When I was at school, the Headmaster had several creepy stuffed animals dotted around. One was a fox, one was a badger and one was a pheasant. Us 'orrible children used to dare each other to touch these macabre ornaments. The fox felt greasy, and the ultimate act of bravery was to put your chubby child hand between his snarling chops. The badger felt wiry and looking at it made me feel sad. But at least these two specimens were mostly intact. The pheasant wasn't so lucky. It's plumage was tatty from years of having small people running their hands through it. Feathers would sometimes fall off the dusty bird, and we'd stick them back haphazardly. Why am I telling you this? Well, because Maude has looked like that straggly pheasant for a long time now. Her moult seems to be taking forever. But just as I started to worry, she is once again beginning to look magnificent.
Most of the fluffy underfeathers have finally become untangled, and her new feathers are unfurling. She now looks like Maude again, but with a shorter, funkier hair do. Maude has been smart. Her moult will be but a memory when the bad weather rolls in. The rest of the flock will no doubt sit in the coop, bald from the neck down and shivering come October. Then Maude will strut about in a smug manner, flaunting her high tog duvet and mocking the sparrow sized serama.
Actually, I'm a bit concerned as to what the serama will look like when they moult. Half their body size is in their upright tail feathers. A bumless serama is going to look odd. And probably a bit like a quail. Don't worry, I will gets photographs for you amusement. I have already found a few black silkied feathers in the nest box, so I suspect that Vera is about to shrink substantially. The youngest showed concern at the idea of the serama moulting. As he put it, what if they simply poof out of existance like 'Angry Birds'? It got me thinking. Perhaps that explains why there are so few of them about,
Now that August is drawing to a close, I've decided to give up on the summer. It's been long, and dry, and sometimes unbearably humid. Today is the first cool day we've had since early June, and it's actually raining. The ground is that dry that I swear I can hear it sucking up the moisture like a two year old with a straw. We have been in drought here in the midlands. Even the hens ventured out for a splash in the puddles. Granted, it didn't last long. Pekins hate getting their feet wet and serama aren't very waterproof what with the silkied feathers. But I think they enjoyed a brief freshen up nonetheless.
The integration plans for Flo and Winnie are going ahead. Ideally, they'll be fully fledged memebers of the gang by the end of September. They've spent quite a bit of time in with the big girls now with minimal interference. They get the odd bit of chasing, but nothing substantial and they're smart enough to keep out of pecking distance. I've had to stop plans to add Vera and Betsy to the main flock now, though. It tuns out that pekins are hideously species-ist. They seem to know that the serama are Not Their Kind, and for some reason really have it in for Betsy. They ganged up on her in a way I've never seen them do with any other potential flock mate, and if one caught her she couldn't get away. The others then all stood around taking it in turns to pluck her alive or issue a stabby peck at her head. Of course, I rescued her and abandoned all plans of moving the serama in to the Palace. They will remain in the garage hutch. Strangely, when they all free range together there are no problems at all. Betsy often pops in to the Palace for a quick shifty, or to grab a drink. That seems to be tolerated, so I suppose they are integrated enough. And Vera is still micro-managing the pekin youngsters, so I'm hoping that that particular serama/pekin alliance will continue.
Now if I could just stop thinking about that creepy stuffed fox...