You wouldn’t have thought I’d win the “best mother award” if you saw me this morning…
I locked Camila inside the chicken pen.
Not because she was driving me insane and I needed a break, but because with Fintan being away, and our faithful Don Ramon nor is daughter being around at weekends, I needed to change the drinking water for our chicks and didn’t have a cleverer choice.
Just before leaving Fintan bought 8 more chicks which happened to require a separate chicken pen from the existing one. That is because we learnt, chicken are not the clumsy innocent feathered darlings that they look. They are actually quite vicious and pick on each others. We had to kill two chickens in one day a couple of months ago. The big fat white hens shamelessly displayed their featherless butt and such nakedness seemed to have aroused the desire for meat in the slender black egglayers.
They picked at their bums until there was a big hole in them and so we had to put an end to their misery and kill them. And when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘she’, our beloved Carmen…
Carmen told us they would do the same to the little chicks so they needed their own corral.
In said corral there was me this morning juggling a wriggly Camila, kicking away the chicks trying to pick at my feet whilst undoing the fiddly wire that holds the watering can off the ground. Oh dear… So I decided to think organic and wondered “what would the locals do?” and before even thinking twice I put Camila down and carried on with my business.
To my surprise she was rather smitten with the joyous flock of chicks scampering around her. She grabbed them, held them to her cheek like she does when I tell her to be gentle (in Camila’s world ‘be gentle’= give cuddles) and even kissed them. They didn’t seem to mind such attention, much more personable than my throwing-a-bouquet-of-alfa-alfa way of showing affection. And they didn’t seem to pick at her. So I closed the gate behind me on my way out to the tap, and went on to fill up the watering can for them, leaving Camila inside.
I looked over keeping an eye at the cute social-services-emergency-call worthy image and thought: life is beautiful.
Even more beautiful now that all chickens are laying eggs.
Fintanella, our prodigy hen, named after Fintan for their matching necks, was the first to lay. She is a darling, ridiculously clueless, and I think will always be our pet.
The excitement when Fintan came in the house with the first egg! Especially when he said Fintanella did it.
We are now getting 8 eggs a day, sometime less, sometime more. Eggs seem to be the only thing our picky Camila would enjoy all the time and is such a relief not having to buy them in town and keep our fingers crossed they’ll all make it through the bumpy road home intact.
Despite having made 4 beds with dry banana leaves and hay, Fintanella insists in laying in the original Royal Mail box we first used. When I go in to clean the koop, sometimes I happen to catch her laying. She looks so funny when she sits in there. She gives you the same look of someone you caught having a poo by opening the cubicle door without knocking first.
The reason why all chickens are now happily laying eggs is because our rooster dynamic has changed. We ended up with just one rooster, and not even one out of the original four we bought. Those all got eaten after our Carmen and her dad deemed them all unsuitable for copulating (apparently they were too fat to perform), and so we ended up buying a fully grown rampant rooster which we named Gustavo. He ejaculates pride and power from each of its colourful feathers and grandfatherly wisdom from his floppy crest.
According to our rural teachers Don Ramon and Carmen, a rooster that does his job correctly will boost eggs production. And what eggs they lay! You need sunglasses to look at my custard now!
After various observation days, Camila and I came to the conclusion that Gustavo is in actual fact a gentle giant, he loves his chicks and cares for them. When we throw kale in their pen he lets them eat first. Even his cook-a-doodle-doo is not as pompous as you would expect by looking at him.
We might even upgrade him to Sir Gustavo if he carries on like that.