This is my blog about the day to day lives of my little flock of pet chickens. They're a happy little flock, although they're totally crackers! If you want a laugh, they'll gladly give you one.


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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A wake up call

No. 1 Son is away on a well-deserved holiday, so the task of opening the chicken coop at some unearthly hour every morning has fallen to me recently.   And I am not a morning person.

Off I staggered this morning, opened them up, fed them and replenished their water.  I half listened to Titian giving me the latest gossip while I poo-picked.  The flock looked fit, healthy and were tucking into their breakfast with gusto.  All was well with their world, so I left them to it.

We have a padlock on their run gate, which is kept locked.   I carefully turned the key, pocketed it and went back to the house for a nice cup of tea.

If I just want to just check on the chickens, rather than sitting in the garden with them, there's a part of the fence I can lean on.  It allows me to look down into the run without actually having to go into the run itself.  So after breakfast I decided to go and have a quick peep at them.   I was horrified to discover that they were all missing!  Every - single - one.

The run gate was closed, so they had obviously been stolen by someone hoping to leave the place looking perfectly normal to the casual glance.   I raced down into the garden, dreading what I might find.  One part of me hoped and hoped they were all just being silly and were simply hiding in the smoking shelter.  But why would they do that?

I ran down the steps, rounded the corner and ..........  There they were - clustered together on my side of the gate, patiently waiting to be let back in!   I opened the gate, they stampeded back inside and headed straight for their food dishes.

I bet you're wondering how this could have happened, aren't you.  Well I did mention that I am not a morning person.  Please bear that in mind.

When I left the chicken run, as I've mentioned I carefully locked the padlock that secures the gate.   What I did not do, in my somnambulant state, was slide the bolt across first.  Neither did I close the bolt at the bottom.  So the gate was not secured in any way at all, even though it was closed!

After I had returned home and was supping my first cuppa of the day, along came a gust of wind and blew the gate open.   "Whoopee" chorused the Cluckers and made a dash for Freedom.   Then that perfidious wind blew the gate shut and they were all stuck outside.   They had a whale of a time!   They had access to all the places they are not usually allowed to visit.

So I now have pebbles from the path and one of the borders strewn all over the patio area.     My lawn is adorned with bark that originally surrounded the dwarf fruit trees.  These trees are now surrounded by the holes the chickens dug with gay abandon.  It's a similar story in the rose bed, except that the bark from that area is mostly covering the steps I had raced down earlier.

For some odd reason they left the daffodil bed and another flower bed alone.  I suspect they would have got round to them later, but someone heard me coming.   That was the signal for them to rush over and huddle round the gate looking forlorn and innocent.

Maggie missed out on all this.  She had gone into the coop to lay an early morning egg and was still there when I ushered everyone back into the run.  However she did come out to see what all the kerfuffle was about.   Unfortunately she left the nest box a shade too soon.  Her egg hadn't had time to dry before she stood up and walked away.  Consequently, it was stuck to her abundant Orpington bum feathers.   It looked very decorative, but I thought I'd better remove it before it got broken.

So today I have learned the hard way:  when you are solely responsible for looking after the pets you write about all the time - WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 22 April 2013

“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.” *

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will be well aware that Fizz harbours a secret passion for Titian.   Well, not all that secret if I'm honest.

Fizz being a handsome bantam

Time and time again, Fizz has fluttered his wings and danced up to the chicken of his dreams, only to have those dreams shattered.  To say he's been spurned, rebuffed and rejected would be putting it mildly.   He's been on the receiving end of furious glares.   He's had his beak pecked.   He's been thwacked into the middle of next week.   Any other suitor would have given up long ago, but not Fizz.

Titian is big, beautiful and twice Fizz's size.

It was such a lovely sunny day yesterday that we took our tea down into the garden, opened the run gate and let the chickens out to ruin the lawn.  Before too long, Titian decided that a nap was in order.  She found a nice warm spot in the dust bath area, made herself really comfy in the soft warm earth and snuggled down.  It had the benefit of warmth radiating off the dry stone wall, which she faced so she could enjoy the extra heat.

It didn't take long before her eyes drooped shut.  It took only a little longer than that for Fizz to realise that his golden opportunity had finally, finally arrived!   Before any of us realised what was happening he had raced over and jumped on Titian's back.  It took a fair bit of skilful manoevering because as well as being taller than him, Titian is quite a bit longer too.   But the lad actually managed to get the right bits of their joint anatomies in the right places.  Bingo!

Titian was so astounded by this unexpected interruption to her snooze that she simply stood up looking dazed - losing Fizz, who slid off.

But it just goes to prove, doesn't it, that dreams can come true.

 * Albert Einstein

Friday, 19 April 2013

Getting stuck in

No. 1 Son commented today that I seem to have a lot more grey in my hair.  Given Maggie's stunt on Tuesday, this is hardly surprising.

It was a nice sunny afternoon for a change and we'd all spent a happy hour or so in the garden.   I know Maggie was out there because I'd watched her and her best mate Tu-Tu meandering round the garden together.  Anyway, I'd counted them all out hadn't I, and she certainly wasn't missing then.

The two old biddies exchanging gossip

However, when it came to counting them all back in at close of play, I discovered I only had 7 chickens instead of the 8 I had started with.   A quick look round the garden soon confirmed that nobody had been left outside.

Convinced she had quietly popped in to lay an egg, I checked the nest box.  No Maggie.  Nor was she in the caged area below.   Then we spotted the daft old biddy stuck fast behind the spare coop.  

She's not the exploring type, but she does love her food.  So my guess is she spotted a solitary piece of corn back there, or maybe a tomato seed and thought "That's for me!".   Having squeezed and pushed her way in, she then found she could move neither forward nor backward.   Luckily we came along fairly soon after and No. 1 Son moved the coop so she could escape.   She had to make her way out backwards (most undignified), but at least no harm had been done.  

We've now blocked each end so further exploration by any of my daft flock is impossible.  But I bet they are plotting how they can add further grey hairs to my collection, even as I'm typing this!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Doing one's duty

It appears that Fizz is finally taking his role as a cockerel seriously - sort of.  I'm talking about leadership qualities here; he's taken bonking seriously ever since he learned how to do it from Rocky (an Araucana cockerel, junior to Fizz, who used to live with us).

I used the words "leadership qualities".  On reflection, "escort duties" might be a bit more accurate.  Or do I mean .............. oh never mind, make your own mind up when you've read the blog.

It started at the weekend.  The pophole was opened and as usual out shot Rebecca, immediately followed by Mad Irene.  Then Fizz danced down the ramp.  Obviously he'd spotted the early birds and, being a Marvin Gaye fan, had decided to give them a little "Sexual Healing".

He got to the bottom of the ramp and realised that there were only two girls.  Good gracious, he couldn't manage on just the two!   In any case, he'd never been able to persuade our Light Sussex that she loved shorter men.  So he danced back up the ramp and into the coop.   There was a bit of a kerfuffle, then out stomped Tu-Tu looking more than a little hacked off.  Fizz followed close behind her.   As soon as he was certain she was safely downstairs, he turned and went back up again.

This time the air went blue, so he was obviously tackling Punk.   There was a heck of a ruction before she made an appearance.  She stood for a moment in the pophole, might even have turned round and gone back to bed.  But Fizz was having none of it.  So she flounced down the ramp and headed for the nearest food dish.

Back up the ramp strode our tireless little cockerel, only to come beak to beak with a very bleary-eyed Maggie at the top, whose beauty sleep had been ruined by the noise.   What Fizz wanted to do was get behind her and give her an encouraging push.  But being a bantam Orpington, Maggie has enough feathers to fill a duvet.  So there's no getting past her.   She began her slow, stately progress down the ramp.   Fizz had no option but to descend too - backwards.

At that point, Fizz gave up and didn't even bother Pom-Pom.  Something similar happened last year, so maybe waking the girls and making them get up is going to become an annual event.

A few days later he thought of another angle to try.   He'd escort them to the nest box when they wanted to lay an egg.   He decided to practice with Rebecca.   The trouble was, Rebecca didn't want to lay an egg right then.   So although she was happy to go for a walk into the coop with him, she turned round and walked straight back out again.   He followed.  That wasn't what he had in mind at all!   So he ushered her back in.   She immediately led the way out.

Things weren't going according to plan at all.  Well, not the original plan.  But then he spotted Maggie standing knee-deep in one of Irene's craters - the perfect height for a bonk!  So he did his cockerel duty and felt so much better for it.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Irene is on the case!

I'm convinced that our chickens' main aim in life is to provide us with laughs, no matter how cold and miserable we and the weather may be.   Eggs are simply a secondary by-product.

The flock had been let out of their run for a while so that they could either dig up or eat the lawn, depending on their inclination.   A series of little heaps of corn were placed along the pavement too.   The leftover corn was thrown into the upper half of the run, partly to give Pom-Pom a chance to have a quiet munch on her own and partly to give everyone something to scratch around for later on.

As usual, Mad Irene was running round like the maniac she is, checking that nobody had anything that she felt she should have instead.   All of a sudden, she remembered that we had disappeared into the run.  That could only mean one thing;  we had sneaked something in there that she didn't know about!

Any normal hen would have made her way through the gate, walked along between the smoking shelter and coop, climbed the three steps and got to the top of the run in a calm, ladylike manner.  Not Irene!  No time, you see.  Must check for goodies.  Hell of a rush.   Vital she got there first!

So Irene being Irene, she roared in through the gate and decided to take a shortcut across the smoking shelter roof.   Neither timing nor elegance are strong points with this girl.  She took off a tad early, landed almost on her bottom and slithered across the corrugated plastic roof.   This meant she met with the  low fence instead of hurdling over it like poultry's answer to Sally Gunnell.    However, walloping into the fence didn't prevent her toppling over it.   She somehow landed on her tummy, but ...... oh joy!  There, just a neck stretch ahead of her, was a piece of corn.

Mission accomplished!