Monday, 2 April 2012

Well, Thank God That's All Over

It's done. We've moved. At long last, we have finally relocated. But we still don't have broadband, so any hilarious typo's are down to this phone (Which, incidentally, wants to write heterosexual instead of here. It's obsessed). Time to catch up.

Well, as my last post attests, I rehomed four of the girls. I was very down about it all, but can happily assure you that they have settled in with their new owner very well. In fact, Gladys has got herself a boyfriend and Celia is going out and about meeting prospective keepers. Much as I miss them, I am confident that they will have long and happy lives in deepest darkest Derbyshire.

The remaining girls stayed with my chicken sitter for a week while we moved and did battle with the Palace. The builders didn't get around to laying slabs before the move, so the coop is stood on the newly laid turf. When it became apparent that the builders weren't going to lay the slabs any time soon, the decision was made to install the hens anyway. And this is where I made a near fatal mistake.

The girls arrived in a large cardboard box. As I lifted Mabel out to pop her in the house, the pup leapt up and got himself a prime piece of chicken wing. I froze. Mabel shrieked. The pup wagged his tail furiously, pleased with his faceful of feathers. I defrosted rapidly, and yelled the 'drop' command. The pup looked at me, jaws still clamped around a whole heap of flight feathers, as if to say: ' What? Are you mad? I've been watching these flappy, squawky things for ages! And look! I caught one! Yay!'.

My lovely chicken sitter grabbed the pup's collar, and I supported Mabel with one hand and tried to prise open the canine's jaws with the other. Mabel was staring at the pup attached to her, beak open in shock and a parody of surprise. The pup looked confused and less certain as I furiously yelled 'drop it!' and worked at freeing my top hen, feather by feather. After a tense few moments, the pup gave it up as a bad lot and let go. I quickly bundled the mauve of face Mabel in to the coop, and frog marched the errant pup in to the house. My fear made me furious with him, but of course this was all my fault. You can't blame a dog, particularly a spaniel, for wanting to chase chickens.

I can't tell you how much this incident shook me. I returned the other girls to the Palace quickly, my mood dark and my mind made up. The hens weren't safe here. I would become them.

And you know what? I very nearly did. I got as far as arranging for a lovely lady to collect them. The night before, I sat outside and let them explore the new garden. As Maude wandered over to me, gently enquiring as to whether I had any corn for her, I realised something. I love these birds. They are my sanity. Yes, it's hard with the pup. Yes, they eat all of my plants. Yes, they do revolting curry poos on the patio. But they're my girls, they make me smile, and if I gave them up I would forever regret it. So I called off the rehoming. I spent an exhausting day training the pup to stop running around barking at them. And this Easter weekend, when everyone else is spending time with their extended families and eating chocolate, the ever tolerant husband and I will be laying a new base for the Palace.

The adventure continues.


  1. Don't give up the ladies. The dog can be trained! We have a Golden Retriever and Jack Russell Terrier who have both learned that these are MY chickens. We also train lab guide dogs who've had to learn the same. Patience will pay off. Poor chicken!

  2. It's so good to hear from you - I had been wondering how things were these past few days.

  3. Ahh...Should have looked back before my earlier comment! I'm SO pleased. I too have a golden retriever who treats the chooks with complete respect (indeed, she loves them so much that when it's raining she goes and sits beside them on the patio, in the hope that her reproachful gaze will encourage me to let them ALL in to the kitchen)...I used to take her down to the run on her lead every day (she was 1 when chooks arrived) & excitement changed to indifference very quickly.I'm sure pup & chooks CAN co-exist - hope the process runs smoothly from now on