Five make a flock

I worried that my two chooks were pining for company, particularly since Betty Blue died. A pair didn’t seem quite right. Egg production was down. Dora’s eggs were thin-shelled, broken, or missing shells altogether. Popcorn went through a couple of broody phases, and we had to buy eggs. Then she began laying her occasional eggs in a nest she made under a fern by the woodpile and, once, behind a tree. Perhaps she was unsettled by Dora’s broken eggs.

My niece was ‘all egged out’ with her three chooks, Betty, Mabel and Vera (BMV), and she and her partner want their lawn back now they have a baby. So BMV have travelled, along with their hen house, from Dunedin to my place.

Now there are five chooks at my back door waiting for treats – or for a chance to sneak inside, perhaps. And more for me to do with ‘poop patrol’ and swabbing the deck. Only Dora and Popcorn get up on the outdoor furniture. The new chooks are far too polite.

They don’t mix very well together yet, but seem to sort things out between them. Dora turns into Godzilla (or her tyrannosaurus rex ancestor) if the new chooks are near food she has her eye on or if she just feels like chasing them for fun. That’s the pecking order, I guess.

For a day or two BMV overnighted in Popcorn’s fern nest, but they sleep in their own house now. Dora and Popcorn don’t go inside the new hen house. Two of the new chooks, however, have decided that laying their eggs in Dora and Popcorn’s nesting box is a good idea. Popcorn told the whole neighbourhood about it at first, but now she happily lays her egg with theirs. That seems to be healthy flock behaviour.

Dora and Popcorn inspect the palatial hen house of the new chooks.

BMV seem to be of an even temperament and stick together, often eating out of the same small bowl at the same time – something Dora and Popcorn never do, although they are usually together as well.

When I lift the lid of Dora and Popcorn’s house, they like to hop in and scratch about in the straw.

We often have surplus eggs now, which go to my sister and her family. With two teenage boys, they use a lot of eggs. When they drove to Dunedin for the older boy’s IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) competition before Easter, they kindly brought the chooks back, having taken their trailer to transport the hen house, and three cat carriers for the chooks (who travelled in the car).

This cartoon from the Listener gives some idea of what an IRB competition looks like!

Here are three happy chooks enjoying the sun.

Overall, a good result: a functioning flock, in full production:

Three eggs from three new chooks. The smaller one at the back is Popcorn’s.
Rhubarb muffins made with BMV eggs.

Bring me sunshine

It’s raining at last. It was great to hear the rain bucketing down in the night on the dry garden. This morning there’s a mix of rain and sunshine and the garden looks washed, fresh and sparkling.

The chooks are sheltering on the deck where it is both sunny and dry – but only 10 degrees centigrade. Heat pump and woolly socks are on for us indoors!

Yesterday I was in the garden all day. It was warm but overcast. Then in the evening the sun appeared below the nor’west arch lighting up the trees and make the flowers glow.

I find myself singing Bring me Sunshine today, with its cha-cha rhythm, and playing the Morecambe and Wise version which I have added to a playlist of Make me Smile songs. When I joined Singing for Pleasure at the WEA I started a playlist of the songs we sing. Now I have several more playlists including Childhood Favourites, Drive (for long journeys), Shiver up the Spine, and even Chicken-themed songs. Every day I wake up with a song or two playing in my head.

Today’s song is apt because the sunshine can be figurative: “Bring me sunshine in your smile. Bring me laughter all the while. In this world where we live there should be more happiness, so much joy you can give to each brand new bright tomorrow…”

This couldn’t be exemplified better than by this wee chap whose photos, arriving regularly from my niece, bring a day full of sunshine!


What a complicated thing a family is! I accidentally (almost) stumbled on WikiTree and went down the rabbit hole of genealogy. I’ve never been interested in family research, but I felt honour-bound to correct and complete details about my family on the site. Much of it I knew myself or could ask my mother. However, this was my father’s side of the family and none of his immediate family are still living so there’s no-one to ask. I’ll have to take a very deep breath if I decide to fill it all in, let alone begin on my mother’s side.

Family that’s right in my face is more to my taste. And there’s plenty of that to be going on with. Here’s my mum, the oldest of the clan at 92, holding the youngest aged one month (at the time of the photo). She is now a great-grandmother to this wee chap who was born on her birthday in January.

A baby brings out the best in everyone. Love overwhelms you and touches everyone in the room. On this family occasion we were celebrating two 21st birthdays and a 90th birthday. There were happy tears as births and childhoods were recalled. The 90 year-old and his late wife have always shown enormous love and nurturing to their grandchildren and now the grandchildren are doing the same with the new baby.

And this is me, a happy (fairy) godmother to my 21 year old niece and now a great-aunt! It sounds very grand. Perhaps I will work on that family tree.