I have 3 new handmaidens. The old one is not pleased.
Even chickengoddesses have to live and learn. And I have learned. The answer to the question of introducing new pullets to a single old hen is, um, don't do it.
You see, I have been intending to get Ophelia new friends since Gladys was killed, years ago. And probably had I done it then while she was still young it would have been fine. But not so now. I brought home 3 pullets today and tossed them in with the best of intentions. At first, they were acting like one big happy family. Then I noticed that Ophelia had started pacing and talking a lot. Whole lots. She started getting kinda schizo with the pacing and talking to herself, but was still largely leaving the pullets alone. Then she started pecking them, but only like a warning, and only when they came near her. I had hoped that this was as far as it would go, but sadly I was wrong. About the time my husband came home for lunch she had started seeking them out like some kind of chicken terminator. The littlest one found shelter between the roosting bars and the floor where she could just fit, but she couldn't stay there forever. The other two were getting bloodied and I had to do something, so I pulled Ophelia out and put her in the bathroom while I ran out and borrowed an old rabbit cage from a friend. It will definitely do for now. So now everyone is separate and safe, until the new girls get big enough to go in with Ophelia.
Originally I had named my chickens Gladys and Ophelia because those were the names my sister and I would assume as children when we played dress up at my Gram's house. But now that there's only Ophelia, I have decided to go with the theme of Shakespearean females, and after today sticking with the tragic ones seems only right. So here's Juliet (the white one), Desdemona (the black and white one) and Cleopatra (mostly black) in their first blog appearance, with Ophelia being angry, which is what she does best today. Any guesses how long before she starts laying again?