Nine revellers attended the hen party at Cosy Cottage. Six were human guests (including S, yes, we both survived the D. I. Y torment!) Three were the feathered V. I. Ps, who had arrived a week before and, despite a little pecking and bickering amongst themselves (mostly from Dottie), they appeared to be happily settling in.
One week earlier, me and Dad picked them up from the poultry breeder. They were so quiet in their large, sturdy cardboard box in the car, on the way to their new life, I fretted something had happened. But they were fine, perhaps apprehensive about leaving their home and friends behind.
By this stage, there was a spare coop in the garden, a plastic one (albeit a cheaper and plainer version than the more famous ones you can buy).
So for the first few days, while we worked on getting the wooden coop 100% ready for the ladies, they enjoyed living in the henhouse on the grass. A smaller B&B perhaps but one with a delicious restaurant attached, offering scrumptious sweet grass galore.
On the first evening, while Jemima and Florence were getting ready for their beauty sleep after their busy day moving house, Dottie stood in front of their home, cackling away like a witch. I heard the loud harsh notes in my living room, wondering, what on earth is that sound? Is it a child crying next door?
And when I saw Dottie, proudly standing like a sentry guard, shouting her little head off, I cringed.
My mum was right, they were noisy. My neighbours will be at my door with pitchforks, demanding to know what that awful racket was, waking them up from an early evening snooze in front of Coronation Street. They will ring the environmental health, the police and the courts, I will be on the front page on the local newspaper and…
Maybe I should actually check what is actually going on?
And when I did, my fear-filled frown turned into a big smile. For there, in the nesting area was a perfect petite white egg (pictured below, in comparison to two normal size eggs). An object of beauty. It looked more like Jemima’s egg as she was white but Dottie was definitely taking the credit for it, whether it was hers or not.
And once I removed the egg, she was quiet again. Maybe she was telling me of her good deed for the day?!
The girls moved from their summer residence to their main abode later that week. It was a test to see whether the coop which me, S and Dad laboured so long on was actually chicken-ready at all. My parents said I might have to ‘teach’ the girls to go up and down the ramp for the first few evenings. Yet, unlike guinea pigs Bugsy and Loco, who, first time they saw a ramp looked at it as if it had flown in from outer space, these clever girls took themselves to bed on the first night, no bother.
Not only that, bedtime was actually sooner than I expected. I only noticed it got dark about 8.30pm but they were all roosting by 8pm.
Two interesting observations – one, they can sense it gets dark much sooner than I can. Two, I really noticed the nights drawing in because they were going to bed earlier and earlier.
Dottie was the easiest to handle, she would squat down making it easy for this apprehensive first-time hen carer to pick her up. Jemima was confident but flighty and Florence, the youngest who didn’t have a full comb on her head as yet, was incredibly nervous and would run away as soon as anyone got near.
S decided to make friends with the hens.
First he lifted Jemima up. Jemima showed her respect by… Well, let’s just say S had to change his T-shirt!
Ladies?! Not sure about that! Mind you, I always had the feeling Jemima was a rebel with a strange sense of humour.
The ladies proved a big hit at the hen party and were on the best behaviour, except for Florence and Jemima who made an escape mid-move to the summerhouse. Fortunately, they were easily herded back into the coop. They received more fans from the Book Club, when I hosted the monthly meeting later that week.
I was hoping that with all this admiration they weren’t going to get big-headed!
Facts of the Day
1. The fleshy part of skin on top of the head of a chicken is called a comb.
2. The beak is made of hard keratin that continues to grow.
3. Food is ground up in the hen’s gizzard, helped by small stones which the hen will have previously eaten. Hens don’t have teeth.