Sunday, 5 December 2010

One Flew Over The Chicken's Nest

I've been keeping hens for two and a half years at this stage and consider myself to have a fairly good grasp as to what it involves. I have dealt with illnesses and deaths, injuries and bullying, and even the world famous ASBO Chicken's cowbag mood swings. On the whole, I thought I'd seen it all. So imagine my surprise when I looked out of the kitchen window earlier to see a chicken sitting on the roof of the greenhouse.

At first I thought I must be mistaken. Surely that vague chicken shape was merely melting snow inching its way down the glass? Erm, no. That would be Hilda the white pekin. Sitting on the greenhouse roof. Looking rather startled.

I barely paused to tug on my boots before legging it down the garden. As I left the house, I shrieked for the ever tolerant husband over my shoulder. The greenhouse is eight foot high at its peak, and Hilda was sitting on the glass roof very near the ridge. After my mad dash down the garden I found myself clueless as to how to proceed. Hilda peered down at me with interest while the ever tolerant husband stood in the door way hardly believeing his eyes.

Pekins can't fly. It's a basic fact of the breed. Their stubby wings and rotund bodies can at best manage a sort of flapping jump. I have never clipped a pekins wings for this reason. Yet here was Hilda, somehow having scaled at least seven feet. Now I may have mentioned that I didn't think that Hilda was the best example of a pekin. She has limited foot feathering and a rather pointed tail, none of which is desirable in the breed. However I have no intention of breeding or showing my birds, so I can happily overlook these things without any consequence. Or so I thought. Because apparently Hilda's non-Pekin-ness means that she can get some serious height in to her flight.

As I stood there, vaguely formulating a plan involving a broom, Hilda began to move. The snow that she had landed on was inching its way like a glacier towards the edge of the roof. At first she didn't seem to notice and carried on watching me in an interested sort of way. As momentum built she adopted that long necked, comically startled expression that chooks do so well. She began her squawk just as she slid in to grabbable distance, and I managed to rescue the errant hen before she ski jumped from the roof in to the roses. It wasn't the best save in the world, as Hilda ended up upside down and hanging on to my thumb by one claw, but at least she wasn't buried under the avalanche her descent had created.

I righted the adventurous chicken and she seemed no worse for wear from her ordeal. The ever tolerant husband tried unsuccessfully to suppress a guffaw and made a passing remark about 'You've Been Framed'. Hilda stalked back in to the coop with her head held high, clearly trying to preserve her dignity. As all of the other hens had watched proceedings from the run perches, I closed the door after her so that she wouldn't attempt to fly south for the winter. I can only assume that the covering of snow made her think that the greenhouse roof was a legitimate landing strip.

Hilda may need grounding.

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