Yellow Chicken House

Chicken Keeping – The good, the bad and the egg-ly!

And then there were two

on March 23, 2016
Shelley and Cookie

Shelley and Cookie; a beautiful friendship

After the death of Cookie, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the remaining two girls to ensure they are coping after their loss. As Cookie held the top spot in the pecking order, I’m not quite sure what to expect in terms of the altered dynamics of the flock. I do know that Cookie and Shelley were particularly close, perhaps because they were both Warrens or because they came from the same hatch. They shared a bond which was evident in their understanding of each others actions, seemingly working in harmony during foraging and particularly the bedtime routine. In sharp contrast, Speckledy aka Buffy is clumsy and was clearly an irritation to the other two who seemed to ‘get each other’. Speckledy would blunder past the other girls into the hen house at dusk, missing the subtle cues from Cookie that she was overstepping the mark. Cookie would then strut into the house and chase Speckledy back out while Shelley quietly watched on then made her own way into the house. I doubt that my description of this little routine fails to do justice to the simmering tension and grave seriousness of the situation. I used to sit in the background, sipping a glass of red wine and watch fascinated as these three little hens bickered. Having spent many evenings watching this little political charade playing out before me, I suspect that Speckledy was not deliberately challenging Cookie’s authority but was instead too carried away with her own needs to consider the repercussions of the pecking order.

Cookie and Speckledy; a love/hate relationship

Cookie and Speckledy; a love/hate relationship

On their first evening without Cookie, Shelley sat very quietly on the lawn, glancing around nervously. I sat down nearby and she jumped up on the bench and just looked at me, clucking softly. Speckledy paced the lawn, whining loudly and poking her head under bushes and behind things. The light was fading fast and the girls would normally  spend those precious few minutes guzzling water and munching on grass. They left it as late as possible before shuffling towards the chicken house, neither one appearing to be taking the lead. Eventually, Shelley took the first step into the house and Speckledy followed suit. Clearly, the absence of the top hen has left its mark.

I’ve decided not to replace Cookie for several reasons. Firstly, I’m not convinced that a third hen would benefit the remaining girls and I’m conscious of the further upheaval that it could cause. My partner and I are currently preparing to move house which will generate stress in itself. Secondly, I would find it difficult to have another hen around so soon after losing a girl I was so close to. Finally, I have recently learned first-hand about the difficulty of living in rented accommodation with pet chickens (a subject which I will be writing about in more detail imminently). As long as Speckedly and Shelley continue to pootle along contentedly together as a twosome, I am happy to continue with a little flock of two.


2 responses to “And then there were two

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