Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Battle Line Has Been Crossed

The serama sisters have been with us for nearly two months now. They happily live together in the two tier rabbit hutch in the garage, and venture in to the garden when they think that the pekins aren't looking. With very little encouragement on my part, they have become silly tame. Especially Vera. The tiny black hen has a bad habit of running between your feet when you're mid step. I'm not sure if this is designed chicken evilness, in an attempt to give me a heart attack, or whether she is an adrenalin junkie. Perhaps given half a chance she'd be bungee jumping from the Palace roof.

I have more or less resigned myself to having a split flock at this stage. I mean, I've always thought that my pekin ladies were petite, but next to the serama twosome they are truly enormous. The serama are understandably wary, and if they do get too close to the others a chase usually ensues. In fact, Gladys and Hilda seem to zoom out of nowhere and run Betsy and Vera back in to the furthest recesses of the garage.

Today was a big clean out day, however, and as the ever tolerant husband was throwing things with enthusiasm in to a skip, I thought it best to keep the serama contained. As the pekins roamed about the garden, the serama were safely pecking about in the Palace run. After a bit, it became apparent that Hilda and Mabel needed to lay. As I was outside anyway, I decided to open the run door and see what would happen.

Initially, Betsy and Vera sat on the perch nearest the pop hole and tried to blend in with the wood work. As our Illustrious Leader and the grubby white hen had their legs crossed, however, they didn't bat an eyelid at the intrusion and just waddled up the ramp in to the coop with barely a glance at the newbies. I expected one of the other girls to chase them out soon enough, but after twenty minutes of being totally ignored Vera went looking for trouble. She alighted on to the ramp and had the audacity to stick her head in to the inner sanctum. Instantly, two narked hens squawked at her. Yet this didn't phase her one bit. I watched in amazement as she sauntered in to the coop, only pausing to call her side kick in with her.

With both serama now in the coop, I chewed my nails fretfully. Every so often, a stroppy 'Bwaaaaaaark' issued forth from the nest boxes, but no real sounds of trouble. Unable to bear it any longer, I peeked inside the door. Unbelievably, Betsy and Vera had climbed in to the nest box between Mabel and Hilda and were chattering gently. Mabel looked suitably disgusted. She is a very private chicken, and the others usually show her the respect her position deserves by letting her lay in peace. Now not only was Hilda in the nest boxes with her, but now two pip squeaks were chatting right by her left ear. Unbelievable.

Hilda was busy laying, and only had time to hiss at me in passing.

Deciding that the hens had obviously called a truce, I left them to it. An hour later, the ever tolerant husband stuck his head in the door to tell me that ASBO Chicken had chased Betsy across the lawn and back in to the garage. I wasn't surprised. I expected that both serama would be back in their lodgings discussing the morning's events within minutes, and thought no more of it. Until a while later when I went out to hang the washing.

I could hear that Mabel was still in the nest box. This isn't unusual. Mabel really likes to make the most of her nest time and can often hog the best box for hours. However, these weren't normal 'Mabel in labour' sounds. These were more 'Naff off or I'll eat you' sounds. Curious, I opened the nest box and peered in. I saw Mabel's voluminous derriere, but that was all. The other boxes were vacant. With a frown, I secured the door and went to check on the serama. I found Betsy dust bathing happily in the wood shavings, but no sign of Vera. A quick scout about the garden proved fruitless, and with a slightly panicky feeling I considered the probability of Vera having escaped through the garage while the ever tolerant husband was filling the skip. In my mind's eye, she was road-runnering up the road as I stood there, half way to Birmingham.

Before I sent out a search party, I opened the nest boxes again and was greeted with Mabel, side on. She had shifetd herself around a bit, which gave me then a view through to the coop proper. Suddenly, a small black head popped up over the lip of the nest box. Mabel raised all of her hackle feathers and squawked. The little head dropped back out of sight. Mabel relaxed. The head reappeared, agitating my top hen all over again. No wonder Mabel had spent so long on the nest. She was being taunted by a very cheeky serama playing the chicken equivalent of 'Knock Down Ginger'. I grabbed the errant Vera from her hiding place in the coop and deposited her back with Betsy. She seemed quite happy about her little adventure, and a mere five minutes later Mabel announced her egg. With no small measure of relief, I'm betting.

This could be interesting.

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