Last Sunday we figured we'd be down one hen by this Saturday, and we are.
Remember that sign Michael Moore comes across in a Flint, Michigan backyard in "Roger and Me," that reads: "Rabbits for sale: for pets or meat"? When you've got backyard chickens, that becomes a question: Which is it, pets or meat?
Years ago when we realized we had two alpha roosters who kept fighting each other, my friend Pat offered a solution: Coq Au Vin. I was horrified! But then I realized: keeping chickens may be chic, but it is not for sissies.
This has come into full relief in the past few days, as we debated the fate of the one-eyed hen in the cellar. We're only half-joking when we muse over whether our local glassblower Josh Simpson would accept a commission to create a tiny glass eye for her.
Could we get her a tiny chicken eyepatch?
We were thinking we'd have to put her down.What to do? Take her out into the woods and leave her there? Ring her neck? We couldn't do it.
Then she started to rally. The antibiotics might have kicked in, or maybe just relaxing in the cellar window--the hen spa. She's still missing an eye, but she doesn't seem to bump into things as much.
Then I brought her out to the flock and, the rooster took after her again. We could be facing the poultry version of "Lord of the Flies."
This leads us to the term "pecking order." From Merriam Webster's: "the basic pattern of social organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another lower in the scale without fear of retaliation and submits to pecking by one of higher rank" (Hey, sounds like your last job, right?)
But here is the strange thing: we lost a bird this week, but it wasn't the Barred Rock who got the crap pecked out of her. It was a Blue Andalusian who, yesterday, seemed fine.