“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.
After a long hiatus, The Chicken Chronicles resumes! But first, a recap:
Marlena was in a coma while two different men claimed to be her long-lost husband…no wait, that was Days Of Our Lives! Only slightly less drama with our Gals in the backyard…
First there were Clucky, Gigi, and Babraham. Babraham was revealed to be a rooster (while Clucky was revealed to be the Death Star and Gigi just one heck of a cool chicken). Sadly, Jasmine’s beloved Babraham Lincoln was forced to relocate–to a sweet setup on Vashon Island, it should be noted–and we were down to two chickens. And two grandsons.
Over the next fall and winter, there was much talk about a replacement chicken for Jasmine and perhaps even a chicken for Tristan (nine years old and an animal lover through and through). Everything we read advised against introducing a single new chick to a flock (even just a two-chicken flock like ours), strongly suggesting bringing in two or more at a time instead.
So in Spring 2010, Rick brought home two more chicks—a Delaware for Tristan and another Auracana for Jasmine.
Tristan, a big Sonic the Hedgehog fan, named his chick Amy, after the “pink girl hedgehog who believes herself to be Sonic’s girlfriend” (thank you, Wikipedia*). Jasmine christened her adorable little chick Yo-Yo.
Amy and Yo-Yo lived in the house–just as Clucky, Gigi, and Babraham had during their chickhood. Clucky and Gigi still had full run of the back yard and for the most part remained blissfully unaware of the new additions. Could Clucky sense a distrubance in the force? It was hard to tell. But soon enough it would be time for the new chicks to join the flock.
Talk about drama.
*Wikipedia also notes that “Amy’s skills with her ‘Piko Piko Hammer’ are second to none”. This may be significant, except that I have no idea what it means.
Long before we ever had chickens, we brought home a German Shorthair Pointer puppy we named Jigsaw. She is 13 years old now, but still very busy and extremely silly (as she has always been). She has been quite a good friend to the chickens over the years–amazingly so, in fact, consider that she is a bird dog by breeding. Once I unwittingly shut Gigi into Jigsaw’s dog run with her, only to come back later and find them both waiting patiently at the gate to be let out.
Last year, we commissioned Tina Marohn, a friend and neighbor, to paint a portrait of Jigsaw for Rick’s birthday. (Wouldn’t you know a couple of the chickens snuck their way into the picture, as well???) Tina has a lovely, gentle spirit and does beautiful work. She specializes in animal portraits, but also creates stunning stained glass pieces. In addition, for each painting she does, Tina donates a portion of the proceeds to the animal rescue organization of your choice.