Saturday was the day that three new additions were brought into the coup affectionately known as Peckingham Palace. This year I haven’t let any of my broody hens sit on eggs, with five cockerills already in the coup I wasn’t prepared to up the male population, never being too sure just what sex will hatch. I had ten hens to five cockerills and as some of the boys aren’t very gallant some of my more promiscuous hens look as though they are oven ready and in need of a little sunscreen.
However a friend of mine who had a cockerel from me about four years ago decided to let her broody hen sit on one of her eggs, so I knew that the cockerel was the daddy, and some from another coup. Oh oh thought I, if this one turns out to be a hen could I have it? Yes of course was the answer to that question.
The little chick that hatched is we think, well we are pretty sure, well we are hoping, is a little girl (fingers tightly crossed) and is so sweet with her little topknot. She was ready to leave her mother and it was decided that I would buy another two hen chicks so that she wouldn’t be lonely away from her family. An expedition was formed of three Brits and one Portuguese person to set off to the country market in Azinhal, a little village not far from where we live.
This market is very different from the Gypsy markets with more stalls run by local people selling everything from melons to goats, from poultry to lambs. Two little chicks were selected from one of the stalls and popped into a cardboard box, my husband, I’m like the Queen and don’t carry any money, paid for the two new creatures and off we went to see what other goodies were on offer. Purchases included basil in pots, melons and yellow plums and of course we had to stop and have a coffee or two.
Next we had to go back to Amalia’s house and get the little chick she was kindly giving to me. Up until this moment all had gone smoothly, this was going to end very soon and big time!
Amalia wasn’t able to get far enough into her coup to catch the chick and with four other chicks and the mother and the father in there mayhem ensued. Amalia’s coup has a rather small entrance, just large enough to put food in and clean them out. A small boy was extracted from a nearby house; he’s Russian so that added to the international flavour of this endeavour. He, unbeknown to us had let his family’s Labrador puppy out and so bedlam broke out. The puppy just wanted to play and set off four other dogs, the chickens were kicking off; the small boy was up to his waist in the coup and chaos ruled.
However sometime into this debacle a small hand grasped the correct chick and all became quiet and calm. The small boy extricated himself from the coup and grinning handed Amalia the chick, he had such a look of triumph on his face. Manoeuvre over, hooray.
With three chicks safely in the car we set off home and put them into a small coup inside our rather large one.
They will live there for a week to ten days before I release them into the world of larger hens, cockerills and open spaces. Goodness only knows what they will make of the pecking order they will have to endure. Hey ho at least with me being a vegetarian they wont get eaten!
Yes they do have names; Francesca (named after her Mum) is the little hen Amalia gave me, Olympia is a dark golden colour and Jubilee is pale gold and white. I thought their names should reflect Britain in 2012,