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Another Day in the Country

3rd time’s a charm

© Another Day in the Country

Everyone who knows chickens knows that as a species they don’t do well alone. If you have one chicken, you have a lonely, frantic chicken because they need a flock — even if the flock is two or three. Chickens are not solitary birds. 

After attempting to relocate Helloise, along with Elizabeth the Queen, into the Big Chicken House — which I’ve already admitted did not go well, I’m smack in the middle of a dilemma.

Do I quickly cover the 10’ high chicken run completely with wire and dump Helloise back into the mix with hell to pay? I can’t leave her in the little house alone.

Or shall I bring Elizabeth back over and just let the two of them live in peace? Maybe while I’m moving hens around I could rescue Trixie and Dixie and bring them over to a smaller, more peaceful environment with a sister Top Knot — although there’s no guarantee Helloise will be gracious.

I decided on the latter, so late at night, after everyone was asleep, I went over to the Big House and gathered up hens. First trip was Trixie and Dixie, who squawked at first but then settled down in my arms as we walked back in the dark, stepping carefully, shining my flashlight beam along the path that leads to the little chicken coop in the backyard.

As we walked, I talked to them.

“I’m sorry girls,” I said. “I can tell life has been rough for you lately.”

I mean, Trixie is minus all of her beautiful feathered headdress, plucked bare!

“I know this is scary,” I reassured them. “But hopefully this will be a more peaceful home.”

I snuggled them each into a nest box for the night and went back for Elizabeth.

This all was more freeway traffic than my yard has ever seen in the dark of night.

Back at the Big Hen House, there was a hen that looked like Elizabeth sitting on top of the half-door that goes into the chicken house.

“Elizabeth?” I asked, picking her up quickly.

I thought it was her. No one usually roosts there; but then I wasn’t sure. Many of these Easter egg hens look alike with just variations on the brown color scheme.

I tucked her under my arm, secured the house and headed back across the road, making our way to the little chicken coop. When we got there, I put her up on the highest roosting spot how she always liked.

The hen was upset and unsure of her footing but she stayed put.

“Was this really Elizabeth the Queen?” I wondered “What if I rescued the wrong hen?” 

I’m still asking myself that question. The only way that I’ll know for sure is to check in the dark of night and see if she’s roosting up high in her familiar place. Meanwhile I may have “returned” the wrong bird, leaving the rightful queen to fend with the masses.

The Black Hens Supremacy Group at the Big House still was on high alert. Their law and their order is the name of the game. It’s not a democracy, that’s for sure. 

The good news is that things are very peaceful in the small house. Nobody is fussing. Trixie and Dixie think they’ve pretty much died and gone to heaven. No one is bossing or chasing them away from food. Helloise seems resigned to her new roommates. 

“They’re a raggedy looking lot,” she said to me when I brought treats, with a toss of her elegant head feathers in their direction.

I agreed.

That night I made another midnight foray to choose yet another hen that looked like Elizabeth.

“You’d better be the queen,” I said to her as we made our journey.

She wasn’t! No high perch roosting for her, either.

“Third time’s the charm,” I said to my sister as I headed over to the Big House to gather eggs. “If I don’t get the right hen, tonight, I’m leaving Elizabeth to fend for herself.”

I’ll assume she has integrated.

That evening, after the latest delivery, trouble was brewing in the once peaceable kingdom in my yard. I now had brought five hens over to live with Helloise and she was rather indignant.

When I came to shut them in after dark, all four immigrant hens were sitting outside in the chicken pen, on the ground, trying to sleep. Evidently, I had finally found the queen and she wasn’t about to let the newbies back into her kingdom.

I opened the chicken coop door and looked inside. There she was with Helloise on the same rafter high up in the peak of the roof, craning her neck down to watch for any foreigners attempting to cross the border.

“Be nice,” I warned Elizabeth. “Or you’re going back to live with the Australorps.” 

I coaxed the refugee hens into the coop and then quarantined the lot inside the next couple of days, while they settled their differences — my recipe for peace.

A week or two goes by quickly. Trixie and Dixie are growing head feathers again and the queen seems resigned to her new court, on another day in the country.

Last modified Dec. 9, 2020

 

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