29 December 2015

There’s been a lot of indignation in the chook run. We bought four new little chickens on Sunday, two New Hampshires (chestnut brown, with a few black feathers in the tail) and two Andalusians (one black, one blue ie silvery-grey). They spent the first night in the old chook house – the little, pre-fab cutesy house that’s never been the same since the pig escaped from next door and headed for the chook food. The front door doesn’t really shut properly and the grass has taken over completely since the chooks moved to their new industrial-strength run. Nevertheless, with a bit of urgent weeding and displacing of spiders we made it liveable and the chickens quickly made it their home, snuggling down together in the nesting box in a delightful huddle of chestnut and black feathers.

Yesterday we fenced off a portion of the chook run and put the chickens in, along with their food bowl and water. The two old chooks were horrified. Even, terrified. They cackled loudly, crankily, for the rest of the day. It was the same noise they had made the day there was a brown snake in the run. The noise only stopped when the chickens all nestled together under the pomegranate tree for a siesta and were no longer visible. In the evening we caught the chickens and put them back in the pre-fab house.

This morning we put them in their section of the run again. The cackling started at once, but didn’t persevere for long. The older chooks even allowed themselves a peek at the enemy, and moved around their run more normally rather than running past any area where they could see the upstarts. But when we went to check on progress this afternoon we found the two New Hampshires had made their way into the main run, their quiet cheeping giving away their position. They were tucked into the long grass at one end while the old chooks remained firmly at the other end, with a very determined refusal to look in THAT direction. Later, at dusk, it was again the New Hampshires who appeared, striding across the lawn, having escaped the run but not having any real destination. We put down our dinner and ushered them back through the gate. They were as keen to be reunited with their Andalusian friends as we were.

The two old chooks will, according to the chicken lady, be ‘spent’ by the end of summer. For her this means they’ll be disposed of. For us, I suspect it means that they will no longer reliably lay eggs, but that they’ll fuss around the run until the grim reaper catches up with them, naturally.