It had been almost two months since the catastrophic chicken carnage. The egg supply had finally been depleted and we were still weighing up the choice between rehoming some battery hens or supporting heritage breeders. The decision was made last weekend when I was lucky enough to have an abundant supply of burly lads around to move the chook cage to a better location closer to the house. As it happened, that same weekend there was a notice up on the KFC Project's page for some ex-battery hens. We set up a pen on Sunday morning then made the long car trip out to Ipswich to pick up the four easiest to catch hens from the latest rescue batch.
Well I say it was a long car trip out there but in all honesty we had a lunch break and then a lovely tea break at a friend's place on the way. Actually it was the car trip home that could have gone a little faster. The air was frequently punctuated by pungent odours wafting from the back seat as one of the four chickens would remind us that she most certainly did not enjoy being shunted around the countryside for the second time that day. Nevertheless we did not sink into stupor with the overpowering smells and made it home without careering off the road in a flurry of chicken feathers and cardboard boxes.
Finally reaching their final destination we opened the cat cage that I had thankfully had the foresight to line with cardboard and took the lid off the cardboard box releasing all four girls into their new life in Elysian Fields of lush green grass complete with seed-heads ready for nibbling and thin patches begging to be racked into luxurious dust baths. Admittedly it didn't quite happen like that. The girls remained in their boxes and had to be lifted out, flapping their wings in protest. They didn't quite seem to know what to do with their new surroundings. The juicy blades of grass meant nothing to them. The watermelon skins were left lying lonely in the open like tumble weeds in a Western film; only the sound that rang through the air was not the quick-draw shot of a gun-slinging cowboy but the clink, clink, clink of the nearby chain-gang working in the mine.
|The chain gang working hard|
The poor girls obviously didn't know any better than to be obsessed with pecking at the bolts on the cage or the holes in the star pickets. Either that, or they were determined not to be caged ever again and were working fast at dismantling any potential new prison. The only other feature of their new home that sparked interest was this new-fangled water dispenser thingy in the corner of the cage. It took one girl at least five minutes of pecking at the overflow spout on the water dish (a repurposed and of course cleaned oil drip tray) before she figured out she could drink straight from the surface.
|Did you honestly think you'd catch me looking at that watermelon?|
Despite the culture shock of the new place, the four girls are adjusting to their new surrounds. They've laid 6 eggs in a week and one has even figured out what that straw-lined four-sided, odd-looking contraption is meant to be for. They did eventually, at least I presume it was them, realise the joy of watermelon after I left the remaining rind in with them overnight so they could try it out while I wasn't looking and not have it snavelled by a crow with a hungry mouth to feed besides its own.
Next on the list for expanding their culinary repertoire is capsicum. They ran off today after I dropped the seeded part of the fruit in their midst today as if I had dropped a grenade. While they were a little less terrified when I put it in their cage tonight their looks were still dubious. No doubt the rolling thunder and lightning tonight didn't alay their fears of having entered a war zone. I wonder what they'll think of tomatoes.