People that don't keep chickens, and have no experience of them, will tell you that poultry is somewhat lacking in the brain cell department. They will make limp jokes about headless chickens and perhaps give an anecdote about the time so-and-so's idiot bird barbecued itself. All terribly amusing. However, anyone who actually knows chickens knows that this is utter rot. Chickens are devious. Like a gold digging centrefold, they can give an air of harmless stupidity while plotting against you. Beware the gormless chicken. She means you harm.
I have been doggedly trying to impress upon the ever tolerant husband the need for us to move. Principally, this is because the human elements need room to swing the proverbial cat. But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't hankering after more outside space. I dream of a human garden, where plants remain unmolested and the only threat to my roses is greenfly. the hens would have their own garden, complete with dust baths and plenty of bushes to snooze under. But naturally I keep these ideas to myself. The ever tolerant husband is a very easy going sort of chap, but even he might baulk at the idea of taking out a mortgage based on the suitability for the chickens. I'll have to be much more cunning than that. Plus, this would be the third time we have attempted to sell this charming domicile. So, I have an estate agent coming at the end of the week to value our house.
Just as I wrote the appointment in my diary, I heard a tapping on the kitchen door. Maude was sat on the step, trying to get my attention. There is nothing unusual in this. The girls learnt at an early stage that the kitchen is where the food lives, and that if they hover for long enough I might take pity on them. Not that they're indulged or anything. Anyway, I ignored her. She was soon joined by Mabel. They chattered disgustedly, just loud enough for me to hear. I sensed I was getting the evil eye, so opened the door to shoo them away. And that's when I saw it.
The back lawn was liberally sprinkled with feathers. Not just the odd bit of fluff, but enough for the wind to be swirling around in little feathery devils. I stared out at the chicken arse explosion with my mouth open, and a growing sense of doom. The hens stared back at me impassively, apart from Gladys who was leaping about the place shaking her ratty bum about and shedding even more of her plumage.
Every single one of the pekins has gone in to moult. Over night. Every. Single. One. You have to keep hens to truly understand the impossible maths that governs the amount of feathers that can come from one small bird. They seem to expand and spread themselves far and wide across the land. And they are impossible to clean up effectively when it's wet. And its been raining, and will continue to rain, all week. They stick to everything, get caught up in the plants and blow out of the bin every time you lift the lid. The garden, which was quite tidy yesterday, now resembles an explosion in a pillow factory.
Now, of course this could be pure coincidence. Surely my girls haven't deliberately dropped their feathers to spite me. I mean, they wouldn't do that, would they? They wouldn't try and thwart my attempts to move and relegate them to their own area? They wouldn't begrudge being denied access to the kitchen door, and therefore food, right? They wouldn't turn themselves in to welfare concern cases for the estate agent pictures, thereby making me look like a nasty, cruel owner who starves her poor birdies, surely?
Experience means that I am reserving judgement.