Dandelions, Bees, & Chickens

This is an admittedly weird post. Back on the 14th, when I was taking pictures of the cattle in the prep pen, I noticed a bee that was carrying around a full load in its pollen baskets. The pollen was a vibrant shade of orange and I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures.Bee with full pollen baskets I even thought the pictures were pretty amazing until I did some quick looking on the internet and found similar pictures, except those bees were caught in mid flight rather than wandering around on the dandelions like the images I captured.

Anyway, there was no real reason to post my bee pictures. I filed them on my computer and pretty much forgot about them. This evening, as I was outside moving my irrigation pipe, I notice one of our hens acting rather strangely. It looked like she had a long worm hanging out the side of her beak. I called her over to investigate and found she had a dried up Dandelion stem dangling from her beak.

She must have thought the Dandelion looked like a worm. In trying to eat it, she got it part way down her gullet and then couldn’t get it to go any further.  The Dandelion had lost all its seeds and only the withered husk remained. Every time the hen moved, the husk moved and caught her attention. She was walking around alternately trying to see what was moving across her field of vision, and trying to dislodge whatever it was that was stuck in her gullet.

My hens free-range during the daytime, and while they are tame enough to come stand by my feet, they are not eager to let me touch them.  The hen and I were pretty much at a standoff. She was distressed by the Dandelion stem but she wouldn’t let me close enough to help her out of her difficulties.

At one point the hen thrashed her head vigorously, and the free end of the Dandelion flopped up over her comb. She went  absolutely crazy! One thing I’ve learned about chickens over the years, is they don’t like to have anything come at them from above their heads. She was ducking and dodging, trying to get away from the beast that was threatening her and not having much success. I thought she was going to do herself a mischief before she finally dislodged the shriveled Dandelion stem with its withered husk.

Once the threat was dislodged from her comb, she went back to alternately shaking her head, and trying to evict the Dandelion with her feet. She finally managed to step on the Dandelion which pulled it from her gullet and she trotted off in obvious relief.

The peak of the Dandelion growth has passed, and with it the bees have largely left the yard, moving on to other flowers. With far fewer Dandelions, the chickens are at less risk of mistaking the withered stems for night crawlers. Things are settling back to normal, but I couldn’t resist telling you about the havoc the Dandelions wrought on my hapless hen.

Until next time, keep looking for the beauty in life.