Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Chicken Run Part 2

"Chicken!  Chick-chick-chicken!"  I must sound very strange - just as well we only have a couple of neighbours.  I stand on the grass near their coop and call my girls to me to come get some slightly off grapes (no more guilt about throwing away uneaten fruit).
Today it took a little while for them to appear (it's been raining and they'll be huddled under their favourite bush) but a quick glance through the fence into the main garden (from which they are meant to be excluded) and here come the hens, pelting through the long grass (must get that strimmer) like sprinters.  They stop at the fence and look at me quizzically and determinedly.  They know I have food - I've trained them to respond to my call - but they can't quite remember how to get to me.   After a moment one of them remembers the little gate in their run - which I have given up closing, since they fly over the fence into the garden and then can't get back to the Coop to lay their eggs.  Three hens waddle quickly through the run and I throw a few grapes.  Then the other two figure out the way in and they're all squawking and fighting over the grapes as I throw the rest.
Only five.  Which means the broody one will be in the coop, sitting on some adopted eggs.  I scoop her out to join the others - since she won't have eaten today and needs to stretch her legs.  She sits for a moment on the wet stones.
"Go eat," I say gently, and she looks up at me and then slowly stands and strides over to the food dish.  She won't bother fighting the others for the grapes.  She has important business to get back to...  Of course, in the mean time I've removed her adopted eggs, so she'll be disappointed when she gets back to her nest and will have to wait until tomorrow for some more.
I never thought I would feel such affection for chickens.  I had not considered them as pets before we had them - they are farm animals.  Now I find myself talking to them, laughing at their antics and beginning to understand the special relationship a good farmer has with their animals.  I'm a city girl really, born and bred in London, and we only had guinea pigs and hamsters growing up.  This is a whole new world for me, and I feel so privileged to experience it.

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