When you keep hens, you don't need a calendar to tell you that spring has sprung. For one thing, the eggs starting piling up in the nest boxes. For another, the girls become rather, erm, frisky. Maude has been waddling in front of me and crouching for weeks now, and is beginning to get frustrated with my lack of compliance. She fears not for her own safety, and I have narrowly avoided squashing the daft bird several times. Mabel has taken to flattening the others in an extremely disciplined and systematic way. Its got so that the next hen assumes the position as soon as she clocks Mabel approaching.
All of this fertility is the very essence of spring. In an attempt to find an obliging male suitor, the ladies have taken to bokking their heads off at regular intervals (I have taken to rushing outside and flapping a tea towel at them in an effort to shut them up. They watch this with interest, and then take up their song as soon as I retreat indoors). One chook starts the fracas, usually because she's laid an egg. It is soon taken up by the others, as one by one they fall under the spell. I listen to all this racket anxiously, and send boxes of eggs to the neighbours by way of an apology. Even the chooklets are getting in on the act, despite being several months from maturity.
I remember this phenomenon from last spring, and if memeory serves me it should all calm down again sometime around May. Probably just in time for the first hen to catch broody. In the mean time, I shall continue to waft my tea towel and throw slices of bread out of the back door.
Some exciting developments with regards to the chook palace. My Dad has agreed to take a look at my favourite (expensive) design, and let me know whether its doable. I am both excited and nervous, as I haven't yet told him that I want a hanging carved sign reading 'The Convent'. He will definitely think I've lost the plot. The benefits of having the palace built bespoke means that I can get the exact dimensions I require.
Dimensions which would be suitable for ten small hens....