Mission accomplished. We’ve now found a fellow lady Araucana to keep Audrey company, with the help of blog follower Karen, who recently kindly introduced me to the breeder via Preloved (thank you, Karen!), and a browse on the British Araucana Club. Both websites pointed me in the direction of an enthusiast based on the edge of a Suffolk village near Newmarket. So off James and I drove (via one of our favourite market towns, improbably pretty and thriving Clare) with a cardboard box to collect the pure-breed beauty. We arrived at Wendy and Alan’s delightful smallholding to see an impressive collection of fancy fowl divided into a variety of pens and runs.
There were Malaysian Serama bantams and pretty Marans running about the place as well as dozens of lavender, black and white Araucanas at different ages. Wendy showed us to our lavender cuckoo girl, who has a pretty stripe through her plumage, like her namesake, and we were smitten. Naturally, we took up Wendy’s offer of showing us around the other pens (we love to learn about fellow henkeepers’ set-ups) and were next introduced to the black Araucanas with their iridescent feathers and elaborate headgear, as is true to type. Five minutes later and we’d chosen three young point-of-lay ladies. Moments later and we’d fallen head-over-heels with a sweet seven-week old cockerel, who – being surplus to requirements – was thrown in for free. Those Araucanas are so moreish! We stopped at a total of five (having intended only to buy one chicken!) – and needed to borrow Wendy and Alan’s proper plastic poultry crate in order to transport them.
Once we reached home, we placed them all in the dog kennel and run until we could clip their flight feathers and settle them into their respective new residences under the cover of darkness. Not only are they most docile and therefore easy to handle at night, but if the incomers are already settled into the coop when the others wake up in the morning they are generally thought to be more readily accepted. Unfortunately, any chicken introduction generally results in the youngsters getting a bit of a hammering – and squawking and mounting – as the pecking order re-establishes itself. And this one was no different: on Sunday it was all kicking off.
We decided to keep the tiny young cockerel in a separate coop to give him a chance to get a little bigger before he faces the rest of the flock.
With him and our own homegrown Ixworth boys we like to think we’ve laid the foundations of a future breeding programme, which may even see us attempt to mix East Anglia (where the latter originates) with South America (homeland of Audrey and our five newbies). An Ixworth x Araucana anyone?