Tuesday, December 18, 2012
These chooks are reminding me of my children at the moment: pecking each other in the head one minute and curling up together sweetly the next.
I don’t know if there is a head of the pecking order, as each morning it’s a different chook doing the chasing or flapping, but they all seem to be equally assertive when it comes to competing for Lily’s leftover weetbix and the boys’ leftover porridge. They enjoy this breakfast meal more than all the vege scraps we also throw in each day and if, by chance, the children don’t leave leftover cereals, all three chooks squawk at the gate whenever any of us step outside.
Everyone is enjoying the new routine: Stuart opens the coop as he is always first up, Ned feeds them the breakfast scraps and has a chat in his “happy place” as he calls it, mid-morning they have a little chat to me while I hang the clothes out, late afternoon they watch the kids play and at 7pm on the dot (it’s uncanny) they put themselves to bed. All three huddled together on the perch in their coop. The perch Stuart built... The not-so-handy-man who said worriedly ‘I hope it holds all of them’ when I told him how all three were squashed together.
So far it has held all of them and despite the moments of fighting (or is it arguing or gentle teasing? It’s so hard to tell with kids...) they seem very happy in the middle of the city, in a backyard surrounded by three houses. They eagerly shoo the neighbourhood cats away and chase the pesky minor birds out of their run. You could say everything for them is perfect. Except for a certain lack of eggs.
Where are the eggs?! They have reached their laying age yet so far not a single egg. Stuart is perhaps the most concerned; his fantasies about an eggy Christmas breakfast and pavlova dessert are quickly evaporating. He is getting desperate. I even found a brochure in the kitchen the other day titled Tips for Rearing Layers.
“We’ve done everything right!” he exclaimed that night during dinner.
And according to the brochure we have. We even gave them a fake egg to practice sitting on in their nesting box. A couple of weeks ago, the fake egg would be kicked out, down the ramp most mornings but for the last week, it has stayed in its nest and the nest has been left undisturbed.
“Could that be a sign?”, Stuart wondered. “They must know that it’s a special place they can’t sleep in. It must be good they have stopped kicking the egg out”.
“Hmmm, but shouldn’t they at least feel the urge to sit on the egg now they don’t want to kick it?” I added trying not to laugh.
He looked perplexed.
“You know, the eggs have to come out eventually, it’s not like they can choose to not lay.” I said hoping to make him feel better.
On Sunday, while he cleaned out the coop out I heard him ask the chooks what was going on. They didn’t answer him – surprisingly – but then he overheard a conversation over the fence.
“The chooks on the other side have gone off the lay!” he exclaimed. “I heard the woman tell her friend that they haven’t laid for a couple of months now.’
“Why would that have anything to do with our chooks?” I asked.
He shrugged, “something in the air?”
Or maybe just chooks who, like our three children, definitely know their own minds.