lovebirds

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I’m at home when I hear her alarm call. I know Matilda, my single remaining hen is safely locked in her outdoor run, having just been out to feed her that morning; but still, she continues to cry.
Outside, I greet her, stroke her feathers, & realise she isn’t calling. She’s still and silent, preening gently, while that shrill alarm cry still sounds. For a long confused moment I just stare, and then feeling ridiculous, I open the roof of her coop to check the dark insides. I jump out of my skin.
Sitting there, shouting away, is a fluffy little brown hen. As soon as it sees the daylight it leaps out and down, running across the cobbles, wings akimbo, me gaping & blinking after it.
‘A Daddy one!’ shouts Orla. ‘Where’s the daddy one gone?’.
Home, I assume.

Two days later I’m heading to work when I spot it again, hiding in the bushes. It’s clearly living here, and hasn’t roamed more than a few metres since its last appearance.
The next day it is still there, and when I throw it some food, it devours it hungrily.

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So, the day after that, I cautiously let Tilly out to say hello. I say ‘cautiously’ because she isn’t always the most welcoming of hens; she’s extremely dominant and delivers violent pecks to anything that poses a threat. It’s probably why the poor little thing was so alarmed in the henhouse.

But today, an hour later, they are snuggled up together, dust bathing – a happy, mangled mass of legs and splayed feathers and clouds of soil. That night the brown one follows Matilda to bed, and that is that; they are bonded, and ‘the Daddy one’ has to stay.

& that, of course, is when we realise that Orla was right. This little brown hen is no hen at all, but a young, juvenile cockerel. It grows more obvious by the day; his legs are thicker, tight with muscle so that he walks stiffly and upright. His tail feathers, originally just tipped in black, begin to gleam with iridescent green and purple in the sun. Suddenly it all makes more sense – why someone had let it go, perhaps even dumped it in our hen-house. Why Matilda had been so submissive and affectionate to this sprightly young new comer. She’s in love! πŸ˜€

& so, for now, nothing changes. Once he’s fully grown he may have to live a little more wild again, but we’re waiting to see how it goes. In the back of my mind is the thought that Matilda does still lay eggs, which means maybe, just maybe, she might end up mothering a few chicks. The idea has me excited – very, very excited – until a letter arrives from the council, announcing the village grump has complained about Matilda, and we have to move her house… πŸ™

  • Aww how lovely! A companion for Matilda! Let’s hope you do get some chicks, we’ve currently got our broody hens sitting on some duck eggs as we’d love ducks again! You just have to turf them off their nests every day- chickens can be so dumb sometimes and end up near death as their instincts tell them to protect their eggs! Alice xxx

    http://www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

    • Oh I’d love to watch Matilda go broody SO much! She’s a crossbreed so it’s fairly unlikely, but love makes strange things happen right? πŸ˜‰ I’ve no experience of a broody – will need some serious googling if it happens! x

      • Do cross breeds not go broody? We have cross breeds and they seem to so you might be lucky! It’s not too hard, you just have to turf them off every day so they eat and drink! Xxx

  • Sheona

    Where do you think you’ll move her? Wasn’t it the other villagers who said to put her there?!

    I don’t know if I told you that we have chickens at school now πŸ™‚

    Sheona x

    • Oh that’s ace! Every school needs chickens!
      We have a few options to consider, but yes – it was his son who suggested we put them there, although it’s not entirely clear if it was douche or douche Jr who made the complaint. Regardless, the new rooster is called Henrik now πŸ˜€

  • akanekinomoto

    This was such a lovely post. Made me smile and wish I lived in a place with a yard like I used to have at my parents, with all the hens and ducks and rabbits running around… Thank you for this. πŸ™‚

    • Ah, what lovely memories of your parent’s place! I’d love to have the whole lot – as it is, I think the Village Grump is quite fortunate I restrain myself to just a chicken or two! πŸ˜‰ x

  • Siobhan Watts

    What a gorgeous story! I love it when animals seem to fall in love. Elkie has a little boyfriend called Marco (also a Tibetan Terrier) and they’re pretty inseparable x

    • Ohh how sweet! Except… they must have to live apart? This gives me conflicting feelings… you are essentially Lady Capulet here… x

  • Rebecca Harrison

    I loved this until the village grump appeared. You need to get all ‘fly my pretties’ on that kiljoy.

    • YES. Am going to train Matilda to shit the words ‘your hair looks average today’ on his patio every morning x

  • Samira Hales

    I want her to have chicks! It would be the perfect end to the perfect love story! (Also, please may I have a couple?!)

    • YES! lets start thinking of names for them now, as it’s really only a matter of time. Chicky and bunny? x

      • Samira

        Sounds brilliant! Or we could ask O to name them, I’m sure that would make it even more brilliant! X

  • Oh, this made me smile, Sara. That is, until the village grump appeared on the scene. I’m quite hooked now and have to know what happens next!

    • Stupid village grump. I shall keep you posted – I don’t back down easily, so it could be quite the saga… πŸ˜‰ x

  • niki thomas

    Tell your Village Grump that if you live in the country, then you have to live with ‘country smells and country bells’, and everything else country!

    • Yes! Yes indeed! This basically is the content of my letter of appeal to the council. It will also form the basis of my ‘scandal story’ for the local newspaper when said letter fails – ‘local council tells young mother, no chickens in the countryside’. Haha! x

  • TheDaydreamerDiary

    Oh this sounds like a brand new domestic adventure, and I look forward to the sequel!