I have been neglecting you, I know. Not deliberately, but circumstances have conspired against me. No matter, for I am here now. I have a whole twenty minutes to tell you all about the exploding flock.
Not literally exploding. That would be news worthy and probably messy. No, just the feather explosions you'd expect at this time of year. We were on holiday last week, and my lovely chicken sitter did a marvellous job of taking care of my demanding divas. And as half of them are in moult right now, I'm sure they were very demanding.
Mabel and Maude are quite smug, having already grown their new plumage. They sit on the perches in the run preening themselves, taunting the arseless Celia and crew cutted Maeve. Celia is rather embarassed by her lack of behind, and keeps looking back where her bum should be and looking both confused and sad. She pecks half heartedly at her stubble, but it's very difficult to make quills look presentable. Generally, she finds a bush to hide under or a nest box to squat in. She has sneezed a few times, so I've added a tonic to the water and poultry spice to the feed. Moulting hens are vulnerable to illness and generally just feel a bit rubbish so every little helps.
Maeve is taking out her displeasure on the rest of the flock, as expected. Flo and Winnie won't moult this year, they're too young, so Maeve is particularly narky with them. Poor Winnie seems to have found herself at the bottom of the pile and regularly gets a peck on the head for no reason at all really. She accepts these spiteful digs with an air of resignation which makes me sneak her grapes. Poor girl. Maeve is moulting in such a way that has left her with a vaguely punky look, or as if someone had decided to remake 'Mad Max' but with chickens. All she needs is a semi automatic slung across her back and some interesting bits of leather tied to her feathers and she'd give Mel Gibson a run for his money. She stalks the garden, muttering vague threats and maliciously shredding my bedding plants. So, business as usual really.
Betsy is so far resisting the moult, but Vera is having a bit of a go. Every so often I find a drift of soft black feathers in their hutch. However, she seems to be doing it the smart way and instead of dropping all of her insulation at once she's taking her time. Things are still unseasonably mild here in the midlands, but the cold weather must be on the way so I'm glad that I don't have an oven ready serama to worry about.
Gladys is back to her frizzly gorgeousness. She did have to go about without a tail for a few weeks, which made her look a bit like a pom pom, but now she is just stunning. Naturally, this makes Maeve hate her. But Gladys is a wily one, and has got very good at evasive procedures. I'm rather proud.
Only one hen is still in the grip of broody madness. Sigh. Yep, Hilda is still clamped to her non-existent eggs and hissing at me if I go near. At some point in the last week one of her charming flock mates has seen fit to poo on her, so her once pure white feathering is now distinctly...smeared. It's far too cold to consider bathing her, though, so I gave her a brief wipe over with a baby wipe to remove the worst of the excrement and will now hope that she goes in to moult. If she does, the skanky feathers will no longer be an issue and she'll stop being broody. I have caged Hilda 6 times this year. She is one determined (mental) chicken. She is eating and drinking, so I am happy to lift her daily and keep an eye on her at this stage. She hates it when I sprinkle her with mite powder, but tough talons, lady. A mite problem would be disasterous.
Much like Maeve's retro punk look.