I have to admit to being distressed by our chickens. I am pleased to report that although I enjoy their ridiculously pompous feathery strutting and posturing, I am still able to see them as the livestock they are rather than pets. We named this first six and so they’ll be parent hens to our meat broods rather than destined for the plate. However, in fair Hampshire, where we lay our scene, fowl play is afoot. Our four ex-battery rescue hens were the first to arrive at the smallholding and they clearly feel that this is a case of finders, keepers. Ever since we brought home our two posh white hens, the two factions have regarded each other with barely-concealed hostility. All the hen anti-peck spray in the world hasn’t helped them get on and our two poor little whites go about in a pair all the time, being harried and bullied by the mean browns. I’m at a loss as to what to do. They’ve got a massive paddock to free range in, and they do snuggle together on cold nights in the hen house, so I honestly can’t see what could be wrong. But the poor whites are constantly pecked and chased away from the food hopper and occasionally just chased for sport (as far as I can see). I cannot imagine that chickeny peace is liable to settle any time soon (and it’s been months now!). Do any of you have any ideas how we can get them to tolerate each other a little better because I feel so very sorry for the poor white hens. It never occurred to me that chickens would have such a strong social order – I always thought that the pecking order referred to who got the most corn, not to actual physical meanness! Mr Land has suggested that we eat the problem, but given that we’ve named them now, I think I’d struggle with that. This homestead really comes with a steep learning curve.