Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Flock of Velociraptors...

I'm not convinced these are any better, but will have to do. An iPhone is not great in taking action pix and my girls refuse to stay still.


Canasta, eyeing up a bug on her perch

Scrabble

Jenga

Canasta and Scrabble debugging my patio

Jenga and Scrabble scratching over the patio bed for me

Polly

I am trying not to adore them too much and failing. There is still time for them to show their true colours and grow into manly cocks. They are so sweet though. The little brown ones, Canasta and Scrabble seem more like road-runners than chickens in the way they are so sleek and dart around. 

I handle them in the afternoon and before they roost and they are becoming less and less panicked by me now. They have my measure now. 

Yesterday, when I tackled the last of the nettles in the woodpile, they came when called to scratch and peck under my feet. Rummy had gone a-galavanting and so we were all far more relaxed. I'd call to them and they'd drift on over to me. I didn't do an awful lot yesterday, only a couple of barrow-full of weeds, which I left in piles. I couldn't be arsed to get the barrow out again, once my eaves have been repaired (there's a man fixing them now) I'll haul them onto the bonfire. When I was done ,I went in and sat down I could still see them. I'd left the greenhouse door open to get some fresh air in there, and after awhile they all drifted in of their own accord. No need to chase them down waving a big stick. Awesome.

Supervising them, as Z pointed out, is a bit like a Joyce Grenfell sketch "George don't do that." 

Rummy is getting over the fact I'm so horrible to him and not letting him eat them. He still would though. I wouldn't trust him with them as far as I can throw a plastic pot, which I did have to end up doing when we were out en masse earlier in the week. I think it's now jealousy on his part. Being that I'm his human and he is not entirely happy that he has to share me with Boy or Dave; four chirping velociraptors that like to snuggle with me in the evenings are a bit much.

Dave thinks I'm nuts. But then, he's always thought so; really no change there. He remarked that I'd failed miserably as crazy cat lady, so trying for crazy chicken lady. In his true romantic fashion he declared that he would sort out the coop. So said, so done. He's also insisting that he be the one to put it together. Yes, he's seen me in flat pack action. I remain grateful. Which reminds me, he suggested I hang old CDs up in the greenhouse to amuse the girls. I've got some kicking around here somewhere....

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

There used to be a plot...

When I crawled out of bed last Thursday, I had no intentions in my head other than getting up to see to the Menagerie. I did that, pottered around for a bit and then next thing I know, I was talking Wince, Z's gardener into helping me kidnap two of the adolescent chicks to help me turn over a garden bed. Since I arrived here last year and have been dealing with Z's velociraptors, I've been saying how much I'd like some of my own. I was only 'borrowing' them. Three glasses of red wine later I agreed to relieve Z of another two velociraptors. 

The full extent of my folly is gradually coming home to roost. 

I popped the original two in my greenhouse. I have been gradually attacking the garden and I let Mona and Polly out for a run around while I slashed and hacked my way through the nettles and bindweed.  I realised that I had more of a chance winning the lottery than getting the two back into their small box. A bit of ingenuity on my part and I shooed them into the greenhouse. 

Z and I talked over several cups of tea that night.

I wanted a cockerel for my little flock. I've seen how lovely their father is in that he's so protective and is really quite sweet. Given that there are cats and other creatures around that would make a quick snack of them, I figured that would be a good idea. 

Until it was pointed out, that with two flocks in close proximity, he'd be over the fence looking to steal/impregnate/fight for dominance over Z's flock. Cocks can also be incredibly stroppy and go for the hand that feeds them. I was still willing to risk it.

Yesterday, as agreed I acquired the other two and that's when the trouble started. The original pair ganged up on the newbies and made the little brown hen's (her name is Canasta) life a misery. It was clear that Mona was actually Mono and the new speckled hen, could go either way. Z was very concerned that I was getting attached to them both. Two cocks in a flock of four are out of the question; it would be pandemonium. I slept on it.

This morning, I asked Z if I could give back Mono. 

I would love to keep him, but with he and Polly ganging up on Canasta, the dynamic is too aggressive. Also, the fact of the matter is: I don't know where I'm going to be living in 2-3 years. While I might be able to get away with four cute hens in most residential areas, three hens and a cockerel waking everyone up at the crack of dawn would push most people past Reasonable and straight into Litigious. I don't want to build up the flock. If in a few years time I'm living in the middle of nowhere, I can get a cock then. People are desperate to get rid of them. It would also make sense in case they get lucky and have a clutch. 

Z agreed. It turns out she was also worried about that. This morning I gave back Mono and "borrowed" another little brown hen, she's Canasta's egg sister, I've named her Scrabble. Peace reigns. Polly is still top hen, but she's less aggressive without Mono backing her up. Canasta and Scrabble said hello and cuddled when they met, the two of them are ridiculously cute together. The speckled one is a bit shy, but is gradually becoming more adventurous. I'm really hoping that's a she. I'm a bit reluctant to name her yet until I'm confident she doesn't need to be despatched. 

I made the greenhouse a little more chicken friendly today and will go through and have cuddles with them in a bit. Rummy is beside himself that I'm not letting him eat them. Mama Cass the barn cat mother on the other hand, was outraged that I let four chicks into my house but refused to let her in. As I garden, the girls mill about doing what velociraptors do best: scratch, crap and eat snails & bugs. Mama Cass was determined she was going to have chick for dinner and rushed at them several times despite my shouts and gesticulations. My patience snapped when she went for Rummy, I swatted her. She spent the night with her face pressed to the greenhouse door trying to figure out how to get in. We are friends again today, but according to Z she's been a bit upset by it all. The chicks will grow up soon enough and the threat from the cats will diminish, so they'll be able to roam around without constant supervision. 

In the meantime, I've hauled my bodyweight in weeds to the bonfire. I'm not even half way done. No matter, as long as the weather is dry I can continue to make inroads. As I said to Z, it makes no difference where I start or how much I do, the task is so large the order becomes irrelevant. I'm already thinking about what I want to grow next year. I've got a couple of veg boxes already in my bit. Now I know the garden, I can plan for colour and produce. It's very satisfying work. It makes me happy.
camera shy Canasta & Scrabble, egg sisters

Polly, the daughter of the most rebellious of the velociraptors
(yes, I really wanted her)

The yet un-named speckled bantam, a bit timid and gorgeous

These pix are diabolical. I'll go take some more and upload them. Sorry about that.