I have been secretly dreading this moment for weeks. Yesterday, while cleaning out the coop, I came across a single black feather. A jet black wing feather. I lifted it up, and a shiver ran down my spine. Maeve is in moult.
Maeve was hatched in January 2009, so last winter she didn't moult. I watched her all year, expecting a mini moult at some point, but it never came. The amazing ASBO Chicken has always been an unpredicatble lady, but I don't imagine that she will take this well. I can't say I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. This morning, there are a few bits of black fluff blowing about the lawn, and her magnificent tail is looking a bit skewiff. She came down for her breakfast as usual, but growled at the other hens face deep in the feeder. As one, they backed away. Even Mabel. No one wants to tangle with a grumpy Maeve.
To try and combat her filthy mood, I have added ACV to the water and a top dressing of poultry spice to their feed. She watched me do this from a pot on the patio, where she was attempting to dig up a clematis. Purely for the destructive fun of it. Apparently, her moult has not yet reached her foot feathers.
Every so often, I hear a demented shriek from the back garden. Maeve has decided that their should be an exclusion zone around her, and if any poor unsuspecting flock mate wanders too close, they get earache. The rest of the flock have had a few muttering meetings on the lawn, always keeping one eye on the glowering ninja in the shrubbery. The consensus seems to be that it would be best to leave her be. I think it's a wise decision.
I had some apples that were past their best, and took them outside for the girls. As the majority scoffed with abandon, Maeve stayed huddled in her dust bath. I approached with caution with half a granny Smith as a peace offering. The closer I got, the bigger Maeve grew. This ability to slowly raise and lower her hackles is quite impressive (always reminds me of that dinosaur in 'Jarassic Park'). Once the apple was within pecking range, I gently placed it on the ground and backed off. She eyeballed me the whole time, beak slightly open.
Once I had retreated to a safe distance, she investigated the treat. Obviously deciding it was wanting, she stood up, turned around and kicked mud all over it.
I predict a riot.