Tilda spent two nights out with the others. On the second evening, I saw her eject Lotti from the Cube.. I put Lotti back in, and we ended up with Tilda and Poppy squashed together in one of the nestboxes, and Lotti in the other.
On the third morning it looked as though Tilda wasn't coming back,so I removed all the coop cups out of Tilda's apartment, and put fresh paper down (no Aubiose). I didn't dismantle the cage...just in case.
On the third evening, we had a problem.
I saw Poppy having a telepathic conversation with Custard (big fat ginger chicken, Milly's lieutenant). It was a bit weird. Custard normally pecks Poppy (and Lotti) whenever they get in range. They were standing at an angle to each other. Poppy had her head lowered (not in that "don't peck me" pose) and was nibbling stuff from Custard's front, or her wattles, I couldn't quite see. There was definitely some telepathy going on, and I wondered what they were talking about.
Then, suddenly, Poppy ran and jumped on Tilda. She did a flying-fling, Hong Kong Phooey style, a bit like Milly used to do, and landed on top of Tilda. Fortunately, unlike Milly, Poppy doesn't have spurs. There was a roll of feathers as Tilda tried to respond, and then Poppy was running and Tilda had Poppy's wing clamped in her beak. Poppy pulled free, and Tilda stood there breathing heavily.
If Tilda had been in better condition, I might have let it play out. I know they have to sort out the pecking order. However, I could see that Tilda wouldn't be able to fend off another attack - the stress might even collapse again - so I opened the run door and called her. She came out.
She spent the next hour sitting under the cherry tree by the back door, nibbling the grass. While she did so, I made up her apartment for her. Then she came in and went straight to it.
I've got really mixed feelings about this.
I was a little sad when I thought that Tilda had gone back to the flock permanently. I was going to miss having a house hen (although not miss the clearing up), but I realised that it was better for her overall.
And yesterday when she came back in, I found I was very sad that she was back - that it hadn't worked out.
I can't believe that Poppy - my lovely, gentle Poppy - carried out such a horrible attack. It doesn't bode well for future integrations, and I'm a little annoyed with myself for letting Milly influence them for so long. I had foreseen that once we'd culled Milly and the guilt of doing it had passed, I would wish we'd done it sooner - but it doesn't make it any better.
This morning, I gave Tilda her breakfast at 5.30am after I'd let the Big Girls out. At 9am, I picked her up and put her in the Paddock with the Big Girls.
I'll see what happens tonight.