Well, things seem to be settling down at last. We managed to get the croppy chicken back into the flock, with a mixture of bribes and strategic pairing.
First, we put a big mess of rolled oats, yoghurt, and chopped apples into the coop at the same time as we dropped Croppy in. That kept the others from immediately removing all of her feathers. They started after her, especially one of them, after a bit, so we tossed them out to range a while and Croppy stayed in and ate a little, and looked nervous. If she’d had a collar to loosen, she would’ve.
I had noticed that one of the others, Thrasher (for her torn comb a result of past tendency to rip the feeder off the side wall of the coop) was not as brutal towards her, so I decided to put her back in with Croppy alone and leave the head hen out. This threw Thrasher into a state of mild paralysis. Where was the boss??? She was not interested in attacking Croppy, and took to pacing the front of the coop, crooning for her mistress (and that’s clearly not me, either!). After about 15 anxious minutes, I let the head hen back in. All of this maneuvering either confused, or exhausted them enough that things remained fairly calm after that. We left them to work things out, and checked in before sundown to make sure no silent slaughter had occured. While Croppy was minus a few more head feathers, she was largely intact. She also clearly know knows her place. The bottom.
As usually happens with major disruption, they went a day off their laying, but Patrick reports 2 eggs at lunch today, so hopefully, all will smooth out for a while.
Also managed to get seed orders placed last weekend, so we have visions of spring planting dancing in our heads, easing us through a period of an embarrassment of computer work. Not a time to complain about work, given the economy, but let’s just say I’m glad the days are getting longer so we’ll be able to at least see the yard before and after work!