The Barrier has been in place for several weeks now. It has been pretty successful in keeping the marauding flock out of the flower bed, and I am now able to look out of the kitchen window and see some early tulips and daffodils being battered by the force 9 gales. Still, the colour is pleasing. This morning, however, I had a mystery on my hands.
A mere ten minutes after letting the girls out to free range, I spotted a soil fountain behind the rosemary bush. On closer inspection I found Maeve happily dust bathing. Carefully, I extracted her from the border and plonked her back amongst the flock on the lawn. She was most disgruntled, and I earned myself a swift peck on the heel for my insolence. I returned to the house, assuming that the determined ASBO Chicken had managed to scale the fence with a gale assisted flap.
A short while later, I discovered that Maeve was back in her favourite spot, and this time she had company. Hilda and Celia were busy attempting to dig up some late flowering bulbs. With a muttered 'bloody hens' I traipsed back out to remove them all. They didn't put up a fight and all just sat waiting to be transported. Which was odd. I mean, usually we have a bit of a flap at an eviction. But nope, they were all a picture of serene good naturedness. So naturally I was suspicious. I decided to watch them to see if I could find their access point.
After twenty minutes of watching the girls mooch about looking innocent, I decided to empty the dishwasher. This took approximately five minutes, during which time all seven pekins breached the barrier and trampled over the new poeny growth. At this point I thought darkly about wing clipping, or perhaps leg weights. It turns out, however, that I was completely on the wrong track. After turfing them all back on to the lawn, by chance I turned around just at the moment that Maude walked back through the barrier, like some cyborg, 'Terminator' chicken. Now chickens have many interesting properties, but the ability to pass through a fence via osmosis isn't one of them.
On closer inspection, I found that the netting had frayed. But it had frayed in a most interesting way. The hole was exactly at the spot that I have a heavy plant pot weighing down the fencing, in a bid to stop chook tunnelling. It is perfectly placed for a small, canny hen to jump up on to the plant pot, and then squeeze through the gap. And the gap is virtually undetectable unless you are actively looking for it (or see Maude going ghost). It's all just a bit too....convenient. I find myself contemplating just how long it would take a determined hen to saw through nylon strings with their beak. I find myself thinking of 'The Shawshank Redemption', and shuddering. Using some garden twine, I have resealed their point of entry.
Maeve watched me work with glittering, interested eyes.