There was an unfortunate incident with our chicken Sixteen of Sixteen* this morning. She has been feeling a bit more perky of late, although she still looks horrible--a few of her tail feathers are growing back, but a patch of her skull the size of a nickel is visible and her neck skin is healing in grotesque lumps. Nonetheless, she charged out the door of her box when I opened it to change her scratch and water, and clearly did not want to go back in. I deferred worrying about it: the other fifteen birds had already dispersed throughout the yard and were busy gathering the morning's bugs, and Sixteen of Sixteen, though she didn't want to be caught, also didn't want to leave the coop. I went and saw to the next stations on the feed list, the goats in the garden and then the goats in the play castle. The fifteen other chooks seemed to be very happy scratching around the sheep pens, well away from the chicken coop, their alien minds more on worms than murder.
When I was feeding the goats in the castle, I heard the alarmed calls of an abused chicken. I dropped what I was doing and saw that a dozen chickens had converged on Sixteen of Sixteen and were chasing her around. She would occasionally stumble, and couple of birds would jump on top of her. Her screams grew more intense, and when I finally reached her, she was trapped in a corner of a fence, screaming and being vigorously pecked by the bird who was standing on top of her. It was Fifteen of Sixteen.
I was able to remove Fifteen of Sixteen (who, curiously, seemed to be in a mental state similar to that of a hen sitting on eggs; normally, she's a bit flighty, but allowed me to pick her up and had the same mental vacancy of a setter) and throw her as far away as I could. Sixteen of Sixteen was a bit shocky, so didn't offer any resistance to being picked up. Her neck, which was scarring up, was once again raw and bleeding. She's back in protective custody.
Alien minds. Maybe, when they were all chicks, they did a dramatic reenactment of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", and it just got out of hand.
*Like Seven of Nine, though I never followed this show.