You know that nagging feeling, when you have an unfulfilled dream that won’t leave you alone? Well, I always fancied my own garden flock. I made the mistake of sharing this idea with my small son a few years ago. He’s a determined soul, so now we keep chickens. I blame myself.
Because chickens are a little bit prone to malfunctions and predation, I am now on my second small flock. They arrived at Easter – a suitably eggy season – from Moonridge Farm, a brilliant family-run specialist poultry breeder, here in Devon. Small son and I browsed pastures full of young hens with breed names like Sussex Rock (like Brighton Rock but less edgy) and Cou Cou Maran (probably a distant cousin of Zsa Zsa Gabor). We thought we’d choose three, but one thing led to another and we came back with four beaky beauties... I love them all dearly already.
Meet the Chickens
I should reveal that in our household we have a tradition of naming the chickens after London Underground stations. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.
First up is Henbley Park (from Wembley Park on the Jubilee line) She’s a Lohman Brown chicken and by far the friendliest bird in the flock. She’s also (literally) at the bottom of the pecking order. Don’t tell the others, but she’s my favourite.
Hatch End (technically an Overground station, but it was served by the Bakerloo line up until 1982, so it’s ok). Hattie is an absolute loon. She has no sense at all, and a Donald Trump hair-do. These two things may be related. She must be forgiven for all random acts of foolishness though (unlike The Donald) because she lays the most beautiful pale blue eggs.
Chicktoria (from Victoria, the light blue underground line and eponymous station) is a Blue Maran and far too beautiful to be touched. She’s somewhat anxious and would benefit from therapy. She is the chicken most likely to panic and set the others off. We all know someone like Chicktoria, right?
Finally, The Black Chicken, aka The Mistress of Darkness. She may have a name, but she hasn’t revealed it to us mere mortals. She rules the flock with an iron beak. Black Chicken is forced to punish the others regularly under her strict regime. Her rules are obscure and largely based on Black Chicken’s mood. We suspect that, while the others go to roost at night in their deluxe henhouse, she disappears through a haunted mirror to a far darker dimension.
I could ramble on forever about the chickens, but I can see four beaky faces indicating that it is meal-worm-o’clock. They’re very insistent. Darn it! I had a brilliant eggy recipe to share with you too – I call it ‘1-2-3-pancakes!’ – but that’ll have to wait til next month.