Plank is the chicken who escaped, last time I was in Reading. Not to be confused with Pillock, the cockerel that I accidentally let escape a few weeks earlier.
I ended up feeling rather fonder of Pillock than of Plank. He’s got rather a sweet nature and wanted to be friends, though was too nervous to come close enough to be caught. I wasn’t surprised that he refused to go back in the chicken’s greenhouse, because the other cockerels, while not being antagonistic to each other, respect their various spaces without being at all friendly. I dread the day they start to fight and, for that reason, know that it’s too late to reintroduce Pillock. But Plank was less friendly, but more assertive towards the barn cats, all of whom were afraid of her and, though she wanted to go home, refused to go through the damn door.
Plank had been laying and I’d started to remove the eggs. But then she changed her laying site, unsurprisingly. A few days ago, she became less reliable about turning up for meals and, the day I was due to come back, Wince found her sitting on eggs. Wink removed them, to Plank’s fury – when I came home, I put most of them back. If she sat, I knew where she was and could catch her. And that’s what I did yesterday. I hardboiled four eggs and, when they were warm, went to pick her up, popped her in a nestbox and tucked the eggs under her. The rest of the eggs, I put on the compost heap.
This morning, whether she knew the eggs had been tampered with or just wasn’t that keen on sitting, she came along with the others for mealworms. She’s the only pure white bantam, so distinctive. Also, one of the eggs on the compost heap had vanished and the others had been moved about, so I hope a hedgehog found them. This evening, an extra egg had been laid with the hardboiled ones, which has confused me slightly – I brought two eggs up to the house and think I know which is the new-laid one.
Pillock is still outside, but I don’t see what I can do about him. If I could catch him, I could put him in a coop but he’d be just as lonely and not have his freedom. He hangs out with the cats, who tolerate him. I put out food for him and talk to him, just to pass the time of day, as one does with an acquaintance.