“But his soul was mad…it had looked within itself, and by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad.” – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
“’The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don’t turn against him; they crush those beneath them.’” – Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
“If for one instant I had thought what might be the hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have banished myself forever from my native country and wandered a friendless outcast over the earth…But, as if possessed of magic powers, the monster had blinded me to his real intentions.” – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
You get the idea.
Warning: We now enter a dark chapter of The Chicken Chronicles. (Hopefully the darkest.) What started as the sweet springtime addition of two new chicks to our flock all too soon went terribly and horribly wrong. It quickly became apparent that new chick Yo-Yo was not going to be nearly as big as the other chickens. While that does make her extra adorable in our eyes, it unfortunately painted a target on her back (specifically her neck feathers) for Gigi and Clucky, our two established hens. They jumped on her, pecked at her, it was awful. Short of outfitting Yo-Yo in a tiny suit of armor—which we did discuss, but just couldn’t quite figure out the specifics on—nothing seemed to keep the older chickens away from her.
Fellow new chick Amy was spared similar harsh treatment, being roughly the size and build of the other two, but the stress got to her nonetheless–in very bizarre and disturbing ways. Amy started eating eggs, including her own. We had read about “egg eaters” in various chicken books, but had failed to truly grasp the horror. (“She’s a cannibal?!?!”)
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Amy too started acting aggressively, although not towards any of the other chickens.
Instead she targeted our 2-year-old grandson, Darian (aka Mr. Bubby).
Not cool, Amy.
We tried a number of different tactics to deter this behavior, none of which were especially succesful. One particularly spectacular fail was when we armed Bubby with a vuvuzela (it was the summer of the World Cup in South Africa, after all) and gave him the green light to blow it at Amy if she started to look threatening. For the record, this did work to keep Amy away, but it also scared Yo-Yo so badly that she ended up on the roof of the chicken coop and was only able to be coaxed down after an intervention involving the removal of aforementioned vuvuzela.
All Doughty family attempts at chicken behavior modification having thus far proved fruitless, perhaps it was time to go back to the drawing board.