More on chickens
When running a busy B&B, finding time for the thoughtful reflection needed to write a blog is a rare luxury, but today, with no guests arriving and the rain steadily falling, it’s a perfect time to catch up on what’s been happening at Llarrinda.
So, I’ll pick up on the topic I left so long ago … chickens.
Soon after declaring our affection for these beautiful creatures back in 2019, we impulsively ordered online a rather grand chicken McMansion – the ‘Cluckingham Palace’ of chicken coops – the size of a small B&B. Well, nearly. It arrived in 18 huge flat-pack boxes that each contained dozens of individually numbered pieces of wood, that first had to be painted twice before being assembled. It was like an IKEA project on steroids! It was brilliantly designed but, contrary to the accompanying video that showed it being constructed by sweetly smiling people in a single weekend, it honestly took us two years, and the first Covid lockdown, for our chicken palace to reach completion.
The result was fantastic.
While our chickens were always going to have the freedom to roam our land by day, the palace was designed to be spacious enough for them to live in comfortably when we needed to leave them in for a few days. Beryl and Cheryl were our very first chickens, given to us by good neighbours. They were gorgeous girls and would just as happily have lived in our house as in the chicken coop, as every time we left our front door open, they popped in.
We have no idea how old they were, but they didn’t lay many eggs, and they sadly died within a few months, despite their many (expensive!) visits to our Vet. As with our sheep when they die of old age, they had a full funeral and were sent off to chicken heaven with our love and gratitude.
Our next chickens – all six - have been brilliant. A source of immense pleasure and magnificent eggs for us and our guests. We discovered that white chickens lay white eggs, brown chickens lay brown eggs, and Cream Leghorns lay blue eggs. And the yolks of each are the deepest, richest orange colour imaginable.
It was a guest who named our white chicken Vicky, after Queen Victoria. The brown chicken he named Lizzy, after Queen Elizabeth. A few days ago, Lizzy came to tell me something very important, but as I don’t speak Chicken, I missed the urgency of her words. It was too late by then anyway.
As I counted the chickens in for the night, after a day of foraging, beautiful Vicky was missing. A panicked search ensued, and I found her perfect white feathers on the grass below our deck. We’ll never know for sure, but we were guessing it was a Brown Goshawk who came to claim her, or possibly one of our local Wedge Tailed Eagles.
I know we all must eat, but Vicky was the finest chicken we’ve ever had. She was elegant, and brave, and the leader of her flock. With all our other chickens molting and not laying at the moment, Vicky’s beautiful white egg was the only one to be collected that morning. Her last gift to us. R.I.P. beautiful girl.
P.S. The very next day it was Dusky who didn’t come home, so two chickens gone in two days. The culprit is now more likely to be a fox. Such a cruel end to two short but beautifu lives. So, for now, our remaining chickens – Penguin, Lizzy, Rainbow and Silky - are confined to quarters for a week or two, in the hope that Mr Fox, Eagle of Goshawk will forget about them and move on. Meanwhile, we have wonderful memories. They enriched our lives.