Sunday, 20 December 2009

Chilled Chickens

The weather is bitterly cold. It hasn't got above freezing for several days, and I have to break the ice in the girls' drinker several times a day. We had a smattering of snow which has now frozen solid. The decking by the back door is like an ice rink. Every so often, a small hen goes whizzing past the glass with a confused look in her eye. Chickens do not like snow, ice or anything else which is damp and cold.

For the most part, the girls are staying inside. Margot seems the least bothered by the weather, and is often seen skidding about the garden. Maeve and Doris venture out for brief periods of foraging, but retreat to the coop after a while. Mabel and Maude are having none of it, and other than quick trips to the food and water, stay perched up high in the Convent, muttering.

Kiki, for reasons best known to herself, has decided that this cold spell is the perfect time to go broody. She sits in the nestbox, guarding her eggs, and growling if anyone gets too close. I am unceremoniously dumping her on the cold lawn a couple of times a day.

Mini is still holed up in the greenhouse. She spends a lot of time in her coop, but comes out periodically for a scratch about and dinner. I tried to encourage her to explore a bit further today, and she made a beeline for the Convent. Maude chased her and grabbed a beakful of tail feathers. It is not ideal to have the bottom hen out of the fold. Mini scarpered to the border, and sat looking miserable. I scooped her up and put her back in the greenhouse, where she wont be picked on. Feeling sorry for her, I also roped in Margot, and the two hens are now snuggled up together in the little coop. I am considering rotating the gentler hens, so that Mini is not without allies when the time comes for her to return to the main coop. Kiki and Doris should be friendly enough.

Mini's eye is looking worse by the day. The gunky stuff has now covered her eye, and appears to have blood vessels through it. I would bet money on it being a cyst. It is swollen, but doesn't appear to be causing her pain. I think that the eye is irretrievably lost, and that saddens me, but I hope that she'll adapt and have many years ahead of her.

I long for this to have a happy ending.

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