Saturday, 21 March 2009

A Spring Clean

After the trauma of yesterday, today we had to turn our minds to practical matters. Delilah may have died of an infectious disease, so the coop needed a thorough clean. I stripped it all down, and washed it all with disinfectant. The bedding in the run was all scraped out, and the ever tolerant husband gave it a good scrub. The dismantled coop was left to dry in the sunshine.

This was the moment when I realised I'd made a mistake. Belinda was wandering around the garden, vigorously shaking her head from side to side and muttering a low growl. Classic Belinda behaviour when she needs to lay an egg. It's almost as if she's trying to deny the inevitability of having to lay. If she could speak, I'm sure that weird growl would become, 'Ohhhhhh nooooooooo! Nooooooooo! I don't wannnnnt toooooooooo!'. Poor little chicken.

She wandered up to the coop door, and did a funny little double take as she realised that the floor of the nesting box was missing. Not to be deterred, she tried to climb into the space where the nest should be. Hens have little appreciation for the laws of physics. One small red hen tumbled inelegantly to the floor. She stood up, shook herself, muttered a bewildered 'bok?', and then went back inside to have another go. After the third attempt, I managed to stop laughing enough to shut the door and therefore thwart her comedy prat falls.

Shut out from the coop, Belinda decided to make her displeasure known by shrieking her head off while strutting around the garden. Even throwing her a handful of corn wouldn't shut her up. I hastily attempted to rebuild the nestbox, while a small red hen hopped around the lawn with her legs crossed. As I dumped in a handful of wood shavings, she streaked across the lawn, up the ramp and on to the nest. She opened her beak in a chickenny sigh of relief, and pecked me for taking so long. Typical.

Now that Belinda had control of the nest, she was reluctant to give it up. At one point there was a bizarre queue on the ramp of desperate to lay chickens. It looked like they were waiting for a bus. Who knew that hens could be so utterly British?

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