Poultry in motion

Why is watching chickens so relaxing? No matter what else is on your mind, it seems that just a few minutes spent in their company dispels any other thoughts. Their gentle movements during activities such as eating, scratching about, preening, dust-bathing and, of course, laying, somehow mesmerise us, while the range of cooing and clucking sounds are surprisingly soothing. Is it because the sheer simplicity of their behaviour and purpose contrasts so starkly with those of our modern, complicated lifestyles?

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Lavender cuckoo Araucana Margot is now a firmly established character at The Smallholdings

Whatever it is about observing these charming birds, it works a treat. Perhaps time with a flock could be made available on prescription. Or as part of British Airways new in-flight entertainment initiative Slow TV, it could treat its long-haul passengers to videos of hens carrying on with their daily business. Currently, it includes a seven-hour train journey through Norway with footage of the landscape, villages and towns filmed from the side of a carriage, someone knitting and garden birds feeding. I’m pretty sure that my amateur efforts would end up on the cutting room floor, but I thought I’d share them with my fellow poultry enthusiasts here.

I still harbour ambitions to one day set up a hen-cam to record them while we’re absent – it would be fascinating to see if there’s a difference in the way they interact without humans around. We could also catch on camera whatever creature is gnawing holes in our chicken wire fences. We suspect it’s a fox wanting to feed cubs, but haven’t had this problem before due to, we think, the scent of our three dogs around the plot. Anyone else under siege at the moment?

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