Martin faces a battle of wits with his chickens
Iwas at the bottom of the garden, engaged in mortal combat with some brambles, when I heard an anguished cry from my wife. “We’ve been invaded again!”
I hadn’t latched the gate properly between ‘our’ bit of the garden and the area where we let the chickens roam when we’re at home. It had swung open and Slashser, Hadron and Priscilla had beetled through and were entertaining themselves looking for insects in my beloved’s flower tubs.
As I stomped up the garden I could hear her shouting ‘No!’ ‘Shoo!’ ‘Hadron, no!’ and found my wife chasing three determined hens who had fanned out like chunky, feathered Red Arrows to make rounding them up more difficult.
Having received a mild scolding for not shutting the gate properly again, I was dispatched to help form a pincer movement and drive the birds back into ‘their’ bit of garden.
Slasher used to have an infuriating trick of vanishing under bushes, where it was impossible to dig her out, but seems to have forgotten this for the moment, which is a blessing. It was a technique that resulted in hours of illicit foraging.
DUCK AND DIVE
Priscilla tends to bolt back the way she’s come, before peeling off at the last moment. Hadron is the most effective evader of the lot. She will duck and dive before stopping dead so that her pursuers nearly trip over her. In a two humans versus one chicken contest, Hadron is a little easier to handle, but in a one-on-one battle she has discovered a cartoon-like ability to run round and round a small tree on the lawn, switching directions so that it’s a nightmare trying to herd her back to where she ought to be.
Ludicrously, I find myself trying to reason with the bird. ‘Come on Hardon, be a good girl’, as if the words make any sense to her. Of course, it’s just extraneous noise, and my nonsensical pleading falls on deaf chicken ears.
If this feathery raiding party makes its presence felt as we’re about to go out, it’s simply a pain, but we have to admit that hens being sneaky do look very funny. It’s obvious that they know very well that what they are doing is verboten, but clearly they believe in the maxim that all property is theft, and if we have something potentially edible, and this is a bit of property that we don’t want them to have, then they’re going to find a way to thieve it.
All this indicates that things are more or less back to normal in the garden after last month’s serial grimness. Priscilla quickly shrugged off broodiness that hadn’t seemed as all-encompassing as in previous years, and has gone back into lay. Hadron has been producing eggs for months and we’re getting at least half a dozen a week. Avian equilibrium is the order of the day.
However the issue of flock renewal remains, and our next plan is to contact heavy breed clubs to find suitable birds, and be prepared to travel to get new ones.
They had fanned out like chunky, feathered Red Arrows to make rounding them up more difficult.
TOP: Hadron - the most effective evader ABOVE: Priscilla, Slasher and Hadron invading the garden