Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Bantam Menace

We’ve had several waves of new arrivals in the chicken department over the last few months. The first douzaine are now feral free-ranging teenagers who hang out in the car park and skinny dip in the pond. This “St Trinians” generation can’t be kept cooped up as they simply fly up into the trees and party noisily into the night.
Flying chooksWalking near the pond is like an excursion through the Amazon basin, as large exotic hens squawk and flutter through the tree canopy.  They’re quite a hardy bunch, being the survivors of various running and flying predators who picked them off in their early days.

The tree canopy
The next arrivals were the colourful trio I dubbed Charlie’s Angels, who have grown some since riding around on mother hen’s back in September.

The third wave – 14 chicks – arrived in early October, Jean having discovered them newly hatched in a secret location at the back of a barn. As Broody the hen leads them around the farm, I’m reminded of
scenes of young schoolgirls being swept around by a swift-moving nun/teacher in the Madeline books.  (Interestingly these books are only French-inspired, the author being an Austrian-born New Yorker).

Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans   Madeline's class meets Hen Solo & Princess Layer Organic
Yesterday I found one of the un-named red hens I bought earlier in the year escorting a single chick around the coop. I’ve given them the names Hen Solo and Princess Layer Organic. Chewbacca Munson has already sniffed her out from a distance. Now that we’re nearly knee deep in poultry he only pays them attention when they stray onto our terrace to feed on my fading herbs. They don’t linger very long when he spots their incursion…

Princess Layer Organic

Postscript [16 November]: Princess Layer passed away this morning, as did mother Hen Solo, probably from fending off an attacker around dusk. The coop is under lockdown today.


  1. Too funny (except for the demise of Hen Solo and Princess Layer). As this population of poultry continues to grow, are there chicken dinners in your future? If so, have you worked out who would, um, do the deed? And pluck?

    This is what keeps me from thinking seriously about keeping chickens.

  2. Lesley7:44 pm

    All hens and no eggs have you got.

  3. @The chicken population is growing mainly because the hens are hiding their eggs further and further afield, so we're getting almost zero eggs now.

    Over winter there's less laying so I believe there will be a bit of a chicken dinner cull. Jean's got a plucking device on order to handle part of the duties.

    @Lesley: Meditate on this, I will.