Since Dolley's death, there have been a lot of changes for all of our animals. We had been worried that she, as our pluckiest chicken, would be all over the new chicks when we tried to integrate them into the flock. Because of that, we were really taking our time introducing them to the hen house and chicken run.
But now the rival groups of chickens are even in number: three big girls and three little ones. Louisa Catherine had already jumped the fence and lived to tell the tale, so we knew were getting close to bringing them together.
We let him out of his acclimation cage some time in the middle of last week, since he seemed much calmer. (Well, he was calmer until we tried to leave after feeding him: then he would throw himself around our legs and hang on for dear life. This was cute as long as you weren't wearing shorts and sandals.)
On Saturday, after he rolled over and let me rub his belly as a thank you for his breakfast (totally different cat!), I took the cover off the cat door and showed him how it worked, and he came out to sit with me on the porch of the workshop.
Turns out our tough guy is a very cautious kitty. When Fletch first got sprung from the cage, he took long tours of the neighborhood, sometimes for a couple days at a time. Cooper, on the other hand, hasn't made it past the center path. He's ever-so-gradually making bigger circles around the workshop, hen house, and bee hive.
His encounters with other animals have been hilarious.
On Saturday, he went immediately into crouch mode to stalk the chickens. Though they were safely behind chicken wire in the run, the freaked out and jumped up in a mess of flapping and feathers. That scared the daylights out of Cooper, who hightailed it back into the workshop.
This continued throughout the morning, and each time the chickens got a scare, another chick ended up hopping the fence and landing on the side of the hen house with the big hens. With a common enemy terrorizing them (and himself), the chickens were too busy to peck at each other, and they've been getting along swimmingly ever since.
So later that day we took down the chicken wire that separated them, and we've seen them all sharing food and generally accepting each other's existence with equanimity.
The bees are another story.
On Sunday we opened the hive to do our weekly check, and Cooper was all over the bees. He jumped up on the hive to look right inside, and later he sat at the entrance swatting at bees as they made their way in and out. I'm pretty sure he eventually got stung on the cheek, because he tore away fast and was licking his chops and rubbing his face for a while after that.
He also killed a mouse in the workshop, so things are going well here on the animal front as everyone adjusts to life without Dolley. If we could just get Cooper to hang out by the strawberry patch to keep the chipmunks and birds at bay, we'd be in really good shape.