Game of Hens

 In Chicken keeping, Urban homesteading

First, let me say this: I have never watched Game of Thrones and know little about it beyond the occasional stories and references that make their way onto social media and into casual conversations. It is from these cursory encounters that I have come to understand that it is a terribly violent program wherein the characters regularly go medieval on each others’ asses.

This past May I saw a post about a particularly vile character who fed his baby brother to a pack of dogs so that his status as heir wouldn’t be challenged by said baby. That’s some pretty sick shit there.

So, what does this have to do with my flock of sweet little chickens? Sadly, everything. I have an egg eater and it is a total power move in which the bottom-of-the-pecking-order hen, Amelia, is eating the eggs of the alpha hen, Scout. It is, in GoT parlance, the lowliest soul in the kingdom, eating the queen’s offspring. Again, that’s some pretty sick shit.

GOH1

Amelia’s handiwork

Sure, since I do not have a rooster, the eggs my girls lay are not fertilized and therefore cannot be considered a chick in the making. But Amelia doesn’t know this and, from an evolutionary perspective, she is engaging in some first-rate survival-of-the-fittest treachery: she is going medieval on Scout’s ass. This is Game of Hens.

 

three chickens

Rosa, Amelia & Jo hunting for bugs

Now a bit of background to help you better understand my little GoH drama:

  1. Let’s start with Amelia… I name my girls after strong women (both real and fictional). I gave Amelia her name because, since I acquired her at three days old, she has been nervous and flighty. Flighty. Get it? Amelia (Earhart). However, unlike the steely Ms. Earhart, Amelia of the Flock is a hot, neurotic mess. I believe that regardless of the flock she wound up in, Amelia was destined to be at the bottom of the pecking order. She is regularly missing feathers on the back of her head—feathers that have been plucked out by Scout.
  2. Named for Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout wasn’t always the alpha hen. She ascended to the throne when the original alpha, Buttercup, died. (Think: Princess Bride). I miss that bossy little bird.
  3. Scout in an Ameraucana and, as such, she lays light blue eggs. She is the only member of the flock who lays a colored egg. This is how I know which hen’s eggs are being eaten. I have long suspected Amelia of being the egg eater but my suspicions were confirmed a few weeks ago when I caught her with splatters of telltale yellow yolk all over her white feathers.
  4. Chickens are the original Mean Girls and Scout, like many an alpha hen, rules the roost with an iron beak. She torments Amelia mercilessly but treats the others mostly with indifference except when, well, treats are involved. When I enter the coop to dispense chicken treats, Scout asserts her dominance, taking the best morsels first. Woe to the hen who thinks she can steal a quick nibble behind Scout’s back. Woe I tell you!

Intervention on my part has done nothing to change the coop dynamics and I’m told that there’s little I can do that will change the pecking order behavior. There is, however, something I can do to alter the egg-eating behavior. It requires that I go some flavor of medieval on Amelia and that flavor will be… MUSTARD!

Yes, mustard. Why? Because it is easy to squeeze into a hollowed-out eggshell and I’m told chickens hate it.

GOHfilleggI have my pale blue decoy egg all hollowed out and ready to be filled with mustard but since I am leaving for Mexico, I have decided to wait to place the little mustardy bomb in the coop until I return. To be continued…

GoH Update: I wrote this post on Friday but didn’t get it on the blog as I was scurrying around to get ready to travel to Mexico on Saturday. We arrived in San Miguel de Allende early Sunday. On Monday morning I got a call from our wonderful, sweet, caring chicken sitter. When I saw her name on my phone I was pretty sure it was not good news. I was not wrong. She told me that Amelia had died. It wasn’t Scout who did her in but some random chicken ailment (she’d been listless the day I left but I attributed that to the heat that day). I’m sad but hoping that poor little chicken has finally found a bit of peace and that she is ruling a roost filled with treats somewhere in chicken nirvana. RIP Amelia.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Showing 4 comments
  • Debra
    Reply

    Wow, what chicken drama! Sorry that you lost Amelia 🙁

    • Stacey Clinesmith
      Reply

      Debra, yes, despite having chickens for over three years now, I remain amazed at jut how much drama there is in the hen house. In fact, our chicken sitter reported more drama yesterday… When she went to collect eggs yesterday, she found that Scout’s egg had been eaten. So, either Amelia came back as a hungry ghost or she initiated another of the girls into the egg eating club before her demise. Looks I might need to break out the mustard bomb after all. …sigh…

  • Edie [eats]
    Reply

    Oh, I sorry to read of Amelia’s passing! And the returning of her ghost. 😉
    And yeah, it’s fun just to sit and watch all that chicken drama happening in front of you. No need for a tv. My Alexia is broody now, and it’s cool to see the other chicks are taking care of her.

    • Stacey Clinesmith
      Reply

      Edie, Thanks for the empathy! Oy, good luck with the broody Alexia! One of my girls persisted in her broodiness for long enough that I had to intervene. If you want to see what I had to do, you can read “Breaking Brood” (https://yourbeetingheart.com/breaking-brood/). It is good to hear that her sister chickens are rallying around her.

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