My expectation is that they'll happily cluck and scratch the day away, laying the prescribed egg every 26 hours (or whatever) and generally be part of the picture of the perfect rural idyll.
But all is not well in paradise. In the Henhouse on Wheels - the 3 Mrs Browns have fallen victim to the Evil Mrs Black who rules with a beak of steel. The Eyechild's descrition of this despot is spot on:
...'Top Dog' of this cell block when the lights go out is the slightly sinister Mrs Black, a terrifying matronly bird with dark plumage, who metes out her own violent form of authority as savagely as the bosun of a 17th century naval frigate might, if they were a hen.
As the other hens sport ever more painful looking beak marks and diminish in stature, the maniacal Mrs Black prospers inversely, and walks with an ever more pronounced swagger. In ten years she'll probably be ripping up flagstones and holding tanks at bay in Parliament Square. You watch and see.'
Her regime is brutal and bloody and her more easily led 'sisters' follow suit in pecking the weakest of their number. Their victim, who these days looks not unlike a vulture, has also survived the brown dog's mouth. She's a real survivor and deserves to live. She's a good layer too.
Another house was bought and run constructed. The victim - sometimes known as 'the scraggy hen' - had a new home, a place of safety and respite. It was into this safe haven that I introduced the trio of Silver Laced Wyandot bantams bought at Builth Wells last weekend.
The three little birds had little option but to make it their home and all seems to have been reasonably harmonious. The cockerel - all mouth and trousers - strutted his stuff and asserted his authority. However this afternoon he was decidedly off-colour; hunched with feathers staring. His right eye was closed and very swollen. On closer inspection the eye has gone - I was looking at an empty socket. I think he's probably has a peck from the brown scraggy hen.
Gruesome and gory don't bother me too much but I am quite affected by the fact that I don't know what to do next. This isn't a 'Kiss it Better' situation. I bathed him with cool boiled water and put him back to see what tomorrow brings.
Please don't anyone say 'It's only a hen.'