After the end of a very long and tiring week, there is nothing better than heading to the allotment for a day in the fresh air. Happily, it wasn’t raining and the sun even put in a few short appearances! I checked on all the girls quickly before spotting Tracy with one of her grandchildren. Grabbing a cup of sunflower seeds, I asked if they would like to come and feed some chickens. With Tracy guarding the door to stop Lilja escaping, we fed the chickens together before collecting eight eggs from the nest box. It’s so lovely to be able to share allotment life with others. Together, we put the eggs away and I held Roxy for her to stroke. Bravely, she did before a rather disgruntled Roxy wriggled out of my hands.
With Roxy back in her coop using a bribe of dandelion leaves to keep her there, I went to chat with Geoff. Life is clearly beginning to get back to normal after Covid as I found Geoff sitting with his feet up, enjoying a pipe surrounded by his chickens. There is something so reassuring about the way allotment life rarely changes despite whatever carnage is happening in the world outside. We chatted, putting the world to rights before I headed off to the main coop. Tommy was in full crow this morning and at close proximity, it’s incredibly loud! Unfortunately, Millie was struggling again with her breathing, so I grabbed the syringe, cider vinegar and, after several attempts, caught and administered her dose. The first thing she did was to shake her head, spraying everything within a five foot radius with vinegar. This included thoroughly spraying the human holding her. Trying not to gag, I put her down and went off to wash my face and hands.
Joining several of the gang up on the main path, we compared notes on the weather, Covid vaccines and how our crops were getting on. Phil appeared and offered his two beautiful older bantam girls to me. I mean really, what else could I say but yes?! My main concern was that they would struggle in the main coop with the big girls. Tommy is at least four times the size of them and I was worried they might get crushed or badly hurt. Phil assured me that the white one had an attitude problem and would stand her ground against the larger girls. Between us, we decided to move them whilst there were two of us to catch them. Catching them was surprisingly easy and we walked down to the main coop, each holding a bantam under our arm. When we got into the main coop, we decided to put them in the ground rather than on the nest box as I would have usually.
What followed had to be seen to be believed. I shall try my best to describe the melee that followed but this was one of those moments that you really had to be there to get the full impact. First, Tommy came forward to investigate. Now he is a pretty poor excuse for a cockerel, but I was astounded at his reaction to the white bantam in particular. Squaring up to the white bantam, Tommy towered over it and clearly expected her to submit. Imagine his horror, and our surprise, when the bantam squares up to Tommy, proceeding to stick out her neck feathers in a display of aggression. Tommy stood still, a bit nonplussed. Catching him mid-thought, she launched herself at him, pecking fiercely at any part of Tommy she could reach. Somehow, she even managed to jump and get her beak around one of Tommy’s wattles. For a few frantic seconds, she even hung off the wattle. Poor Tommy! Although the big girls will give him an occasional peck if he annoys them, he clearly had absolutely no clue what to do with open aggression. After several of these attacks, he kept his distance and stomped around both bantams, clearly fighting a losing battle for dominance. Phil commented it looked like he was mincing around them. Rolling my eyes, I had to agree – as if I needed further proof that Tommy is completely useless.
With Tommy now actively hiding behind the nest box and the other girls came forward one at a time. Polly in particular was determined to up her place in the pecking order. Unfortunately for her, her aggression and determination was matched by the white bantam who gave as good as she got. One down, four to go. Millie and Hattie had enough sense to not enter the fray but Rey and Cassie had a go. Each time, their pecks were met with harder ones. Every insult or attack was returned with double the ferocity. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Within the next fifteen minutes, all the big girls and Tommy were cowering in the far corner of the run behind the nest box whilst the bantams explored the run.
I wandered off to do some weeding along the back and side of the main coop, watched avidly by several pairs of greedy beaks. With all seemingly quiet in the main coop, I retreated to the shed to ponder suitable names for the bantams. It seemed like the white bantam would shortly be ruling the flock with an iron claw so I began to look at names of various dictators. None of them could be easily tweaked to suit. Digging through old fashioned names, I came across Maude. From the Old German, Maude means battle- mighty which seemed to fit perfectly! The little Wyandotte, I decided to call Mavis to compliment Maude. Upon hearing loud squalks, I leapt up and ran down to the main coop. Someone had strayed too close to Maude and paid the price. I chivved both Maude and Mavis into the new nest box and shut them in to give the others a break. Honestly, who would have thought that one bantam would take on and terrorise five big hens and one pathetic excuse for a cockerel?!
When we popped down before dinner, we found Maude a little the worse for wear. Her eyelid was swollen with only a small slit showing the eye beneath. Telling her off, I checked her over and decided to keep both bantams separated until tomorrow to give them all a break from each other.