Over the last few weeks, I’ve allowed Mother Nature to get a bit more involved in the Hen Integration Project. Yes, there is a new coop for the babies (which the big gals seem to enjoy more than the young’uns, judging by the many eggs they’ve laid in there), and I’m thrilled that I have a place to safely secure Mabelene and Henrietta when I need to leave the premises for a brief excursion. But I have also kept in mind the fact that I DO still want the flock to be together; I wish to be a one-coop domicile. Forcing the two sub-flocks to be separated will not accomplish my goal.
And so, each night, as dusk falls and the foursome begins to waddle toward the coops for their roosts, I let the babies choose where they want to go for the night. At first I was sure they would head into their safe little coop that I painstakingly built after weeks of gut-churning stress and paranoia. But no: they head right to the big gals’ house and fly up above the nesting boxes to settle down for the night. Why fight nature? And because I have noticed less of an intent to maim or kill from the big girls, I started to wonder: could it really be happening? Three months after bringing the babies home with visions of hen tea parties and chicken chat circles in the dappled-sun grass (no–maybe card games–and Marge would be at the head of the table smoking a Marlboro Light out of the corner of her beak while doling out cards to the rest of the flock), it may actually finally be happening? The answer is: I think so. Maybe. Hopefully.
This morning when I ventured outside to let them all out, I was delighted to see all four hens standing in the closed-up run at the same time. The babies must have flown down from their roost earlier than I’d expected–and stayed down there! With the big gals up and out at the same time, the babies normally will hop back up to their perch and hang out until I show up to open the door. Not today! Yes, they were standing in a semi-panicked huddle on high alert in the corner, but they WERE standing in the same general area as Marge and Goldie. No carnage, no attempted murder, no freaking out.
Yay for progress. Yay for time. Yay for Mom Nature.