It’s been near freezing all day. Started with freezing fog and didn’t warm up much. Not that it mattered much to us, we weren’t going anywhere. We were, however, disconcerted to find two chickens ambling around looking hungry. They had evidently got shut out the other day and have been roosting somewhere in the garden, only eating what they could forage. I gave them food and wondered how to catch them. We left the porch door open all day, with a dish of corn temptingly on the mat, but they were too cautious.

One was Mary, the only chick of Foster back in the spring, and the other was Foster herself. I managed to get Foster in with the others this evening but I’m not sure about Mary, who’d vanished. Either she scuttled in while I wasn’t watching or else she’s sleeping rough again. Unfortunately, having to leave the door ajar to get the girls in, two young cocks got out. One of them is still out, silly thing.

Mary is so called after the Blackberry Farm series of little children’s books which I adored when I was a small child. Each book told the story of one of the farm animals – the duck was called Walter and wore a scarf to keep his neck warm. I seem to remember that the pig was Henry, but I could be wrong. Mother Hen only had one chick, Mary, so any single hatchling is given that name by me. My Mary is quite distinctive because she’s bigger than most of the bantams, very shy, and she has a single black and white feather on the edge of each wing. She’s light brown otherwise. I don’t usually name chickens unless there’s a reason for it, mostly because I don’t find it very easy to tell them apart. Thank goodness I didn’t have twins. I wouldn’t have had a clue. My facial recognition skills are better than they used to be, but still barely adequate and chickens mostly look alike to me. I do have one splendidly multicoloured one though, who’s black, brown and white in exuberant blotches. I’ll probably name her, when I think of something.

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