Monday, 19 November 2007

Stalag 57

They’ve dug their way out, they’ve ram raided their way out and now they are ganging up on me in a surge for freedom…my chickens don’t like being caged.
However as a voluntary registered poultry keeper I have done my bit and my chickens are interned for the duration.
The bio-secure cage took two days to build and during that time I fed and watered the flock indoors – this was quite a tricky job as the hen hut is not exactly commodious and nor does it have a solid floor.
After tripping up and spilling the water all over me and then slipping on it rather painfully across the slatted floor into a heap of outraged feathers I decided it would be appropriate to wear Wellingtons and overalls rather than nightwear and slippers for such a job.
The cage is such that no wild birds can enter and nor can the rats. It is supposed to prevent the chickens from escaping as well – we’ve had to make a few modifications…
There is an outer fence about five and a half feet high and spanning that a roof leading to a mid point about six and a half feet high which in turn leads up to the apex of the hen hut at about eight foot. The fence is chicken wire covered with a plastic fruit cage covering being light enough to create a roof without me having to do major works, which I would have neither the money nor time to complete. A new gate is heavy enough to swing shut when I enter and if I say so myself looks OK.
It was such a relief for all when I could at last let them out. They shot through the door, slithered down the ramp and came to a rather stunned stop. I had tried to disguise the fact that they could not wander around as much as before (30 ft square versus 4 acres) by bringing in a load of windfall apples and putting up roosts and a huge pile of chippings to play in but freedom is after all freedom and however many things you are given to play with just doesn’t match up.
It has been pathetic to see them all hunched and miserable, the cockerels’ tails drooping but it seems they do not give up hope. Within two hours the chicks and several of the bantams had escaped by scratching a hole underneath the gate and it wasn’t until I saw Ollie, (my rather large white cockerel) struggling to squeeze himself rather unsuccessfully underneath that I realised we had had a break out.
It seemed pointless running round the farm trying to catch the escapees and so I let them all out in the hope of feeding them all back in later in the day. In the meantime I amused myself by digging the earth out round the door and struggling to lay a large piece of stone at its base. Mission accomplished and it was time to get them back in three hours later and in the dark I gave up.
Strangely enough the following day I was able to feed all the stragglers back in which goes to prove that either chickens have short memories or that their stomachs are bigger than their brains.
There were no escapees until the afternoon when Ollie and Stanley (Ollie’s glamorous half brother) managed to throw themselves at the gate until it popped open. I repeated the previous day’s performance but gave up much more quickly and surveyed them rather dolefully from my office window as they pranced around in the sunshine in the orchard, scratching vigorously at the earth and chasing each other round the apple trees or else walking sedately behind the proud cockerels. My heart was very heavy watching them. Their last day of freedom…AGAIN.
Now the gate is tied with baler twine and so far no escapees… I deliver scraps from the kitchen and windfall apples and they lay eggs and are resigned: I think…but you never know quite what they will do next….

17 comments:

Withy Brook said...

Poor old Tattie - and the chickens. All I can say is that, although they don't know it, better to be incarcerated than get the flu and die - no?
The whole thing is so dreadful. And it seems to have disappeared from our attention. Maybe we should be pleased about that as it presumably means that there have been to new cases. Thinking of you.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Oh dear how horrid for you and them!We had to confine ours to a covered run last year and I hated fact that wild birds kept getting throttled in the fruitcage netting I had to put up as a roof.

Elizabethd said...

Bet they are planning a Chicken Run escape!

Suffolkmum said...

I was thinking of Chicken Run too. But seriously I know it must be awful. It's not a great choice - restricted living or deadly flu - and of course they don't even know there is a choice.

Hannah Velten said...

I know that this is a serious problem, but you've made me laugh with your descriptions of the break-out chickens. They'll be building a flying chicken (aka Chicken Run) before you know it - poor things. However, I think you are doing a sterling job trying to keep them entertained in such trying circumstances :) Mootia x

Crystal Jigsaw said...

This damn bird flu is a complete pain in the bottom. Your poor hens are suffering and I feel so sorry for them.

I often let ours out in the morning whilst still in nightwear and slippers! I only hope nobody sees me in my long pink fluffy dressing gown. The hens don't seem to mind anyway.

Take care and give your hens a big hug from mine.

Crystal xx

Fennie said...

Paaaaaark, puk, puk, puk, puk, paaaaark! Why am I shut up? I want to wander free. I shan't lay any eggs at all.

At least though you can count yourself lucky that chickens do not possess that explosive lift off that pheasants have.

Good luck.

lampworkbeader said...

I hate to think of them all cooped up. It maust be horrible for them and you.

Cowgirl said...

They sound like a right double act, those two! It must be hard work trying to keep them all confined when they are obviously such adventurers. CJ's comment is a reflection of myself - often I go and move the cows in my nightie with my Gumboots on - very glam! But hopefully too early to be observed!

Potty Mummy said...

OK, I know the situation is dreadful, but the thought of you feeding the chickens in your nightwear and slippers made me laugh out loud. Well done for finding humour in all this Tattie.

CAMILLA said...

Such a worrying time for you Tattie, and poor chickens being cooped up. Thinking of you Tattie.

Camilla.x

PG said...

TW, just found your message to me in the purplecoo site, have replied at once, soz didn't see it...

Poor chooks, they must wonder what it's all about. but better safe than sorry, as my mum used to say.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Sad, sad, sad. You have the descriptive powers to make me laugh and feel so sad in the same breath. As a lapsed Catholic I would suggest saying a wee prayer to St Jude - he's the patron saint of hopeless cases and he often comes through for me. I think he'd probably like chickens too!

All the best.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

By the way, have you visited Breezy break blog? She has hilarious tales to tell about her chickens and their perpetual break outs on a regular basis. You may just have a lot in common and her blog is fab.

http://breezybreakblog.blogspot.com/

annakarenin said...

Caught some of these goings on in common room. I only have two hens and would sorely miss seeing them pottering around my garden sometimes they are waiting in the front or by the back door when I come home.

Re 11.11 funnily enough it struck me whilst at the memorial service how had I been living back in the time of the two major world wars I could have had my whole family taken away from me just like that. Probably happened o many wifes and mother's of all boys. It upset me quite badly to think of it. To suddenly find yourself all alone like that.

Pipany said...

Oh I know this well - the endless striding along the barricades, the plotting with beady eyes, the planning and determination...and that's just me Tattie! Flipping hens and ducks are masters of escape strategies. you have my sympathies!!! xx

Frog in the Field said...

Life is never dull when you have animals/livestock around.
Darling Husband's calves have deided my lawn would be a nice place to be and escape from the field every day to wander around our house and garden!
Why don't you keep them in?
"Because they like it..look at their happy faces" Doesn't he know, farmers are supposed to be cruel and heartless and put their calves into dark cramped conditions, not all soppy?? Bloody farmers!

Go on you know you want to...

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin