At last my chicken house has some residents! First I swapped a fancy mobile phone (a temptingly nick-able hot potato I was glad to get rid of) for two fat hens. Then my friend Joe presented me with a third one, skinnier but cannier. In a rather unfortunate allegorical way, Atwooki is fat, white and domineering, Abwooli is thin, brown and bullied, and Atenyi, the last to arrive and a beautiful shiny black with purple bits, is so scared of the others she spends most of the day hiding in the hedge.
To date the chickens have firmly resisted all effort to contain them. I painstakingly erected a metre-high chicken wire fence, but they quickly learned to outwit me and fly clean over it whenever my back was turned. Then, with much squawking (chickens) and shrieking (me), I managed to catch them long enough to clip one wing each. Despite what I was told, this made no difference at all and they continued to shoot merrily, if a bit wonkily, over the fence at every opportunity. I then got a bit fed up and, in a frenzy of flying feathers, chopped the second wing back as far as it would go. It has stopped them flying but it hasn’t stopped them breaking through the bamboo bit of the fence where I ran out of chicken wire. So despite my best efforts, the chickens continue to run riot through the compound covering it in huge, sludgy turds and eating everything they can get their little yellow beaks in to. They have scoffed all my neighbour’s strawberries and kicked my pea plants out of the bed. The only person who seems to have any control over them is the compound’s resident two-year-old, Nino, whose new hobby is to chase them around in circles prodding them with a bamboo stick.
They also show no hesitation about wandering in to the house. My chicken policing hit a new low today when I came home to hear from flatmate Ciaran, recently returned from
Worst of all, they have laid a single egg in nearly 3 weeks. When I complained about this to a passing Irish woman, who happened to be a chicken inspector in a previous life, she suggested they might actually be male. Apparently, the only way to tell is to check their pelvic bone structure which I feel a little unqualified to do. Another way might be to get a cockerel and see if he can jolly things along, but then I don’t think I could handle cockadoodledoing in my ear from dawn to dusk. I will seek further counsel.