I feel rather bad that Audrey and Mabel have more than their fair share of attention, while the hardworking hybrids who keep calm and carry on laying all winter don’t command the same kind of adoration. I love and respect the flock, of course – which has its own fair share of characters – but the twin Araucanas have so many lovely habits and attributes that I find I’m increasingly besotted with them.
Perhaps sweetest of all is the way they do absolutely everything together. I’ve waxed lyrical about the fact they laid their first eggs – Audrey’s a pastel blue, Mabel’s a pale khaki – on the very same day (negating the need for James and I to fight over who was going to have a poached egg that morning back in February 2010). But they also sleep together in the nesting boxes and both in the same bay during winter – they look like one white and brown pile of feathers, peering at me sheepishly when I open up the pop-hole in the morning. (Not only have they never taken to perching but they actually snuggle in the straw!). Once emerged, they hurry into their outer run to relieve themselves – that’s why there’s little litter to clear out at the weekends. These girls are so clean.
When they’re ready, they’ll head back into the undercover run for a breakfast of layers’ pellets, eating from either side of the hopper.
Then they’ll do the rounds of the outer run practically wing-in-wing, like characters in a Jane Austen novel taking a turn about the room.
Sometimes, I’ll open the gate and walk in to give them some corn in the afternoons and they’ll be down the other end resembling Machiavellian figures, their cute pom-pom heads in close conversation and amber eyes, just visible, looking at me with deep suspicion. If they’re hatching plans to escape, thankfully these haven’t come to fruition, though that reminds me that I must clip their flight feathers to prevent such an event. I simply couldn’t do without my Audrey and Mabel.