big ideas from a little garden

tales and stories of how we make the most of our garden and our terraced house.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Taming of The Shrew

 *a Cuckoo Maran
Here at the tinyholding we have taken possession of a new hen. Due to the passing of Ollie; Rip, a true Gent of a cockerel and a beautiful boy, we had room for one more. True we are at the limit but we have no intention of getting any more and restricting their space. We were quite happy to just keep to the egg laying committee we had, but the opportunity of a beautiful Cuckoo Maran came up. She had be raised from egg by a good friend from the land of Downsizer.The chance of chocolate brown eggs was far too good to pass up.
And so.....Enter Maggie.
In true style she was going to be name Daisy as most of the girls have flower names. She is not a flower! Oh no!
She may well be the devil herself!
I was warned that she was a little, ahem, feisty. She sat in her box all the way home from Welshpool like a veritable angel. She was brought into the house, sweet as a kitten. Then DD said "let's have a look at her then"
I merely opened one flap of the box and all hell was unleashed upon us. She exploded into the living room with a flurry of claws, beak, feathers and squawking. It is safe to say DD was afraid, very afraid. Possibly wondering what I had done to unleash such a fury upon him. She was chased down and tucked safely under my arm. I tentatively tickled her chin (fearing for my fingers). A sure enough, given a couple of minuets she was all gentle cooing and fluffiness. We popped her back into her box with a drink and something to eat after allowing her a ten minutes wing stretch. It was, after all, 10 pm.  There she spent her first night at the tinyholding.

The following morning came around and DD did his usual round of feeding and watering the demanding crowd. Again lifting the flap and expecting docility. Silly DD! Chickens don't have a lengthy memory. I was summoned with the slightly worried. "MD, she's OUT!" She was making eyes at the gecko, no way was she going back into the box.
Now, I have integrated many a chicken to a new flock. I isolate the new girl leaving them with the ability to see each other. When the mutual running at each other has stopped within a couple of days they get to play together but sleep apart until I sneak out at night, and put new hen next to big boss hen on the perch. It has never failed.

Having a slightly new set up since settling in at the tinyholding I would have to rearrange some sort of run.
DD says "Let's just pop her out and see how they get on". I, myself was more than a little dubious but thought, we can alway intervene if needed.

Here is how it went. Darcey (the cad) grew a couple of inches. I am sure he was standing on tippy toes. You could almost hear the spirit of Leslie Phillips emanate from him "Hell-o". He promptly popped his step ladder under his wing and went in hot pursuit.
Pecky eyed her with some distant speculation. Biding her time to show her who really governs around here. After all, she does have the Thatcheresque barnet. All other hens have been allowed to *think* they rule the roost and she will casually let them stretch their proverbial wings. But, get too full of themselves? Not on Pecky's watch!
Gwynn and Snowbell trotted ever so slowly up to her. She pretended to mind her own business. Scratching for grubs. Slowly, slowly, catchy Maggie! Shuffle, shuffle, peck, scratch, look the other way. Closer, closer until, wham! feather and wing at the ready. Who's the biggest? Well, after around 4 seconds, clearly it was Maggy. Gwynn was shown what for. She did not pass go she did not collect her hundred grains.
The frat-house hazing that Snowbell had clearly put her up to had failed. Gwynn is still  the new girl! Snowbell takes one step toward Maggie. Intent on sorting this issue out herself. Maggie looks at her. I must say, I have never seen a chicken shuffle backwards before. Her wings metaphorically in the air "Okay, okay, every-thing's cool here. It's your garden now."
During the kerfuffle Rosie and Violet raised the sweet little heads and started their turbo chicken decent of the garden. About a third of the way they stopped dead in their tracks and beat a hasty retreat.
Then comes the surprise. After her five minute affirmation of the garden she spent the rest of the day perched upon the old garden bench, with the other girls exchanging coos. She has settled in as if she has always been a part of the gang. Even Snowbell seems to be happy with her company.
This, however is not the end of her tale. She is clearly a wanderer. The very first evening DD went to pop her away. She had not, after all, been shown her accommodation. The Bell boy and chamber maid had been a little lax. She was nowhere to be seen. DD hunted, I hunted. We then hunted together. Nothing. Damn it!
We decided to leave it for the night as she may have gone to ground under the shed or some such thing. Around an hour after their bed time there was knock upon the door and the time old question "Have you lost a chicken?"
"Yes", we yelled in unison.
Fortunately she had decided to pay a visit to the local animal fosterer. The lady (and grandmother of the cubs friends) who takes in every waif and stray. We were told we could pick her up in the morning as right now "she was sleeping". I'll bet she was! She had made it across around 20 gardens to get to her destination.
She has now been returned to the garden and her new joint committee members. One wing clipped and happy.
In all the handling over her first few days she has become quite docile. She now will be picked up, with a small amount of persuasion and given a chin tickle. Always handy for mite and foot checking.
In all the adventures we have, indeed, Tamed the Shrew.
Many thanks to Pookie for our latest girl. She is delightful!
*photo yoinked from  The Devonshire Traditional Breed Centre
for beautiful cuckoo maran pullets contact Rosie Pointer