garden.

As you probably know chicken, like humans, have a strict pecking order. The top hen rules the roost, unless there is a male in the troop to trump her. The top chicken, hen or rooster, gets to eat first, and takes top spot on the sleeping perch. Some roosters take good care of their girls, protect them from danger, and give them choice morsels of food, but any flock of hens needs to wait and see what kind of cock they’ll get.

When we introduce new hens to our run, there is a week of bickering, the odd feather is shed, but things usually settle down quickly when a new pecking order is established. Once, a period where pythons and disease ruled the coop left poor Lucy all alone in the run. When we introduced our three young chicks Fien, Ronaldo and Daisy, I worried big Lucy would be nasty to the small newcomers, but the opposite occurred: the kids 
together bullied Lucy into submission. Later, when we had to say goodbye to roosters Ronaldo and Daisy, little Fien turned into a good-natured fat hen, that dominates the roost placidly. Pullets Roos and Cherry were accepted without much hassle. 

But when we introduced chicks Milo and Kika earlier this year, low ranking Lucy went mental. Feathers flew, and the babies hid under the hen house for weeks. Three months later, Lucy still does allow them to sleep on even the lowest perch.

This week, we introduced yet two newer babies, Nini and Scruffy. I put three bowls of food in the run, to make sure everyone would eat. I hid a small one under the hen house, to ensure the small babies could eat safely, away from Lucy’s pesky pecks. But Lucy was unstoppable. She wriggled her front under the too low ridge, scrambling her feet uncomfortably in the mud, and hitting her head on the ceiling, just to grab the babies’ food. All the while, two large bowls of identical food sat in the plain open just behind her. To Lucy, it was more important to sabotage the new babies, and teach them their place, than to make sure she had a good breakfast herself.

There is another creature settling into our garden: Mitzi the cat. After nervously hiding under cabinets for weeks, she is now tentatively roaming the garden. So far, she has killed a squirrel, and plenty of chichaks. Last week we found a single frog head on the living room floor, and today, she dragged a sizable lizard into the dining room, which she toyed around like a ball. We love our Mitzi, but can imagine some creatures don’t.

You are probably thinking whether there is a point to what I am telling you. After all, this is all perfectly natural (normal) behaviour for animals. Is there a moral to the story? I guess the question I want to ask you is: Aren’t we humans supposed to be better than chickens and cats? More civilised. Or at least more civil? 

While you ponder on that question, I’m going to piss off.
Oh no, I did that already, years ago. I guess being normal never was my thing.

1 comment:

  1. Seems like you had quite a time there and I think that the kids are really enjoying themselves there. Hopefully I will also come there with my family and spend some time there.