Monday, 11 July 2011

Almost, But Not Quite

In all the excitement of being hideously mauled by a tiny chicken yesterday, I forgot to tell you about my almost bravery. I have to say almost, because when push came to shove I bottled it. But, we very nearly had serama/pekin integration yesterday evening.

It's not unusual to find the serama in the palace when the hens are all free ranging. And now that Vera is without her chicks, integrating has once again become a real possibility. Why would I bother, you ask? Well, my serama girls are tiny and silkied. If we get another harsh winter I'm not entirely sure they'd be ok in their garage hutch. If I had a few more, they could huddle together and produce more heat. However, I've decided to stick to my two serama girls for now. The hutch really isn't big enough to house more ladies at this time, and my garden isn't big enough to take another palace type set up. So, it's a case of expecting the serama to spend some of the winter in the downstairs loo perched on the radiator (which would be rather off putting, apparently), or try and get them pally with the pekins. A pekin is basically a high tog duvet on legs. Despite temperatures getting down to -14c last December, my pekin girls were toasty warm.

So, I was cunning. I tempted the entire flock with some cleaned wheat, and threw it in to the palace run. The pekins waddled in and began scoffing. The serama road runnered in behind them. And then I closed the door. As the bolt shot in to place, Betsy and Vera stood upright, looked at each other, and then looked back at the closed door. Chickens don't have obvious Adams apples, but if they did I imagine I'd have seen a deep swallow in a 'Oh, crap' manner.

The pekins were too busy eating to bother with the tiny trespassers, so with characteristic stealth Betsy and Vera gingerly picked their way through the chowing hens, and then hot footed it up the ramp in to the coop. I hovered anxiously in the garden, half heartedly pruning things and weeding. About five minutes after the micro chickens had hidden inside, Hilda began ascending the ramp in to the dark house. Gulp.

Initially, there was no reaction. Perhaps she didn't see them. I have no idea whether chickens have decent night vision. However, something alerted her to the intruders and she began screeching her head off. I peeked in to the coop and saw that Vera was perched on the edge of the preferred nest box. Betsy was actually in the preferred nest box. Hilda was apoplectic, and took to shrieking her displeasure in between tearing up the newspaper floor covering.

The other hens took the bare minimum of notice at the increasingly hysterical Hilda. The serama seemed unbothered by the kerfuffle. I retreated slightly, wondering if chickenny vengeance would soon be wrought. I heard the unmistakable thump of a pekin advancing. At the last minute, the pitter patter of a serama reached my ears, and I breathed a sigh of relief. They had seen sense, and moved. A quick peek inside revealed that Betsy had seen sense. Vera was still perched on the nest box edge, and was almost eye to eye with the fluffed up, growling Hilda. The tiny hen was making herself as tall as possible and attempting to intimidate the much larger chicken. Vera has small man syndrome.

Just as I expected Hilda to eat Vera, both hens seemed to back down. Hilda stepped back uncertainly, and Vera attempted a casual stroll away from the nest box entrance. She joined Betsy on the perching block, and Hilda clambered in to the nest with her legs crossed. Peace reigned again. This seemed significant, so I left them all to it. I even left the serama in the palace while I popped out for an hour. They occasionally made forays in to the run, and were chased about a bit in a half hearted way. I seriously considered leaving them in there overnight. The only reason I didn't, was because at this time of year I have to close the coop door in order to prevent a 4am dawn chorus. I didn't fancy the teeny chooks' chances if closed up with bored, hungry pekins. So they went back to their hutch last night to sleep.

Eventually, I'm going to have to bite the bullet.

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