Last week when I was sitting at the computer composing my meme blog entry, I happened to look out the window and see one of the Dominique hens apparently attacking...what? Another hen? I could see feathers flying as I started up from my chair. As I made my way out the back door, I could see that one of the Rhode Island Reds had joined in, and feathers were still flying. They moved off at my approach, into the stall to get ready to perch for the night. What did I find nestled next to a feed tub but a poor brutalized mourning dove, still alive, but looking extremely traumatized and rather naked.
Really, a dove? The worldwide symbol of peace? What were you barbaric hens thinking? And why not pick on something your own size, you big bullies?
I gently picked up the poor bird as the rams looked on and tried to think of a safe place to put it to either recover or pass on. I finally decided on the old-fashioned hollyhocks that are growing in profusion with plenty of dense foilage on the side of the house. And I was pretty certain that it was an area that pretty much remained unfrequented by JellyBean. I dumped a little cracked corn in front of her (that's what they come to the barnyard for anyway) and left her hidden there. When I went back to check later, she had tucked herself even further up into her hidey hole. Later that night I was out giving the dogs their last walk before bed and checked again and she was gone. I haven't seen a nearly bald mourning dove around here since then, but I'd like to think she survived the attack of the killer hens. (True confession time: I once opened a feed bin to find a mouse inside and JellyBean nowhere around to do the honors, so I dumped the mouse out in front of some hens hoping they'd finish him off. The lucky little beggar was able to get the jump on them and get away.)
Is this a flock of hens or a gang?
She really doesn't look like someone a small creature would want to mess with.
Dominicker patrol. They sort of look like they're dressed for prison don't they?
And my Old English Game hens are as broody as ever. I had a singleton chick about a month ago, but it died mysteriously. But this little black hen hopped on that same nest and managed to hatch out two more chicks, seen here in their chick tractor.
This hen sat on a nest inside a cat crate that I had set in the chicken house to hold the first chick that was hatched this year. I was slow to remove the crate, and the next thing I know a hen was setting in it. Here's what she hatched out. (I think she's a beautiful hen.)
This little pearl grey chick is my favorite. Knowing my luck, it's probably yet another rooster.
JellyBean is overseeing the transition of the chicks from houses inside the chicken pen to these outdoor chick tractors. Amazingly, he has never to my knowledge bothered a chick once I start letting them free range with their mamas (Moses was another story entirely--free range chicks meant free and happy hunting to him).
And we have yet another supervisor. Whatever would I do without all the help?
Is it a standoff....
Oh, those ears! (Okay, the mottling makes up for it I guess.)
Pip says, "Huh?" And that probably doesn't really surprise anyone. (See why I call him Big Head Fred?)
Willow is, of course, the one true protector of the hens and their chicks. She has really begun to look old over these past few months.