Monday, 30 March 2009

Adventures in Chicken Hunting - Part Two

After several days of phoning/emailing every chook breeder on the internet, I was beginning to think my search was hopeless. Most birds have only just started laying again after their winter break, and fertility is only just beginning to climb. What birds that were available, tended to be weeny chicks rather than rough and tough pullets who could hold their own. Damn.

I decided to widen my search area, and managed to find two places that had birds. One place had three kinds of pekin, black, black mottled and buff. No frizzles. The other place had frizzled silkies. No pekin. Oh, and they were both nearly seventy miles away. Damn.

Now, the ever tolerant husband must have got sick of me going on about finding a new chook. He nodded and smiled in all the right places as a rambled on about various distances, couriers and possibly getting the bus. With a resigned air, he told me to grab the kids some snacks and get in the car.

I will just take a moment here to say just how fabulous the ever tolerant husband is. Yesterday, he drove a hundred and forty mile round trip just to pick up a chicken. The man is a star. Or possibly certifiable.

So, we set off in search of the silkie frizzle. The lady had sent me a lovely picture of one of her young pullets, and I was quite smitten. We barralled along the country roads, attempting to find the most obscure little village imaginable. Several phone calls and wrong turns later, we pulled up outside the breeders cottage.

And what a cottage! It was a gorgeously charming little rough stone place, honey coloured and cosy looking. Two blonde ringleted children were playing out the front, surrounded by assorted fabulous birds. The breeder waved at us from the spot where she was wrestling a guinea fowl, and we went through the gate into this bird utopia. I was in heaven.

Introductions were made, and I rhapsodised over her set up. The boys ran off to play with her children on a huge trampoline, and we discussed all things fowl. It was all going terribly well, and I couldn't wait to meet my new pullet.

Suddenly, from behind us, there was the most bizarre noise. Turning around, we were greeted with a truly terrifying sight.

Tom the turkey stag was seriously annoyed, and seriously big. He stood tall, wings spread and dropped to the ground, feathers all raised in a threatening display. The tips of his wings dragged over the grass, making a really creepy ticking sound. He seemed to hover about the garden, like some feathery dalek. To be fair, no turkey is particularly good looking, but Tom looked like someone had turned his head inside out. This turkey was huge, slightly deranged, and apparently wanted to fight and/or mate with us. Yikes.

One of the breeders children casually walked past this psychotic vision and nudged it with a ruler, at which point he hovered off in the other direction. Nervously calling to the boys to stay on the trampoline because, gosh, isn't it fun?! (Nothing to do with the giant insane christmas dinner, noooooo), we wandered around various pens looking at her impressive collection of birds. I have to confess, I would have enjoyed this experience a lot more if I hadn't felt it necessary to keep one eye on the hovering turkey, who kept sneaking up on us with creepy speed. I casually dropped my handbag from my shoulder so that the strap was in my hand, ready to batter the evil Tom around the chops if he made a mad dash towards me, or tried to eat my children. He settled for gobbling at us periodically, and looking scary.

The breeder dropped down on her haunches to show me the silkie/frizzles parents, and I dutifully copied her. The turkey hovered behind us, a bit too close for comfort, and when the ever tolerant husband issued a manly scream I thought he'd been turkeyed. However, it was merely that the breeders friendly pet pigeon had decided to sit on his head.

Finally, we went to look at the chooks for sale. I fell in love with one of the little silkie/frizzle chicks, and picked it up. It instantly pooed on me, and then decided to be ambiguous about it's sex. Silkies are notoriously hard to sex unless they either crow or lay an egg. Now, the husband is extremely tolerant, but the idea that he might have to do this crazy journey again to return a cockeral was too much even for him. Reluctantly, I put her back and considered hubby's choice.

This is the first time that the husband has ever shown any real interest in choosing a chook, but he was immediately drawn to the only pekin this breeder had. This tiny feather footed chick stumbled forward, gave us both the once over and then had a peck at my finger nail. Baby pekins are almost insufferably cute, and of course I melted. They are also much easier to sex, and this baby black mottled was definitely a girl. As I gave her a cuddle, I was dive bombed by the friendly pigeon. Hubby had seen it coming and ducked. What a gentleman, eh?

So, I am pleased to tell you that we now have a new black mottled pekin pullet by the name of Maeve. The husband even named her. I knew he'd get the bug eventually!

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