|Titian having a snooze by the summerhouse|
Tu-Tu is our oldest chicken - she must be, because she laid eggs from the day she arrived in our chicken coop; it was quite some time before the others joined in. But I suspect that Titian is much older - well mentally anyway.
She still looks just as beautiful as she ever did. She's a lovely rich reddish-brown colour (if you ignore the white feather near her bum) and her feathers are glossy and sleek. So what if the odd little bunch of feathers stick out at peculiar angles and who is going to notice the occasional light brown one dotted about here and there.
And this girl has a mind of her own. Last year she remembered that Rhode Island Reds are dual-purpose birds, being both meat and egg producers. So although she had laid gorgeous big brown eggs in her first year, last year she didn't bother much. I don't think she actually intended that we should stuff her with lemons and stick her in the oven. I suspect she was just making a point, in her own inimitable fashion.
She's returned to prolific egg laying again now. These days her eggs are still brown, but that's where the similarity with her early eggs stops. Her current products are half the size they were before and each of them has a cute pointy top. The shells are paper-thin too. It doesn't matter what we feed her to try and thicken them up a bit, they remain stubbornly fragile.
Maybe she's just decided to make sure we don't eat too much fried stuff. If you break her eggs into a frying pan you discover that although the yolks are nice and big, there's not much white and what there is, is watery and sticks tenaciously to the pan. We've learned to scramble all Titian's eggs. For one thing it's safer breaking them over a bowl. You may end up with bits of shell in there too, but at least Titian's eggs aren't draped across the kitchen counter and dripping onto the floor that's just been washed.
She's only three, so in real terms she's a middle-aged Rhode Island Red, not an old girl at all. But just as some people are old at 25, I rather imagine the same applies to other creatures too. Maybe Titian falls into that category.