Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along?

By way of introduction, these 2 young ladies are Peggy and Scarlett.  Scarlett is the black Australorp and Peggy is the tan and black Ameracuana.  I got them in late March at Country Feed and Garden in Gambrills, MD when they were only 3 or 4 days old, which makes them 5 months old now.  Who can resist baby chicks; aren't they just the sweetest thing ever?!

I'm pretty sure these are the last 2 chickens I'll be getting for a while, but who knows.  I can never really be trusted that way since I'm just a sucker for tiny little balls of fluff that peep. But at least I admit I can't be trusted in that way...well, that and leaving me alone with the last piece of cake, either. 

In any event, although I love them both, Peggy has a special place in my heart because she appears to be blind in her left eye and I just feel so protective of her.  A day or so after I brought her home and had them all set up in the brooder, I noticed that she kept bumping into everything. Then I noticed a little white clouding over her left eye.  Poor little girl.  She's such a sweet, gentle soul, too.  When I pick her up she'll just sit on my lap in a lawn chair in the backyard and just takes it all in. I chat with her about this and that because she's such a good listener and she never fusses or squirms to get away.  After a while I sometimes catch her with her eyes closed (guess all my rambling has put her to sleep), until, that is, Scarlett gets jealous and then flies up to sit on my lap for her own "mommy & me" time.  Of course the difference between the 2 of them is that Scarlett doesn't want to sit still and be a good girl. In fact, she really doesn't want to be up there at all. She just doesn't like all the attention that Peggy's getting.  Brat!  Aside from that tho, I've got a little issue that I have to deal with.  For some reason, my older girls have not accepted Peggy and Scarlett into the flock - at all.  Over the last couple of months I've been slowly trying to integrate the new girls into the flock with everybody else, but they're just not having it and are especially mean - no, make that, VICIOUS to Peggy and I think it has something to do with her disability.  About 3 weeks ago I had them all out ranging in the backyard so they'd get to know each other while I was in the side yard involved in the endless chore of weeding the flower garden. I wasn't too far away from all of them and hadn't been out there that long when all of a sudden, I hear these horrible cries and shrieks and it was obvious that the girls were involved in an altercation of some sort. Now they do have spats among themselves but I let them work it out, and they do - but this sounded out of the ordinary.  So I tear off for the backyard to find that my normally sweet, gentle, "butter-wouldn't melt-in-their-mouth" chickens have my little Peggy pinned to a corner of the fence and are taking turns jumping on her and pecking her every which way they can. It was awful! At first I was terrified, but then I got so mad that they were ganging up on this defenseless, half-blind little girl who couldn't even fend for herself.  And by the way, while all this is happening, Scarlett showed what a fair weather friend she was by running off in the other direction when the rumble started.  Boy, when the chips are down you really know who your friends are, don't you?  Hmmp!!  Anyway, once I got to the scene of the crime, I started yelling and those girls knew I meant business, too, because when I call you by name in that tone, you better head for the hills! (ask my husband; he's been to those same hills and back a few times over the last 15 years).  So they all scatter and after they took off, Peggy just laid there very still. My heart sank and I felt sick.  Oh my God. They've killed her. My little half-blind baby. They've pecked her to death. Or she died of a heart attack from shock.  So I picked her up gently but still nothing.  After a few seconds tho, she fluttered a little and I could breath again.  Whew! She's alive.  I checked her out all over to make sure she wasn't bleeding or anything and then held her and we walked around the yard for a while. The whole time I'm trying to reassure her that she was okay, mommy's here, no need to worry, everything's fine now. I won't let those mean girls hurt you again (I hope).  I realized then that I couldn't take a chance of leaving her alone with the big girls (or should I say EVIL WITCHES(!) - Twinkie being the ringleader!), much less have them all sleep together in the same house.  She'd never make it.  

But the real problem is this; since her and Scarlett have been old enough to sleep outside, I've had them in a makeshift house at night - actually a large dog carrier like the one you see here, and on bricks so it doesn't sit flat to the ground, and covered with boat tarp so they don't get wet when it rains.  Yes, yes, I know, it all sounds very trailer trash to you, but it was only meant to be TEMPORARY housing until they could live with the big girls in their coop - which is apparently never going to happen now. I just don't want to take that chance. I mean, how sadistic would it be to trust Peggy with those monsters again?

So now I've got to start formulating Plan B. Wasn't planning on plunking down a lot of $$$ on another house for just 2 chickens, mind you, but come October it's going to start getting chilly at night, followed by cold, REAL cold, followed by snow, ice, winds, etc., and they'll need an enclosed house - not a dog carrier covered with tarp like they've got now.  I was thinking maybe I could find a dog house on Craig's List and then have Tony build a door on it so they're protected from predators at night, but I don't know....Sigh.  This is about the smallest coop I could find that would suit their purposes (which is actually just a dog house with a nesting box attached to it, isn't it?) and at the same time, wouldn't set me back too much.  I'm not crazy about it in general, and just looking at it online it's hard to tell the quality (probably not that good) so maybe I'll keep checking around...either that or enroll my older girls in anger management classes and hope for the best.  The best being everyone living HARMONIOUSLY under one roof so that I don't have to go through all this rigamarole of having separate houses because certain chickens don't know how to act (Side-eye to you Twinkie and the Evil Red-Headed twins - Darla and Buttercup!) . 

1 comment: