To borrow a phrase from one of our favorite PBS children's shows, 'Between The Lions'.
is improving, and has graduated from full-time Housechicken to
part-time backyard flock member--she still comes indoors at night.
hops/limps with loud 'thud's around the kitchen in the evening and
still sits a lot, but is definitely on the mend. We are pretty sure it
was a fracture in her hip or thigh, and the only thing to do is allow
her to heal unmolested--hence the custom hen condo that J. whipped
together last weekend. This keeps her safely isolated from overzealous
roosters and jealous hens who might reinjure her.
Sigh...isn't this leg EVER going to get better?
figure another week or so of this nonsense and we'll be able to
reintegrate her into the flock, which will involve some intervention on
our part with any of the hens that decide they want to pick a fight with
her and knock her down a peg or two in the pecking order.
a whole 'nother story though--chickens have a rigid sense of
caste--their flock's pecking order. Who is Head Hen and Head Roo, who
is Beta, and so on down the line. Older laying hens are usually at the
top, followed by younger laying hens and bantams, then at the bottom are
newcomers and youngsters. Whenever we introduce new birds to our flock
we hold what we call 'Meet & Greets'. That is where we bring the
new bird out into the yard and set it down on the ground, right at our
feet. The other chickens will come around and trash talk at the new
bird and once in a while puff themselves up and try to peck the new
bird. That's when we step in and growl threateningly at them and chase
them off a bit, just like a mother hen would protect her chicks. We
are, in essence, letting them know that 'This is MY baby, and under MY
protection!' and we have a zero tolerance policy towards pecking them.
Since we humans are the head of the flock, the other flock members
usually catch on pretty quick that our 'baby' is not to be messed with
and retreat, grumbling disgustedly. We've found if we do this for about
20 minutes for a couple of days, we can then release the new birds into
the flock for good with far less butt kicking and chicken-y angst.
Chickens have amazingly complex emotions, which in turn often leads to soap opera-like Chicken Drama.