Our beloved Jeffrey, who was thrown in for free when we bought four pretty Araucanas in late spring, has just lately shown all the signs of adulthood. Back then, at just five weeks old, he was more fluff than feather, and James especially enjoyed heading down to the coop, scooping him up onto his lap and having a cheeky cuddle.
We’ve enjoyed watching him grow over the months, keeping him friendly by stroking him and his increasingly magnificent plumage and indulging his whims – he loves eating corn direct from our hands (a painful experience without the protection of a thick glove) and the scoop. Being the novelty male, he probably gets more of a fuss than the rest of our flock, though he is now redressing this imbalance by turning his attention to the ladies himself.
There was quite a kerfuffle among the hens last Sunday and I couldn’t think what the noise was due to, so I headed down to see what was occurring and found Jeffrey trying his luck with one of his harem. Then another and another. He’s suddenly woken up to the fact that he is surrounded by a selection of beautiful hens – and it’s his job to not only guard them (rather touchingly, he and the girls travel round the garden in a group these days) and herald the morning, but to ensure there’s a new generation of poultry. Perhaps we’ll try incubating a few eggs this year to see if we can raise their young. We like the idea of taking on more cockerels – after all, breeders sadly have no use for the majority and they dispatch them after only a few hours, days or weeks. It’s just the need for more fencing and coops as they tend to fight – in spring particularly – over their territory and womenfolk. There isn’t enough weekend already for the jobs we already want to complete, so inviting more Jeffreys into the fold will sadly have to wait. The Henmobile’s taken a backseat while James concentrates on our spare room – putting up a ceiling and getting the walls ready for plastering so we can use it as a nursery. I’m incubating one of our own at the moment: our baby is due in May. I’m hoping to have a home birth, so we’re especially excited about the prospect of that particular delivery at The Smallholdings this spring. Other thrilling recent events include the fact that Araucana Margot started laying her stunning pale-blue eggs at the weekend! A whole month earlier than expected! Happy henkeeping all.