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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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Head on crash

We have taken pity on the lawn.  When it was time for the Cluckers to have their afternoon treat, we had got into the habit of throwing things onto the grass. Unfortunately, a summer of being scratched and pecked by over-zealous chickens, bent on finding every last piece of whatever-it-was, had left several bare patches.   We decided to give the lawn a break and plonk goodies on the paved path and the patio flag stones instead.

With winter fast approaching, we have been putting down lots of little heaps of mixed corn, dried mealworms and sunflower seeds.   We want the flock to fatten up a bit before the really cold weather arrives.

There is plenty for everyone; each chicken can have its very own, exclusive heap.  But what happens?   They all want to munch the same heap!  Wily old Tu-Tu always stays put; that way she has a whole row of heaps all to herself.

I always pick Pom-Pom up and deposit her at the pile which is furthest away from everyone else.  If I didn't, she would spend all her time running away.  Whenever she catches sight of Rebecca, she scoots off in the opposite direction.  Chasing Pom-Pom may be the furthest thing from Rebecca's mind, but the little Poland dashes off anyway - just in case.

Fizz spotted Pom-Pom chomping away on her own and decided to join her.   She didn't mind at all, but an unexpected problem presented itself.     The predicament took the form of their crests.  They collided if both chickens tried to eat simultaneously.

Two necks would stretch forward, each aiming for a tasty mealworm or a piece of barley, but neither beak could quite reach it.  As a result of their combined bounteous feather arrangements, if they both tried to eat at the same time, neither could get close enough to grab anything.  Their crests met and held their heads apart.  As a result, a cosy beak-to-beak supper was quite impossible.

Following this year's moult, Fizz's crest is rather more lavish than it has been in the past.  Pom-Pom's has always resembled the 60's Dusty Springfield bouffant hairdo I used to have. (My hair was so rigid from all the lacquer I used in those days, that had you dropped me on my head my skull would have been undamaged).

In the end, the pair of them gave up and wandered off to find alternative stockpiles to demolish independently.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A tribute to Titian

This has been a difficult blog to make myself write.  We have lost Titian.

She became unwell and after visits to the vet and phone consultations, she was diagnosed with heart failure.  She was clearly deteriorating and the vet said it would get worse and become very distressing for her.  So we had her put to sleep.

As you can imagine, No. 1 Son and I were very upset - she was from our original flock.  Then yesterday an odd thing happened.  For the first time ever, I found myself sharing the village bus shelter with two pullets.  And furthermore they both looked remarkably like Titian when she was young.  I stood quietly so that they didn't get scared, they decided I was harmless and continued poking around in the dead leaves.

As I watched them, I couldn't help remembering Titian and her antics over the years; before long I found myself smiling.

Her most enduring, and endearing, characteristic was her chattering.   The first thing she did when she got up in the morning was to have a drink.  The second was to come over and fill you in on all the latest gossip.  Woe betide you if you let your attention wander!  She knew and would tug on your trouser leg to bring your attention back to what she was saying.   Only when she'd finished telling you what you needed to know, would she go and eat her breakfast.

The day after Titian died, for the first time in her life Maggie came out of the coop when I opened up and straight over to me.  She muttered a quick "Good morning.  You all right?" and then headed for the food dish.  She hasn't done it again, but I appreciated the gesture.

Titian was a slow, ponderous hen on the whole.  Place a tasty morsel in front of her and she would gaze lovingly at it, apparently anticipating its flavour with each of her 24 taste buds, one by one.   She rarely got to find out if her anticipation was matched by the reality.  One of her companions invariably dived in and scoffed said morsel before Titian's beak got anywhere near it.

There was one time, though, when she got what she wanted.   Maggie walked past her and rather rudely dropped a poo just in front of Titian, before joining the rest of the flock on the lawn.  There, sitting on the edge of Maggie's whoopsie was a piece of corn.  Complete.  Undigested.  Only one previous, careful owner.   Titian gave it her usual measured consideration, then ate it!   Well she couldn't let it go to waste, could she?

She gave Pom-Pom a very hard time when the little Poland first arrived in the flock.  One evening she decided to give everyone else a hard time too.  She went to bed early and positioned herself on the perch, just inside the pop hole.  As each chicken entered the coop, Titian pecked them on the head.  Once pecked, the chicken was then allowed to go and roost without being molested further.  Maybe she was doing my job for me and counting them in.  Who knows?  She certainly never duplicated this performance.

She was highly strung as a young hen, but nevertheless found a great way to relax and enjoy herself.  We had left a full bag of wood chips leaning in the corner of the run, so it would be handy when we needed to top up.   The bag itself was plastic and very slippery when wet, as you can imagine.  This suited Titian's purpose admirably.   She would jump onto the side of the wet bag and slide down the front.  Then she would repeat the process several times until she got bored and wandered off. I often wondered why none of the others joined her, but they never did.

Like most chickens she loved her dustbath, but woe betide anyone who was bathing in the spot she wanted.  She was our largest hen and used her bulk to advantage to shift the offender.  She would sit as close to the guilty party as possible and start her ablutions, while gradually moving sideways and pushing the other chicken out of "her" spot.   She always won.

Right from the start Titian aspired to the role of Chicken-In-Chief.  Unfortunately she was never able to work out how to make the climb from middle ranker to top of the heap.  Being such a slowcoach, by the time she'd developed a strategy, someone else had bagged the position.

Titian was not a lap hen and hated even being stroked.  It took her most of her life to work out that if we leaned towards her with an outstretched hand, all she had to do was run away, not squat to submit to one quick stroke.  On second thoughts, maybe it was just as well she didn't like sitting on our laps.  In later life she developed the habit of letting off totally silent, but world-class smelly farts!   She would stand at our feet, let rip, then assume an air of injured innocence as she walked away.

Our Rhode Island Red may have been a bit of a bird-brain, but the gal sure was a looker!  Her abundant deep auburn feathers gleamed in the sun and even shone in the shade.

We miss Titian.  We can't get used to counting seven chickens instead of eight.   But we are so very glad we had her in our lives.