It’s hard to say if the remaining two hens miss their mate. I was reading all sorts of reactions into their behaviour over the next couple of days, but who knows? They have continued to lay eggs as usual. Dora excelled herself with a whopper on Tuesday. I expected the hens to go off the lay in winter, but it doesn’t seem to be the case with these chooks.
They stick together a lot, as usual. When the sun is out, they find a dry spot for a dust bath by the wheelbarrow, where I keep pea straw.
I feel sorry for them in this cold weather and give them plenty to eat and treats such as sunflower seeds. They tolerate the blackbirds, sparrows and wax-eyes which fly down for left-overs from the feed trough and bowls. When I am in the garden, they like to inspect what I am doing, pulling apart raked up leaves to look for insects, and just being companionable. They like to perch on garden furniture to groom themselves or, in Dora’s case, to do her job as sentinel. Popcorn retains her position as head hen.
They can move mountains of earth, earning them the nicknames Fulton and Hogan, after the earth-moving and road construction company. The soil becomes so aerated that it has risen considerably above the level of the paving stones by the wood pile.
I’ve heard that some people turn their chickens out onto the vegetable garden before they plant. One of my chooks’ well-tilled spots looked so good that I was delighted when I found a small dome at The Warehouse. Popcorn and Dora were keen to help, of course. I distracted them with silver beet and kale leaves while I quickly planted some vegetables and secured the protective cover.
They say that people come to resemble their pets. I’m amused to see that my shorter hair cut has unleashed my natural wave into wings, giving me the look of a startled chicken!