HENS

Posted: January 1, 2018 in Chat
Tags: , , , ,

000_0190    Sand-bath time!

These are our pride and joy.
They were both supposed to both be hens: bantams. That’s what we asked for; they were to keep our found-hen company.
That was Pearl.
She was wandering down our road (we once had a tiny flock of twittering game birds – quail – pass through. They all must have flown down from the hills, and the game centres there, somewhere). I saw her one afternoon on a neighbours’ low shed roof, and a local cat was stalking her. Donning my superhero costume I was out, and rescued the fair maiden.
She had cat-scratches on her legs, but was otherwise ok.

Pearl was my special friend.
She would come looking for me, especially in the evening, roosting-time. She would look up at me in my chair; I’d pat the chair arm, and she would flutter up, then walk up my arm to my shoulder, shuffle in under my hair, against me. She’d flick my hair over her, like a wing, then nestle. Until she got too hot, then ‘d have to go somewhere cooler.

Originally we got her a small batch of rescue-hens for company. She would keep challenging them, though, in a ‘I was here first’ type of way; they would just pick her up by her comb, and she’d dangle helpless.
The rescue-hens we have kept have not lived too long. Their livers are usually too badly damaged through over-rich feeds of that first year of intensive farming, to produce their ‘right type’ eggs.

Pearl was extremely fragile and nervous; her egg-laying times were a nightmare. She was prone to fits at those times. Giving her medicine on one such occasion caused her to have a heart-attack. She died as we tried to make her well.

000_0164

She died, and… these two are still here.
And as you can see, he is anything but a hen.

As bantams, they are only tiny: 18 inches long, and high. The cockerel was very sick when he arrived – it took months of all manner of nursing to bring him round. And full of fleas – it also took many months to fully rid him of those, and their eggs.

We had them outside in a coop, but neighbourhood cats took an interest: just snack size.
The crunch came when we looked out the window to check on them one day, and there was a hawk standing squeezed up against the bars, head through, looking in greedily, while they quivered in fright at the back.

100_0141

And you wouldn’t believe how mischievous they are – the hen in particular. Is there a rule says the smaller they are the naughtier they are?100_0143

And noisy. When they want something, either food or just a bit of attention, she cries and each time it gets louder, then louder again, and so on until we respond. He just shouts – being small, it is a piercing shout that can be heard everywhere.

The more we chat with them, the more they respond in kind – the cockerel (name omitted for privacy) actually copies our syllables. Very touching, that.
Also touching is how he looks after the hen: whenever he finds food he stands back and clucks continuously until she comes over. He often misses out, if she eats it all. Whenever I bend to their level he stands before her, challenging, and warding me off.

If anyone is considering keeping some bantams – they are great fun – be warned: they are difficult to feed. It has taken us literally years to find a food they will accept and eat. And they now eat with relish, where before we were constantly worrying over them: Garvo Alfalfa Feed for Chickens.

Our pride and joy.

Comments
  1. Daedalus Lex says:

    As an American with an English lit, I seem to recall foreign characters in 18th-century English novels complaining that the English talked of nothing but their dogs and their horses. You make a fine case for adding “hens” to that vague list floating somewhere in my head 🙂 … Just kidding. Your story was actually quite touching.

    • Cut-off on this tiny island, what else is there?
      I’ve long said, if Britain ever left Europe we’d all be dead here in 5 years; we’ll have bored each other to death. Still think so.
      Best wishes 2018.

  2. Margaret Holbrook says:

    wonderful! My mum kept hens, Rhode Island Reds, but the two bantam (hens) were mine. Snowy and Blacky. The cockerel we had, (hatched when one of the hens went broody) had to go when the neighbours complained of his crowing. A long time ago but your piece made me think back. Thanks Michael.

  3. Thanks, Margaret; appreciated.

  4. sunshinysa says:

    Michael! I want to visit! How precious is your family that you do this. They have character because they know and feel your love. So glad i stumbled across your blog.♡

    • That’s lovely of you. They’d all play up , though. They are not keen on strangers in the house!
      Can’t win on that one..
      Really pleased with your own posts, and now follow you.
      Best wishes.

Leave a Reply to Daedalus Lex Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s