While rootling through the fridge yesterday I discovered half a punnet of strawberries. They were just at the point of going soft, so there was no way the children could be tricked in to eating them. I usually give the hens the tops as a treat, but with a dozen fruits going to waste I thought I'd spoil them. Feeling very generous, I gave each hen her own strawberry to eat, including the serama. Oh, what a mistake.
Chickens love most fruit, and they eagerly devoured them. There was so much strawberry juice flying about, it began to look like a massacre. As several fruit-crazed hens dashed past the kitchen door, their faces splattered with red and specks of strawberry flesh clinging to their feathers, it was all a bit 'Chicken Apocolypse'. The determinedly broody Hilda looked the most sinister, as her entire head had become a delicate shade of pink. After several piranha-like minutes, things settled down and I pretty much forgot about the treat.
So when I went out the following morning to open up the Palace, I was unprepared for the sheer horror of the strawberry scented poo lake under the perching block. Good Lord, never has a substance more heinous been created by a still living beast. The hens flapped and jumped from the perches to the pop hole, eager to escape in to fresh air. They sat in the run, staring at me with haunted eyes, seemingly unable to believe that they had produced something so noxious. Trust me, no one wants to deal with fruit induced chicken squits at eight o'clock in the morning. Not even this Madchickenlady.
I retreated to regroup my senses and work out what to do next. Naturally, my first concern was for that of the birds' welfare. However, on inspection I found that they all seemed well and remarkably slick-free. I imagine that the explosion was so violent that it didn't even get a chance to cling to any feathers. As a precaution, they all got a bum wash regardless. This wasn't greeted with any enthusiasm, and Mabel was particularly aggrieved. Considering that this was her second bath in a month, perhaps she had the right to squawk indignantly throughout. Once the hens were dealt with, I braced myself to return to the scene of the crime.
I considered my options. Carefully, I rolled the newspaper carpet towards the door. The poo lake rolled towards me in a wave. I decided that rolling was a bad idea. After some thought, I used most of my newspaper supply to soak up as much of the catastrophe as possible, pushed the whole lot in to a bin liner and then threw buckets of water and disinfectant in to the coop until my nostril hairs stopped burning. Those seven strawberries cost me an hour of hard, stinky labour. The girls watched me from the border, where they considerately jumped up occasionally to chew on my roses.
Eventually, the job was done. There was still a vague stench of strawberries in the air, but the worst of the biohazard had been tackled. With a resigned sigh, I trudged towards the garage, fully expecting to have to hose out the serama hutches and parakeet cage. I found Betsy and Smudge contentedly eating breakfast. There were a few loose droppings, but nothing like the horror in the Palace. I had, thankfully, only given Vera and the chicks a tiny piece of strawberry between them, and their hutch was therefore clean. From this, I can only conclude that pekins, while bigger and definitely greedier, have a more delicate stomach than the allegedly fragile serama. Regardless, strawberries are off the menu for the forseeable future.
I may need counselling.