Whilst you read this, please have the tune of the Great Escape playing in your head…
The sun was out, the sky was blue and cheerfully I headed out to the allotment. When I arrived, I discovered Geoff, Cliff and Michael busy putting the world to rights. I joined them for a quick chat before heading down to feed the chickens. In all the coops, everyone was busy scratching and preening. As I walked up to the shed, I heard a bang followed by Cliff giving an loud exclamation. Geoff called across asking if he was alright, an affirmative reply came from the chicken coop.
Enjoying the weather, I walked around the bottom of Geoff and Cliff’s plots and ambled up to towards Cliff’s chicken coop. Ahead of me, something feathery and brown was blocking the path. It took a few seconds to work out what I was seeing. Blocking the path, looking rather smug were half a dozen of Cliff’s chickens. I shouted to Cliff that some of his girls were out. Fortunately, he knew. Apparently the wind has blown open the coop door while he was inside cleaning out the nest box. Seizing the opportunity, six of his girls had made a successful dash for the door!
With Cliff standing one side of the path, I sprinted around the end of his plot to come at the from the top. Slowly, with arms spread wide, I attempted to corral them towards the open coop door. Needless to say, they were having none of it. People say herding cats is difficult, but clearly these people have never tried to get half a dozen loose chickens into a coop against their will! By this point, they had spread across the top of Cliff’s plot, weaving artfully between fruit trees and hiding underneath a bench. One particular hen had the bright idea to jump into Cliff’s pond. Wherein, it suddenly gave a frantic cluck as it realised it can’t swim and loathes the water. Thirty seconds of panicked flapping and shrieks, saw it balance itself on the edge of the pond for long enough for Geoff to catch it. One down, five to go.
It took quite a long time to persuade the other four to get back onto the path. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an Exchequer Leghorn making a sneaky escape behind the back of Cliff’s coop. Leaving Geoff and Cliff trying to catch the other four, I headed off to catch the errant Leghorn. Now, there are many advantages to having leghorns, excellent layers, delicious large eggs and brilliant broody hens. But they have one significant drawback. They have ridiculously long legs and can run like Usain Bolt over 400m with the added agility of a cheetah when changing direction. As I sprinted past Geoff’s coop and around the corner back onto Cliff’s plot, I swore I would never own one of these irritatingly speedy birds.
Somewhat disoriented, she stopped by the side of Geoff’s coop and started to peck at the wire, clearly trying to get inside. So desperate, in fact, that she didn’t notice me sneaking up behind her. Swooping down, I grabbed her and tucked her under my arm. As you can imagine, this act was not approved of and she shouted at me for my insolence. Holding her firmly, I put her back in Cliff’s coop, breathing a sigh of relief.
But our work was not yet over, three hens were still out. With Cliff on one side of the coop door, Geoff on the other, I slowly walked behind the girls, nudging them slowly towards the open coop door. Finally, the girls seemed to have enough, and one by one, they followed each other towards the coop, hopping lightly over the threshold. Cliff quickly closed the door and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief!
To celebrate, we headed back to the main path for a well deserved cup of tea and biscuit courtesy of Cliff.