Sometimes, when I was a little girl, the conversation around the dinner table would shift towards talk about the Los Angeles Dodgers and how they were doing that season. My grandmother, who knew nothing about sports whatsoever, pulled me aside one day when this was going on and whispered conspiratorially to me, "Schatzi, just remember this: In any large city, you're going to find troublemakers." (Apparently she thought The Dodgers were some kind of violent street gang.)
But her adage is true. In any gathering of individuals, you are going to find those who just want to cause trouble. In my hen house, this position goes to Floyd, the pigeon.
I found Floyd on the steps of our dry cleaners several years ago. He was barely two days old and freezing to death. It was the week before Thanksgiving, and I'd just stopped in to pick up Big Ag's dry cleaning.
"Hey, how long has that baby pigeon been sitting in the entry way?" I asked.
"I don't know, a couple of days I guess," replied the guy behind the counter.
"Has the mother been dropping down to feed it?"
"Uh, no, I don't think so," the guy (who really couldn't have cared less) replied.
I picked the pigeon up and took him home with me.
Since I'd done some avian rehab and release, I took care of the pigeon, who we named Floyd, until he was ready to be released. The only problem was, he was much too tame to be released by the time he was ready. He absolutely loved people, and would land on the shoulder of anyone who happened to walk in through the door. Any friend of ours was a friend of his. Or strangers, for that matter. Floyd was clearly a people pigeon.
And so Floyd stayed.
We built him a big flight cage and doted on him, and he grew into a magnificent pigeon. People who stop by to see us rarely even realize Floyd is a common domestic pigeon. He's extremely clean, smells nice, and his feathers positively gleam.
Floyd is also one of the troublemakers my bubbe tried to warn me about. Floyd loves me, but is bossy with everyone else. What Floyd really needs is a small, South American nation to run, where tyrants and demagogues are the norm.
Instead, I let Floyd run the chicken coop. Or so be believes.
Floyd wanders around the chickens all day now, cooing and puffing up his feathers and looking quite important. But when the chickens have had enough, they let Floyd know with a warning peck or two, and he flies up to the top of the coop, where we've built a railing for him to strut his stuff on.
The objects of Floyd's true affection are the silver food container and the red chicken waterer, who he puts on quite a mating display for. So far he has only tried to mount one of the hens and the waterer a couple of times, and as you can imagine neither partner really worked out for him, biologically speaking.
But I see him as kind of the Donald Trump of the henhouse, an assessment I think Floyd would be proud to take ownership in. Being so beautifully feathered, he doesn't even need the toupée.
Yes, Floyd is both troublemaker and seeker of strange pleasures in the world of the Hot Flash Henhouse, a solitary gray general amidst an army of indifferent hens and stoic food and water dispensers.