'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Henrietta Chook


We have an Only Chook, Henrietta.
She turned up at a local country school with her husband and, with a picture of a delicious brown egg a day, I took her on (Cocky had to go elsewhere as crowing is not allowed in town).
She has been in residence for two months and so far has laid zero eggs.

I like chooks and usually have a little flock of six or so. When I get sick of the garden looking too tousled, I pen them up and move the pen around, but it doesn't seem worth it for just one.

When Henrietta came to us, she would only eat bread. She didn't appear to know even the rudiments of poultry behaviour, e.g. Scratching = Food; Worms = Good; Humans = Too Busy to Feed You All Day. She just stood around waiting for her daily bread. I wondered if I'd been wise. She seemed a really dumb cluck.

But over the last two months she has learnt a great deal. She found out where the mash was and helped herself until it was better stored. She now enjoys the gourmet treat of wriggling worm. She has learnt to scratch a living for herself. She discovered the back porch is dry in the rain despite having a whole hen house of her own. She had us all fooled at first, but it appears she's a really bright chookie.

Last week she discovered the cat flap.
Unfortunately the flappy bit doesn't stay affixed since the Shelly-Pippin chases through it. So it's open most of the time.
Henrietta spent a considerable portion of her time standing out in the porch listening to the voices of the Bread-Givers inside.

Yesterday I looked up from my desk and she was strolling past, and out the front door. Incursion by a solo chook.



16 comments:

  1. As she is failing to produce eggs, perhaps coq-au-vin should be on the menu at the weekend. She looks nice and plump.

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  2. Ah, We couldn't do that YP. She's too much of a pet.
    Anyway, you can't eat Shaver Browns. No meat on them. They're bred for laying, even if they don't.

    Nice to see you're back using your usual Nom de Blog.

    Oh, meant to say, have you 'Google Earthed' Valencia? Someone's gone to the trouble of rendering almost all the inner city buildings - frabjous! Must have been a super holiday you had.

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  3. "They're bred for laying, even if they don't."

    You can't throw softballs like that!@

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  4. Don't know much about this... chickens are not something I've had hanging around the house, except in the freezer or fridge. ;) I do have friends that have raised them and gotten a vast amount of eggs. Just wondering, does she need the crow of a rooster for inspiration to lay the eggs? For some reason it seems like I've heard that. Might play a recording of a male rooter crowing for her (where others won't hear and you won't get complaints).

    Ok...like I said, I really don't know much about chickens... ;) Loved seeing her though...cool that she just strolls through your house.

    How have you been feeling, better I hope!

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  5. Sam ... I think it's logical... They don't lay down meat. They are tough as old boots cf the 12 week-old meat birds you buy from the supermarket/ eat at Kentucky Fried.

    Sis - thank you for your thoughtful comments. No, Chooks don't need a rooster to lay eggs. Not even the sound of one. She's just lonely I think. They are flocking birds. Might find some more friends for her.

    I am... getting there. May I email you? I'm sure no-one else wants all the details of how I am. :o)

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  6. You must have extreme powers of concentration and focus not to know that a chicken is walking around inside your house!

    And, as someone who grew up around a flock of chickens (I was the egg gatherer for the family), I must inform Sistertex that it most definitely is NOT "cool" that a chicken just strolls through one's house (even if Katherine may tell you otherwise).

    This used to be the poultry center of Georgia, and we have the falling-down chicken coops and residual smells to prove it. Country air isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

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  7. Hens are quite sensitive...it takes them quite a while to settle in a new place, but by the way she's exploring her new domain, it sounds as though she'll soon feel confident to present you with you a lovely breakfast treat. Just don't let her read Mr. Pudding's comment...that'll set her nerves all a jangle!
    I love the thought of her pottering through the house. x

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  8. Robert - shhh, I was probably playing a game on the computer.
    Henrietta left no trace she had been inside! She would have got the bum's rush if she had!
    But commiserations on the pooey smells leftover from housing vast quantities of poultry. One compensation is that well-rotten chookie poo grows excellent vegetables.

    Elizabeth, you are quite right, they are very sensitive. And it is autumn now too. She'll probably molt soon and then may start laying again. But I'll definitely keep her away from YP.

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  9. This is one of my favorite stories. I love chickens and have always wanted to have a few around the place. Not a really good idea in the city.

    We owned a peach orchard for about 15 years. It was in Fredericksburg, Texas and we lived in Corpus Christi, Texas. But, we always kept pet geese and ducks. (They could get along on their own.) Fowl make really good pets. As for eating, my husband says they are foul...his little joke.

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  10. Thank you Judy. I like ducks and have had turkeys but for some reason never geese. A close friends was once scared by a goose and perhaps her story rubbed off!

    An orchard is a great spot for poultry. They are great cleaner-uppers of leftover fruit and also get the benefit of the shade under the trees in summer.

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  11. A bright hen sounds like a contraction in terms but I shall take your word for it. Me, I like ducks - they can swim underwater, they fly, they float and they waddle like I when I walk with my 58 year old gamey leg.

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  12. Ah Alden - you feel you can relate to ducks? I used to like them too but I had two Khaki Campbells that used to ... er ... 'visit' my hens. Went off them after that. But please do not read any connection at all between my first two sentences.

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  13. Too funny... we're raising ten this year, I've still got to build their coop! But they won't be wandering around inside :)

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  14. Beau - I thought it was funny too. So yours are just little chickabee-bees yet?

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  15. oh wow! that's too cute!
    How funny. Wee Henrietta is a lot brighter than my lot, that's for sure.

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  16. DC, I think she has time on her ... claws.

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