Something has happened which could have serious implications for the flock. My top hen, Mabel, has gone broody. A broody hen is not interested in keeping order, or even her own position within the group. I suspect that Maeve will make a move any day now.
In order to try and keep the status quo, I have broody caged Mabel in the Convent's run, where she is highly visible. For now, they are all behaving themselves, but I keep finding Maeve sat next to the cage, peering in at the pancaked Mabel. She appears to be weighing up this new development, and considering her options. I think that Maude would try to defend the top hen spot, and keep it warm for Mabel, but it really depends on how long it takes to break Mabel's brood.
I think that a flock ruled by Maeve would be an unhappy flock. She has a despot manner, and benefits hugely from being disciplined by the older hens. As she matures, I'm hoping that her general pushiness will decrease, and then she might well make a marvellous boss chicken. Until then, I'll continue to desperately hope that Mabel snaps out of it quickly and gets back to squashing the others periodically.
This period of unrest has led to some fairly unpleasant behaviour from my usually gentle girls. I found a toad, minus one of it's back legs, on the lawn. Horribly, it was very much alive. I gingerly picked it up and returned it to the damp end of the border, and can only hope for the best. The hens were all busy looking innocent, but I have my suspicions.