Julie Andrews says in the Sound of Music that when God closes a door he always opens a window. As regular readers will know, we had total senseless slaughter in the hen run (or as the local foxes would put it, an excellent buffet supper). I was left with three frizzle hens and three female chicks.
The chicks were promoted to the hen run, so that it didn’t look quite so empty. They were thrilled and the big girls were uncharacteristically welcoming. There has been a lot of excited exploration (“hey girls! Dust baths! Last one in’s a rotten egg!!”) But there was an aching void in the cockerel department.
Cockerels tend to be mega characters. They preen, and strut, and boast, and a hen run without a cockerel is a peaceful but slightly dull place. In one fell swoop I lost a party cockerel, a chilled cockerel and a slightly worried but very correct Scottish cockerel. The hens left behind are drinking cocoa and getting on with their embroidery, but things are so horribly quiet. No piercing crow in the early morning, or bossy summons to food, or alarm call if a buzzard is spotted overhead. Just – clucking.
So I put the word out that I needed a cockerel, and very soon a jostling queue formed. First I was offered a small red cockerel called Attila. The name said it all – his current owner couldn’t get anybody to housesit because Attila would zoom over at feed time and peck their ankles. Not what my girls (or housesitters) would like. Then I was offered a Yokahama cockerel, with an incredibly long tail. I visited him where he sat on a high perch, his tail sweeping down onto a clean sawdust floor. I tried to imagine him here, in the winter, mud up to his eyeballs and his tail waterlogged. No, again. Next I was offered a huge and magnificent cockerel the colour of the one on cornflakes packets. But my girls are tiny – it would be like adding a Shire stallion to a paddock of Shetland ponies. The search continued.
Then a friend of mine rang from the poultry tent at a County Show. She had seen a young pekin cockerel (my favourite breed) for sale at £5. Colour? Millefleur (my favourite colour). The deal was done, and she brought him back in triumph. He is very, very young and completely overawed by the old slappers in the hen run. But when he grows tail feathers he will realise that he is the only male present and will go straight to the very top of the pecking order. So there’s my open window: a gorgeous little cockerel with an amazing technicoloured dreamcoat (yes, I’ve called him Joseph).
I wish I could post a photo of Joseph, but Mikey is still out there in the wilds and he’s the only one who knows how to do it. He should be back next month, and then I will put up photos of Joseph, and Stinker Pinker (a transformed gander) and Indie the Pirate (remember him? Still a pirate).