Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

Maud, our adorable little hen, is a wise old thing.

Maud is a “silkie” or negre soie hen.

She is usually the first out the henhouse–keen to get on with her day.

She sort of explodes out of the house, her little legs–in the cliched language so beloved and abused by politicians–hitting the ground running.

Lucette likes to arrange herself properly for the outside world; you never know who you might meet. Important to look your best at all times, especially so soon after the moulting season. The fact that on occasions she has the residue of a poo hanging off her behind is not her fault; there are no vanity mirrors in the henhouse.

Lucette is a “rumpless” hen–an Araucana–who is supposed to lay BLUE eggs–not that we’ve seen any.

This morning it was Lucette waiting on ground floor of their duplex, champing at the bit. Maud was sitting in the background showing no interest in getting out the door.

When our cats are feeling–as my mother used to say–poorly, they behave in the same way. They find a comfortable, warm, quiet spot and wait for the “annoyance” to pass.

Beau has just emerged from just such a time. He hurt himself while out doing his duty patrolling the grounds.

We don’t know if he got into a fight (he doesn’t take kindly to intruder cats) or missed a leap from branch to wall; whatever it was, it left him limping for a good month.

A home visit from an animal osteopath and some cat medication (glucosamine) helped his recovery but instinctively he knew it was a matter of time.

“Sit it out, old chum–it will pass.”

All–wise, old things.

So what was bugging Maud?

Had she spent the night on the razzle? Bad dreams of maurading foxes?

Maybe she let her “feathers” down and lit up the town–and was suffering the consequences.

One thing is sure, she wasn’t sitting on an egg–more’s the pity!

Whatever it was, it passed and by lunchtime when I checked the henhouse again, it was empty.

No Maud.

I found her under the old henhouse scratching around, reunited with her friend, getting back up to speed.

She’d done the animal thing and sat and waited for the “annoyance” to pass.

Next time I’m sick as a dog/cat/hen; I’m following Maud and sitting tight.

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The big news today is that Maud, one of our three hens, has laid her second egg.

Maud struts her stuff!

An egg to equal the first in size; a dear little egg–and all her own work.

The joy was written on Meredith’s face as she announced it in the kitchen.

We now have enough for an omelette–albeit the smallest two egg omelet in the world.

It may be more fun to poach or fry them individually and “lay” them ceremonially on a serving of the Swiss chard gratin that’s waiting to go into the oven for lunch.

The hens are new to the gaff–delivered by our dear friend and neighbour, Florence.

The hens keep us company over lunch, hoping for some tidbits!

There are two Poules Soies* (Silkies) and one slightly larger Araucana**.

The Silkies are smaller than your average hen and delightful to look at.

They pad around together, pick over the compost heap together and shelter from rain under an outdoor furniture together. Safety in numbers!

Three Sisters–our Chekhovian hens.

They don’t know how calming their pad, pad, padding and peck, peck pecking is in these troubling times. Just watching them go about their business slows the heart-rate and diverts the mind.

As the sun sets and darkness descends, they make their way–together–to the newly-created chicken-run, an improvised enclosure, constructed between two buttresses of the church. Perfect.

Inside the pen is a little hen house–lent to us by Flo–that any house-proud hen would be happy to be seen in.

A modest split-level!

In the nesting box, Meredith placed a marble egg–pour encourager les autres–and it worked!

Marble egg on the left–to encourage laying.

There’s just room for all three inside. There they huddle for the night, without a sound.

Last night though–while Amber and Lucette snoozed off–Maud was busy!

Maud’s egg (right)–small but perfect! The joy of small things!

*The Silkie is a breed of chicken originally from China, named for its atypically fluffy plumage. The breed has several other unusual qualities, such as black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot (most chickens have four). They are friendly and sociable too!

** The Araucana breed is originally from Chile and famous for laying blue eggs–though no proof of that yet!

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