We’ve been a one-chicken family for almost six months now, since Flamingo and Jewel both faded away and died within a couple of weeks of each other.
Fortunately, Winter the chicken seems to be immortal, growing fatter and sleeker every day, and her patience was rewarded at the weekend when she was joined by three more ex-bat chickens: Snowflake, Scooby-Doo and Kojak, courtesy of the British Hen Welfare Trust and the nice people at Foal Farm.
Kojak was my choice of name, after seeing the pitiful state our three new girls were in. This is the fourth batch of ex-bats we’ve adopted, and none of them were oil paintings when they arrived, but these three were particularly shocking: smelly, greasy, barely able to walk and almost bald. 😦
Kojak in particular seems to only have feathers at the top of her neck.
The coop is currently pretty crowded with four chickens, whereas previously we’ve had just three. We took three chickens – plus Winter, four – because in the past one of the new rescue chickens has always died, usually from the pure shock of being outside. They’ve survived for three days so far, which is pretty good, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
But to improve the odds of their survival I called in a chicken expert on Facebook, my friend Emma, who generously sent us some little woollen jackets for them: one red, one greeny-blue and one lilac.
And so it was yesterday I spent half an hour in the garden putting woollen jackets on bald chickens.
They took it better than you’d think.
Once I’d grabbed a chicken, sat it on my lap, been pecked once or twice and got a jacket over their heads they were quite calm and seemed resigned to their fate.
The only chicken in the garden that isn’t calm at the moment is Winter, who takes every opportunity to chase and harass the new arrivals; hence, she’s been locked up in a separate part of the coop while our newly fashionable ex-bats find their bearings and get settled.
I go out regularly to check on them – there’s always someone’s claws to be disentangled from their woollen coats, but otherwise they seem to be doing well, considering how smelly, greasy, barely able to walk and almost bald they are.
But as my chicken’s namesake used to say: who loves ya, baby? 🙂