By Margo True, Sunset Food Editor

Sunset imaging specialist Kimberley Burch, water pistol in hand, guards Honey (center, with tiny, pecked comb).

We last visited the sorority from hell (aka the Sunset henhouse) about 3 weeks ago. Honey was getting mercilessly pecked by at least a couple of the other chickens, to the extent that she'd taken near-permanent refuge in the nest box and had to be picked up by hand and deposited in the chicken yard to eat and drink. At the suggestion of a helpful former chicken-raiser, we've recently tried two new tactics: applying a paste of Dr Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Soap to Honey's chewed-up comb (in the hopes that its nasty taste would act as a repellent) and squirting the attacking chickens with a water gun. It seemed to work. At least they squawked in surprise and retreated.

Alas, maintaining a round-the-clock squirt detail isn't possible. And Honey seems too terrorized to risk a foray to food and water on her own without a human protector. The pecking looks like it's continuing, even with the soap. Meanwhile, Honey gets lighter and lighter... we'll have to think of something else fast, before she just collapses into a heap of feathers. Readers, any and all suggestions welcome!

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