Chickens are creatures of habit, they are practical and they like climbing, so it should not have been a great surprise when I looked out the window from where I am sitting right now to find this looking back.
We bought Quentin and Quince about a month ago and since then Hanno has patiently nursed Quince through a nasty eye infection. She looks to be recovered now but she's blind in that eye and a little undernourished but I think she'll be fine in the long run. Generally new chickens would be well and truly integrated into the flock by now but Hanno separated Quince from the other girls when he noticed her bad eye, and Quentin, voluntarily, followed her. Even now she will fly over the fence, away from the other hens, to be with Quince. There is a loyalty there that is touching and quite fascinating.
During the time when Quince's eye was badly infected, her feathers became matted around her head and neck. Hanno washed her a couple of times and gently dried her in the sun. If she could talk, I'm sure she would have thanked him. With all this handling, these two little Sussex hens have become very tame and don't mind at all being picked up, which Hanno often does. He has such a soft heart when it comes to animals. I've seen him many times just sitting on the back verandah, smiling, and watching the two Qs.
But soon the time will come when they will have to join their coop sisters and free range in the backyard. They're fenced off from the flock now, living on the back verandah, and so Quentin can perch on a bench close to my computer and she can watch over Quince as she scratches for food. People say that chickens are dumb critters and I have certainly found that to be so with some, but like people, there are all types - some funny, some sullen, some smart and some not so. Quentin is a leader, so I'm glad we named her for our first female governor general.
I think Hanno will move them out to join the flock today. Their little wooden fruit box full of straw will go with them and they'll have to roost in the coop, instead of on the rungs of the old chair standing near our bedroom. It's been lovely having two baby chicks peeping at the back door but the time has come for them to move on. I think they'll stay together out there and I think Quentin will always help Quince find the water container and scatterings of grain.
If you take the time to know them, you will see character differences in all your chooks. Lucy, our Old English Game chook is bossy, highly strung and a rebel - she took it upon herself to build her nest in the next door neighbours yard instead of taking to the coop nests when the rest of her broody sisters did. Hanno found her there with five eggs. Cocobelle is our prima donna, Martha is a slow and gentle mother, Heather is the individual with her feathered pants and puffy face, and she is as game as Ned Kelly. I have never seen our chooks just as egg producers, although that is their primary function. They also entertain us, eat every bug they find and teach us that birds of a feather do not always flock together.