Chickens, I am discovering, are trouble.
About a month ago I got two white hens, Ruby and Ester, and for all their delightful qualities, including bug eradication and spreading organic fertilizer, I was only getting one egg a day from the two of them, which is not enough for the Boy and I. So, Saturday I (foolishly) acquired another chicken, a very sweet little black Bantam hen. To quote my son: oy vey. Ruby and Ester, resentful of this sudden interloper, insisted on ganging up on the little Banty hen with more savage persistence than I ever could have imagined.
I managed to get the little hen back into her plastic pet carrier, and hoped that having her in the chicken yard, protected by the carrier, would allow she and the other hens to work out their differences (I am such and idealistic pacifist!)
I had had great plans for Sunday, hoping to catch up on a long list of neglected chores and projects. Instead I spent the day intervening on the Chicken Civil War in my back yard.
In the morning, when I let her out of the carrier, there was a brief cease fire, after which the attacks resumed. I tried having both Ruby and Ester in the carrier (effective in preventing attacks, but rather inhumane), I tried having Ester, who appeared to be the “Ring Leader” in the carrier and letting Ruby and the Banty get to know each other one-on-one. This appeared effective at first, but after a short time Ruby took up the campaign against the Banty. I considered several recipes featuring chicken.
I had been considering setting up a "chicken tractor" click to see example to help in preparing some garden beds, and this seemed like a really good time to have a second chicken area. So I hastily put one together at the North edge of the garden, where I hope to add one more bed ("just one more", thats what I say each time). Once it was ready, I brought the carrier over and put Ester in, then went to get Ruby out of the chicken yard and away from the Banty.
When I went to put Ruby in, Ester got out.
For the uninitiated out there, catching a chicken is no small matter, even in an enclosed area. They move very fast, can fly, and have a tendency to hurl themselves at your head when you try to corner them. The Boy and I do alright herding then around the garden each afternoon during their daily constitutional, but in that case we arnt actually trying to catch them, we're just keeping them off the new starts while they hunt bugs, then herding them back into the chicken yard. Catching a hen in the fully enclosed chicken yard is one thing, catching one that is loose in the yard is quite another. It usually requires two or three people. My son was at his dad's house, so I was on my own.
I did finally managed it, hours later, using ingenuity that would have put McGiver to shame.
So, my Sunday was completely shot, and now, after all that trauma, none of the hens are laying, we are all grumpy, and I have a new found sympathy for Mrs. Tweety's character in Chicken Run. grr