Welcome To 2016!
It was New Year’s morning. I decided to let the chickens celebrate by giving them some of the mealworms my mom had given them for Christmas. I mixed the worms in with the scratch I’ve been putting out to give the chickens the protein they need to get through their molting, opened the door, and stood back to watch the fireworks. Steve, John, and Suzy Creamcheese Junior were the first ones out, as usual. The old guard, like me, prefer to get up slowly and greet the day at their own pace, if possible. The n00bs hit the scratch, but didn’t seem to pay much attention to the mealworms. Then the old guard got to the ground, noticed the mealworms, and went straight for those, ignoring the scratch. Then it hit me – the n00bs had never known the joy of mealworms, so they were probably wary of something new. Then Steve (or John) ate one, and I saw the realization that these things were a delicacy dawn on her, and finally, all of them started attacking the mealworms with gusto. Luckily, no fights broke out. But I hope it was at least a good start to a new year that they have absolutely no concept of.
Don’t worry, Boss Chicken got some mealworms too. She actually was a little more excited about breakfast than usual for some reason. Often I’ll take down the piece of wood I use as a wind guard to her inner sanctum in the rabbit hutch, and she’s pretty reluctant come out. Why get out of bed if you don’t have to? But she seemed to sense this day was different, perhaps by the fact that I was reading way too much into the actions of chickens, and she came out and starting digging into her food before I even put the worms in. It’s nice to see her excited, because very soon it will be time to bring her inside, if only for a day or two, which may dampen her spirits. I keep checking the forecast, and Monday’s overnight has gone from 18 (which I decided was my cutoff temperature for leaving her outside) to 10, and now to 5. Single-digits are a definite no-go for a solo chicken. I have decided, at least temporarily, to keep her in a storage bin rather than the dog crate she usually goes into, in the interest of keeping the pine shavings more contained. I still have to get said bin, but they are easy enough to find. I’m also going to put her in a different room than I normally do, since Spooky is currently in Boss Chicken’s usual winter room. That way the Boss will be free from feline attention, wanted or unwanted. Best to not stress out a chicken or tempt a cat.
We’ve been slowly introducing Spooky to the rest of the cats. Oddly enough, the rest of the cats don’t seem to mind Spooky much at all. Our big tomcat walked right up, sat down, and looked at her as if to say hello. Spooky hissed and ran off. She did the same for our tortie, who seemed a little less welcoming, but nothing beyond hissing went down. “As long as they don’t fight, everything will be fine,” I said to my wife, since the only way Spooky could transmit FIV to the others would be by biting.
“Well, they kind of have to fight to establish the hierarchy, don’t they?” she replied. “How do we stop that?”
“I suppose we sit them down and explain it all rationally,” I said. “I’m sure they’ll listen once they know all the facts.” This is not going to happen, but they have all kept their distance during Spooky’s forays into the regular part of the house, and so the more familiar they get with each other, the less likely a battle royale is to break out. And then we’ll have a happy cat family, and a chicken who gets her normal winter digs back. I am absolutely sure this will go as easily as I am imagining it, because that’s how everything always works, right?