Now that Maude seems to be mostly done with her moult, I thought I'd have a go at cleaning up the garden a bit. There were feathers pretty much everywhere, but a good twenty minutes of plucking them from rose bushes and raking them from the borders made a world of difference. And then I spied the Palace.
Maude's old season plumage was liberally scattered about the run. In fact, it was like a new layer atop the sub-strata of the poo and aubiose. With a sudden burst of enthusiasm, I decided to get rid of all the feathers in the garden, and began clearing the run debris. Naturally, as soon as I began every adult hen in the vicinity decided that they needed to lay an egg. I opened the main coop door to give them an alternate route, but oh no. They actually wanted to waddle across the area I was working in, and use the ramp. That held me up somewhat. A succession of haughty chickens casually kicking through your piles of old litter is rather irritating. At last, all would-be layers were in the coop vying for the best nest box and I could get on with it.
It is still the school holidays here, and the children are therefore in a 'helpful' mood. Today the help consisted of flinging water all over the garage floor, tipping a large bucket of woodshavings out on the lawn (they missed the composter) and getting a seriously narked peck from Celia as they rummaged under her for eggs. Sorting out the various calamities meant that the clean out took two hours instead of one, but at last, we were finished.
I stood at the back door, covered in poo and aubiose and red mite powder, and surveyed my feather-free lawn. One by one, the hens emerged from the coop and went about their business. The last hen to emerge was Mabel. She took a few steps from the run door, and then shook her left leg like a dog. One solitary fluffy feather gently swirled to the ground. I chose to ignore it and look the other way. However, a few steps later she shook from her head to her talons, and several more fluffy underfeathers floated to earth on the breeze. I swear she looked at me to make sure that I'd noticed.
I should probably give up.
(As a quick aside, if you get October's 'Country Smallholding' magazine, and look on page 31 of the poultry section, you may spot a familiar beak...)