Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Hilda's Debut

Hilda, my white pekin, has been broody forever. Well, not quite forever. But a very long time. Despite many attempts by yours truly to dissuade her from sitting on her phantom eggs, she has remained true to her cause. Her stubbornness has proved resolute, and after checking that she was eating and drinking and not losing too much condition, I decided to leave her to it. This was preferable to the constant pecking (her) and swearing (me).

So I was surprised on Monday to see her mooching around the garden with her flockmates. She has made the odd foray in to the garden, but it's usually been at the break neck speed of the fussy broody and involved diving in to the dustbath for a nano second. But here she was, slowly ambling about the lawn with the others and nibbling at the grass. At last, I thought, the dappy bird has realised it's November. Now I'll be able to collect the eggs without gauntlets.

But it seems that common sense was not the reason for Hilda shaking off her broody trance. On Tuesday I noticed the odd white feather in the coop, and it clicked in to place. Hilda was going in to her first moult. Mystery solved, I thought no more about it. So imagine the shock I got when Hilda emerged from the coop this morning, looking like this:

Yep, that is one bald pekin. In fact, she has a completely bald patch on her bum. There is what looks like an oven ready mini chicken sprinting about the garden, possibly in an effort to keep warm.

She has liberally redecorated the coop with her own feathers. Which is probably cosy for the other chooks.

My poor little Hilda is now roosting in the coop to escape the cruel November wind. I'll be adding some poultry spice to the hens' porridge tonight, and hope that she can stay warm enough. I have never had a hen moult so dramatically in such a short space of time. Of course, this weekend we'll see our first frost of the year.

I'll no doubt be trudging across the lawn at 11pm to make sure that the others have tucked her in to the middle of the flock.

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