Little things are happening. Good things. First of all, Henrietta now allows me to pet her. How did she learn this? Could it be by watching me pet Goldie and Marguerite? Every time I come outside the big girls run to me like I have a handful of spaghetti. (Sometimes I do.) Regardless of whether or not there is a treat in my outstretched hand, there is always an outstretched hand. And sometimes, all they receive is a nice pet on their beautiful feathers. Each and every time this occurs, I make sure it is in view of the baby hens. I know they learn much of what they know from other chickens.
And just the other day, when Henrietta walked toward me, my outstretched hand was acknowledged with a quick drop and squat–wings spread–and I took the opportunity to pet her. It was delightful. Perhaps Mabelene will get the point next. Although she is still just about as skittish as a hockey puck on slick ice. (Quite suitable for a hen that runs like a speed skater.)
Other notable milestone: All four girls spent some daylight hours in the big run while I was gone the other day. We had had downpours of rain, and the babies took refuge in the big girls coop, with the big girls below in the outdoor run. I had to go out for an appointment, and I knew there was no way I was going to get those babies to come out the coop and into their own little coop. (Anyone who has chickens knows that if they don’t want to go out in the rain, there’s no way to make them unless you can grab them and move them yourself.) So, knowing that I had enough escape routes and upper-level perches built into the structure–and the babies are comfortable now enough to leave them and get away from the big girls if they need to–I left them. (Of course, not before texting my neighbor to ask if they could stop over a few times and let me know if they detected any blood-curling carnage going on.)
I am thrilled to report that all went well. When I got up in the morning to let everyone out for the day, the babies were running around in the run with the big hens. Granted, they were standing in a corner with their necks raised like giraffes on alert and eyes as big as saucers, but they were holding their own. And the big girls seemed to have no desire to kick their asses. I even noticed Henrietta do her squat-and-drop submissive pose when Marguerite got a little close. Marguerite took stock of the situation and simply walked away.
So, I believe we are almost entirely integrated. I still don’t have enough confidence to leave them together all day-I worry that the babies will never get anything to eat that way, so will hold on to their little coop for now. Plus, having an extra domicile could be beneficial in the future, should I need to separate anyone for any reason.
For now, reporting from the land of backyard chicken-dom, all is well. Over and out. 🙂