Chick, chick chickeeeeeeeens! Oh how exciting! Our hens arrived last Friday and I am besotted already. To say ‘arrived’ is possibly an overstatement, it implies they jetted in from somewhere exotic with monogrammed luggage and an entourage, though when you see them its not hard to imagine that being the case. Introducing Joan and Zsa Zsa, two fine looking birds named after two fine looking broads (Collins and Gabor, keep up).
In reality there was very little glamour save for that found in the fetishising of all things rural and inefficient, they arrived in an apple box. I picked them up from a man in the village who keeps an outstanding fowl farm beside the allotment of his sandstone cottage (a Hello Dibley moment for me right there). This man had every kind of feathered bandit – lots of which I didn’t recognise but was too embarrassed to ask about given how much of the city he could smell off me; in response to my curious “What do you call those blonde dames?” (yes I said that about chickens) he grunted “Chicken”. Anywhoooo, I bought four, Fred had given me explicit instructions; I was to buy two chickens to raise as pets, they would be excluded from all egg quotas and would never see a garnish. I was expressly forbidden from purchasing more than two. If my husband sounds like a 1950s throw back, then dear reader I bid you relax! The last time I was tasked with collecting one small animal I adopted two enormous, untrainable labradoodles who have made his life miserable. Thus, caution. The arrival of the chickens has prompted Fred and I am to each utter a senctence we never imagined we would say. I was forced to declare “We do not eat family” in response to a barbaric suggestion of what would happen to chickens who didn’t lay. While Fred had to insist that “The poultry stay outside. In all situations.” when I became too concerned about the rain and the impermeability of feathers.
As I said, instructed to buy two and bought four. Standard! We have two Silkies and two Cuckoo Marans, and strangely, like the cast of the original Planet of the Apes, they tend to stick to their own. Zsa Zsa (fair haired like her namesake) and Joan (dark like her’s) are obviously the Silkies. They enjoy eating and running in terror from leaves The Marans are named Betty and Bitch, they enjoy laying eggs and inflicting small wounds on stray hands they find in the coop. Bitch is, well, a total bitch and Zsa Zsa is, well, a total diva, yesterday she wouldn’t come out of the coop because it was raining! I send a lot of my time watching them peck around their pen. They’re slowly becoming more friendly and will no longer run from me when I visit them, in fact if they spot that I have something delicious like spinach or broccoli stalks they will run towards me.
They’re still not keen on being picked up, the first night they were here Fred and I waited patiently for them to go into the coop, however patience was not available in great abundance as were en route to a black tie ball. As it grew darker and darker and the cab honked louder and louder we were forced to capture the chickens ourselves; bow ties, false lashes and feathers flying in every direction, bums high and knees scrapped while a highly amused driver took Snapchats. Such is life.
Hilarity and uncomfortable mental images aside the girls have settled in well. The Marans are starting to lay regularly with about 6 eggs from them this week. The Silkies (or “your two Dilsies” as Fred refers to them) have laid a grand total of one egg between them, but they weren’t bred for the drudgery of the nest. These photos sum up their characters perfectly; Zsa Zsa strutting about like she’s facing down Tyra, Joan looking a little worried, Betty and Bitch getting on with the important business of chickening. Every home should have chickens!