I was rudely awaken at half six this morning by an eerie call. As I lay there trying to decipher what was making such an unearthly sound, the ever tolerant husband rolled over and muttered something about 'those bloody chickens', so I thought I ought to investigate. I shuffled down the stairs in my dressing gown and stared out of the kitchen window blearily. The run was empty. Weird. Just then, the same mournful cry went out across the estate. Huh.
I opened the back door and stuck my head out. All in the Palace was silent. But something was making that spooky sound, so I trudged across the lawn in my slippers. What I found was a little sinister. Maeve was sitting on the perch, alone, like a crow on a gravestone. I opened up the coop door and peered in at seven sleepy chickens. Half six in the AM is not quite full light now, and they showed no signs of getting up for their breakfast. I closed the door on them and let them keep dreaming of worms and raisins. Or something.
So I turned my attention back to Maeve. She eye balled me and sat hunched on her perch like a feathery gargoyle, orange eye glittering. After some consideration, she opened her beak and issued the creepy sound again. It was like a cross between an owl hooting, and a particularly narked turkey. Think low resonance throat warbling. She closed her beak again, and glared at me. Well, this is new.
Maeve, up until this point, has only ever made quite normal chicken noises. The occasional 'bok-ARK', and more regularly a menacing growl. But she has never gone turkey/owl on me. Bracing myself for carnage, I scooped her up to give her the once over. No rattle in her chest, no snotty nose holes, bright eyes and in all obvious respects fit and healthy. So her new voice wasn't down to illness. I plonked her back on the perch. I'm probably imagining the look of malevolent amusement in her eye, but I wouldn't like to say. All out of ideas, I flung a left over jacket potato in to the run to distract her from her singing and trudged back to bed.
The ever tolerant husband enquired as to which one of the 'noisy cowbags' had woken us up. I told him it was our favourite poultry nemesis, and he looked thoughtful for a moment, then shrugged and rolled back over. I lay in bed waiting for the alarm to go off and thinking about this new development. Winnie and Flo are now full time residents of the Palace, and I wondered if this change in routine had upset our beloved ASBO. I found no trace of an egg, but she might have layed elsewhere. It certainly didn't sound like a victory bok, though. No, the longer I lay there, the more convinced I became that she was practicing. After all, all evil geniuses need an evil laugh.
Perhaps it was the chicken equivalent of mwahahahahahahaha.