I tried (unsuccessfully) to add to my chicken population just before lockdown, so I was incredibly excited to receive an email from my local poultry supplier to tell me she had new stock arriving. There were no pure breeds but if I was happy with hybrid hens, I could have three. My excitement knew no bounds and I disappeared into Chicken Woods to organise their accommodation.
Two years ago Richard bought me turkeys for Christmas – Duchess and Queenie. Duchess met an unexpected and sudden end but Queenie – the most sullen, lazy and unlovable creature – lived on in splendour in her huge, custom-built shed together with a large fox-proof run (although she hasn’t set foot out of her bedroom for about a year).
As she didn’t use the outdoor facilities, and our new additions would be egg producers, it seemed fair to downsize Queenie’s living quarters. However, she’s no featherweight and as she refuses to walk anywhere it would be a two-man job to move her. So, a week before the new chickens’ arrival, I enlisted the aid of my dear husband.
However, the evening before turkey removal was planned, I discovered the smallest of my hens had been so violently attacked by the others she had only one tail feather left poking out of her very pink rear end and her head was completely bald. She looked more like a tailless albino crow than a chicken. She had to be isolated quickly before it was too late, and there was only one prepared destination – Queenie’s new house.
I imagined after such brutality the little white chicken would give herself up easily to salvation. But no. After 15 minutes of chasing her around the run I finally cornered the beast, swooped down and scooped her up, only for her to squawk at me as if she had spied a rotisserie. Never mind, she was soon safe in her temporary home. However, with a new delivery of hens imminent, she would need
to move again so I could shuffle the turkey.
Next morning Richard was called to a conference call and as I’d arranged to collect my ladies that afternoon I’d have to sort the accommodation of my foul fowl on my own.
I dragged an old duck house and chicken run from the back of the woods and with a hammer and nails, chicken wire, lots of disinfectant, and one resulting blue fingernail, made a new home for my henpecked fowl. I captured the hen who, after a bit of squirming and a lot of screeching, was deposited in her new house. Now… the turkey.