Our first-ever chick hatched from bought-in eggs was joined, within 24 hours, by three siblings.
And then there were four.
And they are proper, yellow, fluffy, cutesy chicks, just like the ones on Easter cards. The proper job. The YMs have been cooing over them in the ‘maternity wing’ coop and run they currently occupy. Their ‘mum’ is a first-timer, a young home-bred hen and, so far, she is doing a cracking job (please excuse the egg-type pun. sooooo not intended) and the chicks are thriving.
These cute little bundles of yellow joy are a breed called La Bresse Gauloise (no, no, no, they don’t hatch smoking filterless fags), famed in their home country of – yes, you guessed it – La Belle France, for their delicious meat. Poor fluffy, wee yellow chickies.
Anyhoo, the breed hails from the Bresse area of the Rhone-Alpes region and have a distinctive red comb, white feathers and blue feet, making up the colours of the French flag. As a premium product, they sell at a premium price – in France expect to pay around 15 euro per kilo. Heston Blumenthal is a fan.
Our next hatch, which arrived this week, did not do so well. Scots Greys, sent from way down in deepest Englandshire, where they eat scones with jam and clotted cream for breakfast and say ‘awrighter’ a lot. Devonia, I think it is called.
Between Wednesday and Thursday mornings, two chicks hatched. All good. Then later on Thursday I went out to check and another chick had arrived – and been squashed by mum.
This has never happened to us before and it was truly heart-wrenchingly sad.
By Saturday morning it was obvious no more were coming and we removed the remaining two eggs (whatever happened to egg number 6? We’ll never know). They were sloshy inside – no chicks.
Never mind, still the Silver Grey Dorkings to come.
Or ‘the five-toed freaks’ as they are becoming known at Shoogly Towers. Watch this space.
The idea is that we’ll closely consider any cockerels we get as a replacement for Bruce – not that Bruce could ever be totally replaced in our affections and in our flock.
But the girls are lacking in leadership. They have stopped leaving a Bruce-shaped space on the perches when they roost at night, but his absence is allowing something rather disturbing to develop – Cilla the cray-zee turkey is bidding for Brucie’s throne.
Like a power-mad despot, she harries and herds and nips at the hens – when she’s not being chased out of the coop by Gamford each afternoon, after he’s discovered her blocking up a nest box, with her ample rear sticking right out over the edge and the rest of her stuffed into a chicken-sized space.
As you start to winkle her out, she hisses. Psycho. Then she backs out and flaps out of the coop door, squawking, making a break for open space like a demented Roadrunner. Or a direct descendent of Rod Hull’s emu.
Not exactly ideal leadership material.