Dopey has some new friends! On Wednesday I decided to go and get her 2 new friends. I first went to a bird farm which I have heard good things about. However, two things persuaded me not to buy birds there - firstly, they gave me wrong advice I think - I wanted to get 2 birds, to balance up Dopey's advantages of age/laying status/establishment in run, as otherwise I thought it would be uneven. However they said I should only get 1, as otherwise they would gang up on Dopey. Secondly, their birds seemed a little quiet, a little hunched and I just didn't feel they were as healthy as they might be.
So in the afternoon I went back to Annie Hall, whose chickens were lovely, and I bought a lovely Bluebelle, and a 'silver link hybrid' which I think is similar to the Amber Star chickens. The bluebelle is called Smokey, and I think the white chicken will be Snowball, but I'm not sure yet.
Introducing them to Dopey has been interesting; when I got them home I put them in the chicken house with the pophole shut, so they could have a rest, a drink and some food. They were fairly quiet, but later on they had a big drink and then ventured into the run (I had put Dopey in the house of the other run with the door shut). They enjoyed exploring the run. In the evening I let them all into the run together - Dopey instantly chased the new chickens indoors, and had a bit of a peck. They all slept together happily, but the new birds are obviously wary of Dopey. The first night, the new girls roosted on the perch and Dopey slept on the floor.
Yesterday when I let them out, there was a fair amount of scuffling, and I spent most of the day changing the chickens round - so Dopey spent some time in the rabbit hutch, with the new girls in the run so Dopey could see them and they could see her. I will do this each day so that they have some undisturbed time in the run, to gain confidence - at the moment they are spending most of their time in the house as they feel safe in there. Last night they all roosted together - with Dopey snuggled up on the perch next to Smokey. So I'm hopeful it won't take too many days for them to be happy together! We will have to see how today goes. I'm not totally happy about leaving them out together when I'm out yet, especially as Smokey gave me a fright yesterday when I heard a squawking, went out and found what looked like a very dead Smokey, half under the ramp to get into the house. I thought Dopey must have dropped the ramp on her and squashed her. But when I lifted the ramp, she came out, which was a HUGE relief. So when I go out later, I will banish Dopey to the rabbit hutch and shut the other two in the run, so they have to acclimatise themselves.
Given how scared of Dopey they are, I am SO glad I got 2 chickens - 1 would have been a disaster as it would never have been able to stick up for itself.