Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone etc etc. This week – sad news. Long-suffering readers of this column and its predecessor may remember tales of the Roadrunner.
She was one of our oldest chooks. You can always tell the oldest in any herd/flock/swarm because they have names. I find that once you get past about 10 of anything you cease to name them.
Roadie, as the Roadrunner was affectionately known, was a Cream Legbar Cross, with a floppy comb and feathery topknot, which gave her a wild look. She had kinda crazy eyes in a Mel Gibson (circa Lethal Weapon/Braveheart) way and the determination of Andy Murray to win Wimbledon (congrats, Andy!).
The first night she was here she leapt out of the run, deciding to roost in a tree.
“Hold the torch up here, I’ll get her,” says Mr E, pulling back the branch. Before I could oblige the branch slipped through his grasp and like a feathered Exocet, she pinged across the wood – straight into the side of the workshop. After sliding down cartoon-style and landing in a heap behind a laurel bush, she was an easy catch. Slightly stunned, she was definitely more manageable, but from that day she was a little bit, shall we say, more Frank Bruno than Sugar Ray Leonard.
She and Gamford developed a love-hate relationship.
In the pre-Patterdale days, when chickens sometimes hopped the fence and went walkabout around the garden, Roadie took to an afternoon stroll across the gravel to a favourite bush, where she would sit for a while and produce a lovely blue egg. As ‘laying away’ is one of the biggest crimes a chook can commit, this made her Gamford’s public enemy No 1.
The animosity intensified when the big fence went up and then Jock the Patterdale arrived. Roadie still felt it was her birthright to escape and lay away. At one stage Gamford observed her leaping on to a stone dyke, walking round on it and jumping down by the gate to then stroll up the drive and access her special bush.
This resulted in Gamford cutting enough hedging material to form a green buffer zone to foil her, creating something so large, green and bushy that it resembled the Normandy bocage. He was crestfallen when a few days later he found her strolling up the drive again, practically whistling the theme to The Great Escape.
Lately, she had mellowed quite a bit, becoming almost tame. Alarm bells rang. We discussed only the day before she met her end that she must be getting on a bit and due for the Big Coop in the Sky.
Then it happened, We were all sitting around enjoying the evening sun and a BBQ tea when suddenly a squawking and flapping. Around the corner, a puff of feathers and Jocky had claimed his latest victim. Poor Roadie. Like an old lady escaping the nursing home to swim naked in the river like she used to do as a wee girl, the Roadie had been having one last Hilts moment, over the wall and down the drive ... and into Jock’s jaws. RIP Roadrunner.