I pottered down to the allotment this evening for a quick visit, just to collect eggs and check on the chickens. I was totally unprepared for the carnage that greeted me on my arrival.
As I walked down the back path, I pondered the loveliness of the weather, despite being windy, the sun was out and the sky a beautiful shade of blue. As I arrived at the new coop, I counted the chickens. Odd. One short. So I counted again – chickens are superb at moving when you need them to stay still. Still one short. I looked everywhere, in the nest box, around the run but the little millefleur was nowhere to be seen. Increasingly, I was panicking that we had lost another chicken. Sometimes when we have lost a hen, someone will pop into the coop, retrieve the body and let me know. But I hadn’t received any calls or messages telling me that we had lost a chicken. So I kept searching.
The fourth time I searched around the coop, I noticed an egg in a strange place. It was half buried in the far corner of the coop. This was rather strange. The bantam girls always lay in the nest box. Always. So why suddenly was there an egg there? Initially, I could see no reason why it would have been laid there. Following Sherlock Holmes’ advice, after searching in all the obvious places, whatever is left, no matter how unlikely, must be the spot. Accordingly, I turned over the Omlet Glug drinker to find the millefleur in it. To be more precise, stuck in it. The idiotic bird had managed to crawl in, probably to lay her egg, then realised she couldn’t get out. Trying not to howl with laughter at her antics, I picked up the drinker and sat outside the coop, wondering how on earth I was going to get her out of it.
She was properly wedged with very little room to manoeuvre forwards, backwards or sideways. After several attempts at trying to wriggle her out backwards and forwards without any luck, I decided to call gravity to my aid. I managed to wriggle her backwards so that she had some turning room in front of her before upending the drinker and slowly manipulated her out inch by inch. With a flourish, out she came, landing daintily on the ground. I checked her over to see if she had any injuries which thankfully she didn’t. Giving her a severe reprimand, I deposited her back into the run with the others. Before I left, I made sure to remove the Omlet drinker to avoid a repeat of this ridiculous incident.
Relieved that the millefleur was safe, I moved onto the main coop. With the bin lid, I fended off Tommy who seemed quite upset for some reason. I quickly discovered why. In the corner by the ramp was a white feathery body. Poor Alba, she was such a lovely bird and I had such high hopes for her to be an excellent broody just like Emily was. Judging from the colour of her comb which was a purpleish-blue, it was probably heart failure. After owning chickens for the best part of a decade, I know that some live longer than others. But the inescapable unwritten allotment law seems to be that if you lose on chicken, you’ll lose another shortly afterwards. No wonder Tommy was upset. He now only has 4 girls and with Bird Flu restrictions still in place, I don’t know when I will be able to get hold of some large fowl for Tommy’s flock.
Rather despondent, I headed off to the Omlet where thankfully, all the Little Weed Destroyers were belligerently yelling at me for treats. I’ve only had bantams a short while but I do love their big personalities and the fact they typically live longer than large fowl. Maude and Mavis being two excellent examples of this – we have had them for nearly a year, Phil had them for at least two to three years before us and before that, Bentley Mick had them for several years. By my reckoning they are at least eight years old and are loving life in their retirement coop.
In the greenhouse, the plants are still growing well and I think I will need to pot on the peas in the next couple of days at the rate they are going! As I locked up the gate, I wondered about Leia, Alba and the other chickens we have had over the years, each with their own personalities and quirks (some more than others – Emily, Pop and Evie spring to mind!). Trying to cheer myself up, I started to go through the list of chicken breeds we have had and ones I would like to have. I guess my husband should probably have a say in this as he eats the majority of the eggs…