Friday, January 05, 2007

Fowl Play

I promised back here that I’d report on the Cole chicken project and am pleased to do so today. It has proved a heady year for our poultry-keeping hobby. Back in the early summer, our two chickens, Hetty and Bella started getting broody, sitting on their eggs all the blinking time and becoming quite fierce if you took away the egg or disturbed them in any way. I suppose we could have continued putting up with this rather juvenile behaviour but instead we got hold of some fertilised eggs from a fellow fancier which we placed under our pair of birds and waited to see what happened. How exciting!

The momentous day that our first baby chick hatched is easy to recall: it was June 10th, the morning of the day that England kicked off their World Cup campaign against the doughty Paraguayans. I remember thinking, ‘Not now! I’ve an incredibly important association football match to inspect!’ Anyhow, after a week, five chicks had hatched and they were very fluffy and cute and everything a bona fide chick should aspire to. As the days passed, it transpired that four were female and just one, rejoicing in the name ‘Tweetheart’, was a strutting, haughty cockerel in the making. The good burghers of Longlevens would never allow us to keep a noisy cockerel so Tweetheart had to leave along with Peckham (named after the brave England skipper) and Angel. They went to a good home in the country.

We decided to keep a couple of hens, Pasty (named after the former Longlevens, Gloucester, Gloucestershire and England ‘A’ rugby footballer, Mark ‘Pasty’ Cornwell) and Grey Bird (a grey bird). I think Grey Bird was originally called Charlie and later became known as Dickie. They are adults now I guess and, happily, are producing eggs for us. All four in our family of hens lay practically every day so we enjoy about one hundreds eggs each month from our tiny flock. They are gorgeous eggs too and all the better because they came from happy – some would say spoilt – birds who live in our garden. Our chickens have a rectangle of land where they stroll around all day, eating and drinking and stuff before retiring to their des res Eglu or rabbit hutch. Their favourite foods are pasta (especially the variety known as 'spaghetti'), rice, cheese, worms and grass although they mainly consume something called layers’ mash. They drink only water.

Here are some photos. Look above you. Some captions:

1. Some baby chicks, a day or two old. England are still in the group stages of the World Cup.

2. Hetty with adopted son Tweetheat (four to six weeks old). England are probably still in the World Cup which has now reached the thrilling ‘knock-out’ stage.

3. Hetty and Tweetheart again at about the same time.

4. Today. The World Cup is a distant memory. Left to right: Hetty, Pasty, Grey Bird, Bella.

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