Now that winter is in full swing the hens and I see each other mostly divided by double glazing. Much as I love my chooks, sitting outside in the freezing cold does not appeal. I sit at the kitchen table with a cup of tea. Occassionally, Gladys will wander up to the back door and tap haughtily, demanding a treat. I perform the necessary husbandry quickly so that I can get back to the central heating. Therefore, the girls have to work a bit harder to get my attention.
Doris has hit upon a novel way of getting me to linger. She breathes heavily through her nostrils. The sound is hard to describe, and saying that she sounds like a chicken doing an impression of Darth Vader probably won't help. Yet that is what she sounds like. She perches in the Palace run, happily deep breathing apparently at will. If I grab her for a closer examination, all nostril music abruptly ceases. I go through the necessary health checks and come up blank. We stare at each other for a bit. Sometimes Doris tries to engage me in conversation 'Bok bok bok?'. The second I place her back down and turn to come inside, the Sith impersonation starts up again. Sometimes she stops if I give her a hard look.
Maude has taken an interest in this phenomenon, and cranes her neck around to peer up her flockmates nose. She mutters interestedly to Doris while carrying out these examinations. Doris randomly Darth's, and then stops when bored. Occassionally, Maude pecks at Doris's nostrils in a spirit of helping. This is rarely appreciated, but does stop the droning. As Doris is showing no signs of illness or lack of condition, I am for now going to put this behaviour down to attention seeking.
Luckily, the hens have no access to the weather forecast. I do, and am bracing myself for possible snow in the next few days. Whether or not the white stuff shows up is debatable, but the freezing conditions at night are not. I will be adding a deep layer of woodshavings to all nest boxes so that the girls can make themselves comfortable. Sleeping in the nest boxes is deeply undesirable when the hens are laying, but as none are I am quite happy for them to be used as bedrooms.
Although I pity whoever ends up sharing with the still arsey Maeve.