I’m very sad to report that while I was away in Scotland, the lovely Pepper was nabbed by a fox and she is no more.
It was upsetting but we always knew it was a possibility because our chickens room around the garden most afternoons. Even though we keep an eye on them when they’re out of their run, the urban foxes around here are quite bold & unfortunately they only need to get lucky once.
When I got back, Ginger was clearly very unsettled and lonely. It’s a bad idea to keep chickens singly because they are flock birds and need at least one other hen around. So on Saturday we headed over to our local supplier and scored a new chicken.
She’s a beautiful Cou Cou or Cuckoo Maran – the ‘cuckoo/cou cou’ part refers to the speckled silver and black colouring. Marans are originally a French breed, so naturally we had to go with an appropriately French name. She’s a ‘point of lay’, which means that she’s not laying yet but should start in a week or two once her comb grows in.
Because Ginger & Pepper had always been such good friends, I didn’t anticipate any problems introducing Colette. Boy, was that a rookie mistake! Ginger took huge exception to this interloper in her run & was absolutely rotten to poor Colette. She wouldn’t let Colette anywhere near the food & water and defended her territory with quite shocking levels of violence.
After a day of a traumatised Colette refusing to come out of the coop, I admitted defeat & asked on Freecycle for a spare run. Fortunately someone had a small rabbit run that they were planning to take to the dump, so I collected that on Monday evening and ever since Ginger has been spending her days in solitary confinement with a dish of food and water. She is less than happy!
Fortunately this is just a temporary measure – I’ve ordered another set of feeders from ebay & when those arrive, I shall divide the run with bamboo canes during the day. They’ll be near each other but they’ll both be safe and Ginger will have more room. I’m going to carry on separating them during the day until they can get along, which apparently can sometimes take months. I am making progress though, they managed to room around the garden together today without fighting and they’re sleeping together quite happily: the problems just seem to be over food.
Thankfully Colette has been slowly regaining her confidence over the last few days. She’s still jittery though – I let her out of the run today so I could clean out the coop and then she wouldn’t let me anywhere near her and wouldn’t be persuaded back in again. I couldn’t even tempt her back in with food. Fortunately she went back in on her own accord eventually & I was able to shut her in. Ginger is easy to get into the run – she’ll go anywhere for a handful of grain, the wee strumpet!