Bathtime for Bantams

After running a few errands around town this morning, I walked to the allotment wondering whether the rain would hold off. There had been intermittent heavy showers all morning. As soon as I arrived, I set up the stove and let the weed destroyers out. Sitting watching them is always fun and it’s lovely to see how much better they are getting on now. Foxy is still quite timid but she joins in with the other two. As they were scratching, I noticed that Trixy has several mud clumps attached around her feet. This is an issue for breeds with feathery feet and I regularly check Trixy and Foxy for feet issues. Whilst the run is predominantly dry, there are damper areas which they seem to enjoy digging in.

So grabbing the saucepan, I filled it with water and warmed it on the stove. It’s such an efficient stove that within a few minutes it was at the right temperature. I poured it into a bucket with some cold water and went to get Trixy. Needless to say, she did not appreciate her bath. Almost instantly she launched herself out of it, covering me in water as she did so. Using one hand to wash her feet and feathers, I had to use the other to hold her in the bucket. Once most of the mud had been washed off, I took her out and wrapped her in a clean tea towel to dry her off. Still distinctly unimpressed, she did let me dry her feathers for a while before deciding enough was enough. Launching herself off my lap, narrowly avoiding the lit stove, she dashed down the main path towards Roxy. Almost exactly the same thing happened with Foxy and the bath. By now, I was soaked but with Foxy curled up in the towel, next to a warm stove, we enjoyed a cuddle together.

As I was helping Foxy dry off, I spotted the dark band of cloud moving in fast. Knowing how long feathers take to dry, I was worried that both girls might get too cold. Quickly, I rotated the Omlet around and spent several minutes chivvying the trio into the coop. As soon as Trixy and Foxy were in they headed to the nest box and refused to move for the next hour. I assumed they were sulking. That’s gratitude for you I guess!

The clouds just kept getting darker and I knew it wouldn’t be longer before the heavens opened yet again. I took the food bowl from the Omlet down to the main coop to refill it. When I was inside, I managed to corner poor Hattie who has been looking increasingly scruffy. Her feathers on her back are getting rather threadbare thanks to Tommy seemingly preferring her to any of the other girls. Personally, I think it’s because Tommy is scared of all the others who will quite happily chase him off with a sharp peck or two. Browsing online for solutions, I had come across chicken saddles. I appreciate this sounds utterly ridiculous. Surely they could have used a different word? One that doesn’t conjure up an image of a chicken being ridden on like you would a horse. But I digress! Using a pattern I found online and some scrap fabric at home, I had made a saddle for Hattie. The fabric provides protection for her feathers when Tommy is feeling amorous. It is kept in place by two small loops of elastic which fit over the wing joints. I also thought the mere presence of the saddle might put Tommy off. What I didn’t expect was how the other girls reacted to her when it was on. It seemed like they thought Hattie was a different chicken. Tommy was also confused but then, it takes very little to confuse him.

All chickens in all coops fed, eggs collected and fresh water out, I retreated to the shed. After enjoying a drink, I walked down to the main coop and spotted a familiar feathery face. It was the lost racing pigeon who, with Alan’s help, I had decided to call Percy. Percy was strutting around the cage that I had left out. Unfortunately, despite Percy going into the cage for corn, I couldn’t shut the door fast enough and he got away each time. But there’s always next time especially when he knows the cage always has a steady supply of corn…

Before I left, I opened the Omlet and checked on Trixy and Foxy. Trixy had decided to hog the nest and was pretty much dry. Foxy still looked rather damp but I was happy knowing they were inside a dry and warm nest box. The real question is, how long will it take for them to forgive me for bathing them? My guess is mere minutes as long as I have their favourite treats…

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