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Rediscovering AnimalsĀ 

The Balance of Consensus and Regulation Continued

Lucy the goose and adopted daughter Bobbi think they own the Hen House. Hence, in winter I have to enforce a regulation: "Everyone sleeps in the Hen House if the nighttime low is 23 degrees F or lower. Everyone! Not just Ms. Ritz and Kiebler, the English call ducks Lucy raised; not just Gwendolyn the chicken, who hops up with turkey to roost; everyone--even the three large Khaki Campbell ducks."

They all know what to do. When freezing temps threaten, they all head for the heated Hen House and duck (literally) passed Bobbi to the back of the warm shed. No need for my waving or gesturing to make the point. Even birds prefer a warm place to sleep.

It's another example of balancing regulation with consensus, an essential in making the steady state work and establishing it in the first place. That kind of balance is common in nature, I suspect. I'll have to think about that. But I have seen it work with my motley collection of domestic birds.

Another example: Every species has raised chicks of a different species, adapting to the consensus that the young need care. Adjustments are made to accommodate size differences without complaint, but only if the timing is right. When it isn't, regulation raises its ugly head. Example: Try giving a chick to a turkey who has only set for two weeks out of the required four.

Amongst my birds, the balance is maintained, through gentle warnings and only an occasional loud argument. I have to admit that I also count heavily in the consensus, and--yes--on the regulation side too, when needed.

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