The bantam previously known as Slapper

You may remember, if you have nothing else to do with your time, that one of the youngest bantams disappeared a few months ago, to come back three weeks later with a hatching of chicks. Sadly, the weather turned awful a couple of days later and this inexperienced little pullet couldn’t cope. In the end, just one chick survived and *he* is doing fine. Yeah, certainly a boy, which is very upsetting.

I named this young tearaway Slapper, which isn’t very kind but I was fed up. Anyway, she vanished again the other evening. I knew what had happened this time and searched around, but couldn’t find her. However, the next day, Rose spotted her ambling around. So I casually followed her. She spent a while with the other chickens, then headed back to the kitchen garden, then into the chickens’ greenhouse, where she had a drink. I thought that it would be a good idea to fill a bowl as well as the drinkers, so went to get a watering can, which I’d filled earlier in the day. But I was too late, because Slapper had left the building.

Luckily, I spotted her again, near where I feed the feral cats. I hid, because she’d spotted me too – chickens, with an eye on each side of their face, have a wide visual range. Hilariously, they aren’t so good at seeing what’s under their beaks, so have to turn their heads one way and then the other. I’m so fond of chickens, they make me laugh in a very friendly way. But I digress.

Eventually, Slapper moved purposefully and I noted the direction. After a while, I went to check – she has chosen the craftiest hiding place, where she’s barely visible. It’s very close to where she nested before, in fact, but even more deviously placed. I would never have found her and it was my final chance, as she hasn’t budged since. As it is, I know that a sensible person would haul her out, put her on a few old eggs and leave her until she gives up. But I’m not very sensible. We really don’t need more chickens, and more than half of a clutch are inevitably boys, which is also bad news. But I’m not very sensible and I confidently assume, whilst knowing it’s not true, that all chicks are hens if I believe they are.

Anyway, I’ve changed Slapper’s name to Polly Garter, from Under Milk Wood, who had yearly babies and didn’t care what people thought of her. I’ll have to move quite a lot of things before I can catch her and put her in a coop, but I’ll let her settle for a while first. In the meantime, I also discovered a cache of 20 eggs, from different hens, and they need to be dealt with. I can’t cope with any more, so I phoned the Rector’s wife and offered some this afternoon. They have three children, so were very pleased to accept. I gave them the newest eggs, obviously, because I’m polite. I put them on the doorstep, rang the bell and ran away. Social distancing and all that.

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