The Cottage Smallholder

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Zebedee the Houdini hen

Photo: Dr Quito and Baby

Photo: Dr Quito and Baby

When our new Italian hens arrived I divided our long run into two. The old flock of four bantams and one Maran stayed on one side. The Italians took over the other side. This was largely due to the size of Baby. This tiny Leghorn runt needs to grow a lot more before both flocks can safely combined. The Italian hens are very different from our flock. Lazing in the sun, taking endless dust baths and staying up much later to strut on the roof of the Ken Doherty Day Centre. The Min Pins are still fascinated by them and sit in the long grass outside their enclosure, licking their lips and sniffing their new cousins through the wire.

I went down to the kitchen garden yesterday evening I knew that something was wrong. Zebedee was calling. She was standing on top of the nesting box in the old hen’s enclosure. Somehow she had broken through the wire, without leaving a hole to get back home.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the wire in the Italian zone, Baby was crying and pacing to and fro on his tiny legs trying to break through the wire to get to his protector and sister. The Italian gentlemen were agitated too, in a beautiful strutting sort of way. Dr Quito and Inca stood motionless, noses pressed to the wire.

“It’s easy.” I thought. “All I have to do is open up a door in the netting. Catch Zebedee whilst blocking the hole with my foot so none of the Italians escape. Pop her through the hole and fasten it tight.”

Zebedee might trust Caroline and Kevin but she clearly was nervous about getting cosy with me. She flicked, just out of reach on the chicken house roof. Meanwhile the first Italian gentleman strutted through the hole to get acquainted with Beatyl – our senior cockerel.

I managed to tempt him back into little Italy with a handful of corn. Zebedee was much more wily, she’d peck some corn with one eye revolving to watch for grabbing hands. Meanwhile Carol (large senior Maran hen) decided that Z’s corn was tastier than the stuff that she’d been given and hoovered up the remains of the grain. About 200 grams of corn later, Carol was tempted to the other end of the run. Just as I popped Zeb back over the border another gentleman escaped under the wire.

Baby was delighted to be back beside his big sister and the shrieks of joy drew the new escapee back to the wire. This is a gentle cockerel. I picked him up easily and escorted him back home.

Today I’m planning to clean out both runs when I’ve stocked up on a bit more corn. We will be closing our naming the new cockerels competition on Sunday midnight.

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  1. Jane aka:aromatic

    Aldo and Beppe, are two names that come to mind.
    Jane xxx

  2. I love that photo. It is sooooo Gary Larson.

  3. Italian hens conform to national stereotypes, then!

  4. Caroline

    oh my! she’s a clever cookie that Zebedee, we’re glad they are settling in so well, tempting with blackberries always worked well lol has she flown to perch on you?

    Caroline x

  5. Naive Zebra

    Hen Solo , is my effort for the naming

  6. Michelle in NZ

    I guess Zebedee the hen is way bolder than my Zebedee rescue cat. My Zeb would probably run away and yowl for rescue if confronted with any hen, in fact with any bold birdie.

    Wish you happy chook raising, and aa happy supply of gloriously scrummy eggs for a long time,

    Michelle and Zebbycat all ready for the parental invasion come Saturday morning.

    Huggles to all, Michelle xxx

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