Initially we thought the Langshan would be the trio's leader. When we put the three of them in the carrier, she had ooched the two Sussex hens along until they were crammed up against the back wall, and she had the luxury of plenty of room left over for herself. But that's been the only time she's shown any leadership qualities. The oldest of the new lot is one of the Silver Sussex ladies (on the right of the picture), who was born in November 2013 - the other two were December chicks. Where she goes, they quickly follow.
We kept them apart from the others for nearly three weeks. They could all see each other, but were separated by fencing, both in the run and when they were out in the garden. It was during garden time that the older Sussex really showed her mettle. The full story of this period will appear in my regular column of June's "Practical Poultry" magazine; just suffice it to say she took on all-comers.
Once we let both groups mingle, the biggest problem was Fizz. Wouldn't you think he'd be delighted to welcome more ladies to his harem? But no! He saw them as aliens from another planet and kept right on attacking them. The water squirter worked overtime, I can tell you.
Things have sort of settled down now, but they all stay in two quite separate groups. The two younger newbies even gather beneath the coop to wait for the oldest Sussex while she lays her egg (she laid her first one at the farm, only an hour or so before we collected her).
The new girls have quite distinct personalities. The Langshan was obviously a model in a previous life, judging by the amount of time she spends preening and making sure she looks good at all times. When she's not preening, she's eating. Perhaps she's making up for all the times she had to diet during her modelling career. She's a very docile hen, but stunningly beautiful.
The oldest Sussex has proved herself to be a feisty madam, but she has also quickly accepted our need to cuddle her. The younger one, however, has not. This morning she took one look at me, decided she wasn't taking any chances that I might want cuddles and, from a standing start, flew 20ft (6 metres) into the field behind the garden! When a sheep started to wander across to take a closer look at her, she ran up and down wondering how to get back where she belonged. Luckily No. 1 Son was on hand to jump into the field and rescue her.
I think we're in for a lot of fun with our new feathery friends.