Writing about the older girls always makes me worry I am putting a jinx on them somehow. But they deserve their moment in the sun just like the new girls.
Lizzy was recently at the top of the pecking order – she seems to have been overthrown by Dark Comb now – and she is truly the mean girl of our chook yard. If she were human I would have nothing to do with her.
I understand why she is the way she is – anyone who has watched Wentworth or Orange Is The New Black knows you don’t get to be “top dog” by just chilling out and eating bon bons while your fellow chickens fan you with fern fronds. You have to work hard to be Top Chicken, and that means chasing the other girls away from the treats by pecking at them – though generally she never makes contact.
Lizzy can also be pretty nasty when she is broody, there are times when I have had to use a stick to push her out of the nesting box because she has pecked at me, but there are also times when I am able to pick her up and remove her with no trouble.
Kitty is Lizzy’s sister – they are both Pekins – and presently third in the pecking order. She also rules with an iron fist but slightly less meanly than Lizzy does. The two of them have been broody for a while now which does give the other girls a break from their beaks, and when they are not broody the newbies have been broody.
Both Kitty and Lizzy were brought up with Twiggy who had serious nutritional deficiencies – this we discovered when we sent Twiggy for necropsy as we were concerned about respiratory symptoms she’d had. Both these girls are not expected to live as long as a normal chook due to that – the damage was done before I knew them and it cannot be repaired now. However I suspect their diet since arriving here has helped them somewhat, and I do hope they will be with us for a while longer. Their time with us will involve as many treats as they can enjoy and they will be nutritionally excellent treats.
If I were allowed to have a favourite, Dark Comb would win that competition hands down. This chicken! Where do I even begin to explain all the awesomeness of this chicken? I do not believe there is a combination of words that will express it. She makes me laugh all the time, then she makes my eyes water thinking about how she is the last girl of our original flock still standing and how our time together is now limited. She is nearly 8 years old. That is like 100 in human years. There will come a day when she is no longer with us and just typing this is causing salt water to form in my eyes.
She loves blueberries more than, well, anything else on the planet. She also likes watermelon, spinach and strawberries, but if I arrive at the back door with the blueberry container she runs up to greet me and it is the cutest thing. I will have to try and get The Other Half to capture it on video.
She is extremely friendly to humans and loves to be near us. I think she believes we are her flock and if the rest of the chooks are out free ranging she will sometimes ignore them in order to be near us. If we are not in the yard she likes to sit or stand on the windowsill near Dust Bath Central where she can look in the house and see what we are up to.
It has surprised me greatly that she now is Top Chicken. I’m not sure whether it is because four of the newbies are broody right now, or whether it is because Lizzy and Kitty have recently returned from a long stretch of broodiness, or whether it is because 6 out of our 8 chickens are now English Game Hens, or if she just convinced them all to accept her as the leader. She is the only chicken to be found on the inside roost at night now. She does not rule in a mean girls way, more in a “I am your leader and therefore all the best treats are for me” kind of way.
She does spend more time sitting down chilling than she used to, especially on hot days. I try very hard not to completely freak out at this. As long as she fronts up anytime I appear with the blueberry tray, I will be happy.
Here is Dark Comb with her two English Game Hen duckwing sisters when they first arrived in Cluckingham Palace. Red Comb and Purple Comb sadly went to Rainbow Bridge in 2015/2016 and are now both buried in the garden near the lemon tree – . All of our girls at Rainbow Bridge are much missed but especially the last three as we had them the longest, that is Rosie, Red Comb and Purple Comb.
So every moment with Dark Comb is extra precious now, and she does get specially spoiled with blueberries. She knows me well enough when the blueberries are being fed, I will throw some off in another direction to send the other girls running, then drop a couple near my feet just for her.