Martin Gur­don

Martin faces a bat­tle of wits with his chick­ens

Your Chickens - - Front Page -

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.

Martin Gur­don

TOP: Hadron - the most ef­fec­tive evader ABOVE: Priscilla, Slasher and Hadron in­vad­ing the gar­den

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