Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two New Girls

Pearl is very photogenic, with dark orange eyes.
They're the new kids on the block: two little pullets that are at that gawky adolescent stage. We brought home Pearl (a Porcelain Belgian D'Uccle, chosen by L) and Cocoa (a speckled sussex) on Thursday, but committed a poultry faux pas. I didn't think about it at the time, but we should have quarantined them in a separate area for a couple of weeks before putting them in with Violet, Oreo, and Clover. It wasn't until after I'd put them in the coop for the first night that I read that we should have waited, and so we'll hold our breath for a couple of weeks and hope they haven't introduced any germs to the other girls.

We waited to make introductions until dark, having heard that newcomers may be accepted more readily if they show up in the coop in the middle of the night. Oreo was perched on the highest roost, and Pearl, small as she is, gathered up her courage and burst up to roost in a flurry of feathers.

Cocoa (we tried to avoid photographing her embarrassing purple parts).
She landed squarely on top of Oreo's head, tipped back, clung to Oreo and tilted forward. Caught by surprise, the larger bird staggered back and forth, trying to keep her balance and compensate for her passenger without falling off the roost. Pearl struggled as well, gaining purchase on Oreo's back, then turning so that the double-decker chickens were face-forward and tipping precariously to one side. Oreo's expression went from stunned, to horrified, to disgusted. She was not impressed with this youngster's etiquette.

They all eventually settled in, disgruntled older hens and uneasy new pullets roosting at opposite ends of the three perches, looking like a bunch of awkward teenagers at a school dance trying to avoid eye contact.

The next morning, I hurried out to let the big girls out of the coop at first light. I opened the door, and they all looked at me from the same spots they'd occupied the night before. Violet, Oreo, and Clover hurried out, and I put food and water outside for them, closing the run so that the two pullets would have the day in the run and coop. We'll keep them separated during the day for awhile, helping them settle in.

Cocoa had been pecked pretty heavily before we got her, and she came to us with about one tail feather, the rest having been pretty efficiently removed by bigger chickens and those that were higher in the pecking order. She has a bright purple rear end--gentian violet painted over her bare skin to prevent other hens from pecking her naked self. Poor thing. But if those tail feathers are allowed to grow back in, I think she'll be a pretty hen.

Pearl--K calls her L's designer chicken--looks an awful lot like a pigeon with feathered legs and fuzzy cheeks. She's very pretty, and it will be fun to see her mature.

Both girls seem to be settling in. There have been some carefully placed pecks to remind them of their place, but so far, so good.

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