December 20, 2009 § Leave a comment
Never thought we’d have to admit to being beaten by a chicken, but we admit defeat. Despite the weeks of proximity, the supervised interaction, the very obvious displeasure of the other hens and our own frequent pleas, Neroli and Poppy have flatly refused to live together.
We’ve done everything we could think of, but there’s been no improvement. We’ve even let them fight on a couple of occasions, hoping that at least one would get enough of a victory that the other would concede defeat but no. I honestly believe that they would kill each other. God knows they’ve tried. And continue to try. The other hens don’t like it either – Ella in particular will launch herself at the combatants, shrieking and pecking. I’ve seen her drag Neroli by the wattle on one occasion. But it doesn’t make any difference that we can see – they will not tolerate each other’s presence.
To make matters worse, Frida is also now fighting Poppy. (And the converse: Poppy is no longer willing to be bossed by Frida.) We’re hoping that this particular battle is just because Frida is broody, and therefore bolshie. But … who knows?
We essentially have two choices:
- get rid of one of them,
- run two separate flocks.
It would be those two, wouldn’t it? Poppy and Neroli, the two we are most attached to. We talked about it a bit, but neither of us could face saying goodbye to either of our girls. So two flocks it is.
Yesterday we set up the Summer Palace alongside the garage. We store the house and run there anyway, so it’s not that big a deal to have it set up as living quarters. We’ll try to rotate the girls, so that they stay as close to being one flock as possible, and don’t start to get territorial. They’re perfectly safe in either run. And we’ll try to make sure they have some time mingling together under supervision.
Maybe Poppy and Neroli will eventually settle down. If they haven’t by winter then we might have a few problems – have to modify the house to keep the separation going (as the Summer Palace becomes the Winter Garden, and the LSA is left empty through winter).
Either way, there’s a certain comfort in not having to worry about it for a while longer.
And lots of cuddle time. With both our girls.