It has been glorious here today. I used the opportunity to knock the garden back in to shape, with the enforced help of the ever tolerant husband. We spent the morning shifting earth, moving plants and pots and generally tidying. The chooks mooched about after us, occassionally getting themselves close enough to the downwards stroke of the spade to only just escape the fate of a French aristocrat during the revolution. Doris is without doubt the most fearless, risking her neck several times for that juicy must-have worm.
At last, the chores were finished, and we locked the hens in to the Palace so that we could enjoy sitting in the sun without a feathery marauder landing on your shoulder. The chooks took this well, for the most part. The Palace is truly palatial to my small girls, and a vast improvement on the Convent's more modest grounds. They contented themselves with perching in the shade, or sunbathing in the aubiose. All was peaceful. Until, that is, Kiki was awoken from her broody spell.
I had caged Kiki earlier in the day in an effort to get her to eat and drink. The hormonal silkie has been in the broody zone for a fortnight now, and shows no sign of stepping out of it. She paced agitatedly about the cage, periodically sticking her fluffy head and long neck up out of the cage through the wire mesh like a submarine upping its periscope. After a few hours, I released her from the cage but shut the pop hole. Immediately, she dashed in to the Palace and smacked straight in to the closed pop hole. The rebound took her to the bottom of the ramp. Undeterred, she tried several times more. When sheer brute force didn't clear her path, she attempted to use her beak as a crowbar. I have to confess to being quite impressed. Alas, this too failed. She perched in the run, muttering darkly.
All of a sudden, she seemed to notice the chooklets for the first time. She has been in her broody alternate universe all through the move to the Palace, and the introduction of Purdy and Celia to the main flock. Her short spell in the cage was all it took to bring her round enough to notice. And she didn't like it. As we sat in the garden, enjoying the sun, Kiki decided to kill the chooklets. With uncharacteristic viciousness, she hounded them around the Palace, allowing them no respite. All of the hens took up a loud screeching, as Purdy and Celia legged it at light speed from the mental roadrunner. I watched anxiously, knowing that interference would only prolong any bullying, yet ready to step in should feathers and/or blood be drawn. It would settle down for a few minutes, only for the crazy Benny Hill chase to begin again with renewed vigour. Eventually, I decided to remove Kiki so that she could calm down.
Cornering her in the sleeping area, I grabbed her. She immediately started making a racket as if she was being murdered, flapping her wings and wobbling her neck about. With grim determination, I hung on to the struggling silkie and wrestled her back in to the broody cage. Immediately, the rest of the flock fell silent and went back to their sunbathing/preening/snoozing. Kiki resumed pacing and chuntering.
I have no idea what led to Kiki's sudden hostility. After about an hour, I put her back in with the flock. She strutted back up the ramp to her favourite nest box and pancaked herself. The glazed look in her eye told me that she was no longer with us. This is one determined broody.
I think that Celia and Purdy will be glad of it.