Sunday, 21 June 2009

Handbags At Dawn

All hell appears to have broken loose amongst the flock. I'm not sure if Maeve's adolescence has caused the unrest, but I certainly hope that it settles down soon. Doris and Belinda have fallen out, big time.

Both hens were in the nest box, and I could hear a bit of squawking. This isn't unusual, and is generally just a matter of one girl moving up a bit so that the other can wedge herself into the preferred nest. I returned to watering the greenhouse. The squawking reached a crescendo, and suddenly Belinda came running down the ramp from the coop, muttered and shook her head a bit, and then ran back in. Again, this wouldn't be that unusual, as Lindy loathes laying eggs, and often legs it if she thinks she can escape from her duty. This 'in and out' series of events was played out a couple of times more, with Belinda becoming more and more agitated. With a desperate effort, she flew up on top of the coop, presumably so that she could abseil down the other side and surprise Doris into giving up the nest. It was at this point that my eldest son noticed that Lindy was bleeding. A lot.

I rushed over to the frantic hen and picked her up. Lindy's comb was literally running with blood, and she was keeping her eyes shut. The ever tolerant husband bounded up the stairs to fetch a towel to wrap the shocked bird into, so that I could begin to examine her. With a cloth and some cold water, I set about trying to clean her up. Belinda stayed perfectly still, and I was relieved to see her open her eyes. The main injury seemed to be to the base of her comb, where some of the flesh was missing. She also had multiple cuts and scrapes along her face.

The ever tolerant husband fed her a couple of raisins, which she scoffed greedily. We breathed a collective sigh of relief. A greedy chicken is a basically ok chicken. Digging out the gentian violet, we managed to dab it on to her injuries. Now that we knew she was alright, our thoughts turned to her (usually) best chook pal, Doris.

Doris was still in the nest box, Belinda's blood across her beak. There were also blood splatters in the coop. Firmly, the youngest son grasped her and dumped her on the floor. Belinda is his chicken, and he was taking it personally. I fetched the broody cage, and deposited a disgruntled Doris into it. Belinda was then free to lay her egg in peace, which she managed in record time. I then released Doris, so that she could lay her egg.

Belinda by this time was mooching about the garden, happily munching stray aphids and scratching at the lawn. All of a sudden, a demented Maeve leaped from the shrubbery with a war cry and a battle of epic proportions commenced. Maeve is obviously unhappy with her positioning in the pecking order, and decided to try and take out Lindy. Neither bird would submit, and the feathers were starting to fly. I waded in, with cries of 'Leave it out! She's just not worth it!' etc, and they reluctantly retreated to their own corners. Five minutes later, they were at it again.

Change is afoot.

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