Remember our La Bresse Gauloise – French eating chooks – which we bought as eggs and hatched under broody hens?
Hell hounds of Hades, I hear you say (or maybe say), we’d forgotten all about the La Bresse, because it’s aaaaaages since she blethered on about chooks, which again some of you might see as a blessing.
Well, anyhoo, the La Bresse pullet is out in the general population, and the three cockerels are living together in a separate coop and run. They have been flexing their muscles, growing their tail feathers and bright red combs and wattles, and learning to crow.
This is comical. If you buy in pullets or hens and you’ve never had cockerel chicks, you’ll have missed the stage when they start to crow.
The first morning it’s a kind of strangulated gasp, like the sound when someone plonks a squeaky toy down on a hard surface. This then goes on for the next few mornings and you realise that someone’s trying to crow. Bless. Then the gasp becomes a longer note, just strangulated at the end. Gradually, day by day, it gets longer and more warbly until, finally, it’s a proper crow. Or something close to it.
There is no substitute for the proud, ear-splitting “cock-a-doodle-do” of a fully-grown cockerel, and the sight of it throwing back its head, wattles swaying, as it crows.
Perhaps, if you’re the neighbour of someone like me, there is a substitute – silence.
But back to my La Bresse boys. One is already spoken for, and will soon be away to join his very own harem. Lucky boy.
Of the remaining two, one will be gracing the Christmas table, and the other will either be going to a new home or into the freezer, for the New Year.
However, the Scots grey cockerel we bred as a replacement for our beloved Bruce is relatively slow to shape up, so far. I know they are a slow-maturing breed, but he almost seems afraid of his own shadow. A little younger than the La Bresse, he seems less forward, less bold. As yet, he shows little interest in the lay-dees, whereas his French cousins are pacing their fence, practically winking and beckoning the girls over.
Ah, ze French. Zey ‘ave ay way wiz romanze. Or maybe that’s my over-active imagination.
Perhaps our Scots grey boy will come into his own over the coming weeks.
If not, he may yet enter the Grand Christmas Draw too... gulp.