There is never a perfect time to introduce new birds to a flock, but after a bit of experience you learn to judge it about right. As the sun was shining this morning, and the non-broody hens were all busy sunbathing in the border, I thought today was a good day to let Winnie and Flo get better acquainted with them. It has been eye opening.
I expected the other hens to take it in turns to chase the new underlings, and initially this is what happened. However, instead of running away in terror, the newbies stayed in a defensive 'bum to tail' formation, and wielded off any serious attack. If they were separated from their 'gemini' position, they hid under their assailant. This caused huge amounts of confusion as the pecky hen looked about in astonishment, sometimes turning in a circle, while the vanished victim scuttled about under their ample bosom. Winnie pulled this trick on ASBO Chicken several times before she twigged. I like to think that I saw a look of respect in her eye as she let Winnie run back to her accomplice.
After these early shenanigans, the other hens pretty much ignored the babies. They did have the temerity to sunbathe in Maeve's favourite spot at one point, so she almost playfully pecked their bums until they shifted slightly to the left. She then assumed her sun worshipping position and closed her eyes. I have never known Maeve to allow another chicken to sun worship next to her, so this was surprising. What happened next has literally never happened before. Flo crept towards the snoozing ASBO and pecked her square between the eyes. Maeve squawked in shock and leapt to her feet, eyeballing the smaller pullet. This was a Mexican standoff of epic proportions only broken by the arrival of raisins. I couldn't handle the tension.
As well as taking on the scariest chicken who has ever lived, the fluffy twosome decided to invade the Palace. A distinctly narky Hilda chased them out several times, but as soon as she turned her back they were back in the run, happily dust bathing in the aubiose and scoffing the big girls' pellets.
There may be trouble ahead.