The neurotic and the paraplegic

Today I walked down to the allotment wondering how Leia was coping. Last night, she had crammed herself into a corner in panic. There weren’t any chickens near her but she was still terrified. She really is pathetic. I had been pondering overnight about why she was so scared. The only thing I could think of was that due to her various suicide attempts (hypothermia at 2 days old and going off her legs at 9 weeks) meant that she has spent her entire life to date with no more than one chicken. Being surrounded by so many must be terrifying.

When I arrived, I couldn’t find her. She wasn’t hiding in any of the coop corners, in either nest box or anywhere else. Bending down, I checked underneath the nest box, I spotted her hiding at the back. I tried to tempt her out with some treats but she wouldn’t come close. I fed the other girls in the hope it might tempt her out. It didn’t. I tried poking a stick underneath to get her to come out. Leia was having none of it!

Eventually, I called my husband and got him to come and help. It was definitely a two man job! My husband stood at one end of the nest box and gently prodded her towards my end of the nest box. I reached in and grabbed her. This was not well received. But I held her until she stopped screeching and walked her up to the greenhouse to meet Pop. I was initially a little worried that she would attack poor Pop who can’t defend herself.

Luckily, Leia was more concerned with eating food than bothering Pop. We stood with them for about half an hour and neither of them was particularly irritated by the other. Leia seemed much more relaxed within minutes of realising there was only Pop to worry about. She walked into the nest box and threw the bedding around whilst Pop watched her rather bemused. We left them to settle in and make friends.

Mid-evening I walked back to the allotment to check on Leia and Pop. They were both there, happily relaxing together. With a bit of encouragement Pop spent a good ten minutes picking through the food bowl for corn and even managed some small bits of weed. I checked on their water and sat a while with them. Over the next few days, I expect they will become more friendly with each other.

Thinking of weeds, I decided to pop down to the bottom section of the plot and spent a good half hour getting rid of the worst of the weeds. Tomorrow, I will hoe over it to get the rest. Before I left for home, I went back to the greenhouse and put Pop into the nest box. Leia was still walking about but I hope they snuggle up together overnight.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will use the old greenhouse frame and some new wire to build a new smaller coop on the front of the main coop. This will allow Leia and Pop to see the others whilst being separate. It will also give us the opportunity to add a gateway and thus extending the coop space for our girls


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