Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007-2013. Please give credit where credit is due.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Late spring chicken update : foxes, bullies and claw foot

Twenty-one degrees at 8:30am. Overcast and once again I've opted not to water the garden in anticipation that the local weather gods will see to it for me.


Little boy blue,
Deliver the goods,
There's hens in the prato
And a fox in the woods
And where's the boy
That looks after the chicks?
Lying in a puddle of sunshine having a gentle post-lunch snooze...

Yup, the fox has cubs to feed and where better to go looking for lunch than our place? The chick-herd awoke from his Sunday slumber when one of our eight Bionda piemontese hens broke the sound barrier in her efforts to escape old Vulpes vulpes, who, a nanosecond later leapt across his legs in hot pursuit. The hen lost plenty of feathers and ended up with a nasty bite in her side, but the chick-herd's world-famous windmill imitation sent the fox back into the depths of the woods. Following our tradition, the hen now has a pension and will not end up in the soup at the end of her laying life like her coop-mates ...

Talking of which, at the weekend we defrosted the bully, who turned out to be really enormous. He produced roast breast and wings to serve four, 6 litres of stock (that's 6 vegetable soups for two), chicken curry for four plus leftovers. That's 20 person meals, several purring cats and a very pleased dog.

And finally, the 21 youngsters have been moved from the bathroom to the coop and are growing like Topsy. They now have real feathers instead of just down, and are gaily bouncing around the place making tons of rose feed. They are here called Big gray, the males being white speckled grey and the girls being a warm patterned brown. Both males and females are noticeably less skittish than the Bionda piemontese, and B. has embarked on a campaign to make friends with as many of them as possible.

This year's lesson in chicken rearing : claw foot doesn't have to be fatal.


We feel bad that we jumped the gun somewhat when three of our four self-hatched chicks developed claw foot in their second week, and we disposed of them in the belief that this must be a genetic defect brought about by inbreeding. Read about it here.


When we bought a batch of 20 chicks, one developed the condition, and I begged for a couple of days in which to try a cure. The magic potion turned out to be one teaspoon a day of an infant formulation of vitamin B complex bought over the counter at the local pharmacist (she's by now used to my strange requests, in atrocious but apologetic Italian). The condition turned out to be a form of cramp caused by B2 deficiency. The suffering chick was miraculously back on its feet within 36 hours, and preventative application of the syrup to the water supply has meant the rest of the crew didn't develop the condition at all.


So, as the sun moves round to shine into our kitchen window and, finally, onto our small terrace, the chicks are growing fast and the hens are laying faster. The children are full of homemade pasta and chicken curry, and on our neighbours' doorsteps there are occasional gifts of surplus eggs.


And ... best of all ... the chickens still make me laugh.



8 comments:

Cairo Typ0 said...

That's really cool that you're raising your own chicks!

Chairman Bill said...

Can't keep chickens at the Folly. Too many damned foxes.

Vanessa said...

They are funny to watch, aren't they!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant little story. Read it out to mum who had a smile on her face.

ladyfi said...

Glad they make you laugh... but are they really all going to end up as chicken breasts and soup?

Poor Bully...

Stresa Sights said...

Ciao Louise! I stumbled onto your blog yesterday while searching around about the Stresa Festival. And I've been reading ever since. Your story and your writing is wonderful...

...and I feel like we are neighbors, as my blog is all about Stresa. Unlike you, I don't live there (yet), but I visit every few months and field questions from tourists in between.

Best of luck to you with all of your endeavors there... I'll be back here reading often.

Dana

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I love this! I love the poem, and the story, and I'm so glad you came up with a cure for the ailment!

Joy said...

I'm so impressed with your many chickens (let's hope it stays "many") I'm sure that neighbor is happy when the surplus in eggs comes their way.


Joy

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Late spring chicken update : foxes, bullies and claw foot

Twenty-one degrees at 8:30am. Overcast and once again I've opted not to water the garden in anticipation that the local weather gods will see to it for me.


Little boy blue,
Deliver the goods,
There's hens in the prato
And a fox in the woods
And where's the boy
That looks after the chicks?
Lying in a puddle of sunshine having a gentle post-lunch snooze...

Yup, the fox has cubs to feed and where better to go looking for lunch than our place? The chick-herd awoke from his Sunday slumber when one of our eight Bionda piemontese hens broke the sound barrier in her efforts to escape old Vulpes vulpes, who, a nanosecond later leapt across his legs in hot pursuit. The hen lost plenty of feathers and ended up with a nasty bite in her side, but the chick-herd's world-famous windmill imitation sent the fox back into the depths of the woods. Following our tradition, the hen now has a pension and will not end up in the soup at the end of her laying life like her coop-mates ...

Talking of which, at the weekend we defrosted the bully, who turned out to be really enormous. He produced roast breast and wings to serve four, 6 litres of stock (that's 6 vegetable soups for two), chicken curry for four plus leftovers. That's 20 person meals, several purring cats and a very pleased dog.

And finally, the 21 youngsters have been moved from the bathroom to the coop and are growing like Topsy. They now have real feathers instead of just down, and are gaily bouncing around the place making tons of rose feed. They are here called Big gray, the males being white speckled grey and the girls being a warm patterned brown. Both males and females are noticeably less skittish than the Bionda piemontese, and B. has embarked on a campaign to make friends with as many of them as possible.

This year's lesson in chicken rearing : claw foot doesn't have to be fatal.


We feel bad that we jumped the gun somewhat when three of our four self-hatched chicks developed claw foot in their second week, and we disposed of them in the belief that this must be a genetic defect brought about by inbreeding. Read about it here.


When we bought a batch of 20 chicks, one developed the condition, and I begged for a couple of days in which to try a cure. The magic potion turned out to be one teaspoon a day of an infant formulation of vitamin B complex bought over the counter at the local pharmacist (she's by now used to my strange requests, in atrocious but apologetic Italian). The condition turned out to be a form of cramp caused by B2 deficiency. The suffering chick was miraculously back on its feet within 36 hours, and preventative application of the syrup to the water supply has meant the rest of the crew didn't develop the condition at all.


So, as the sun moves round to shine into our kitchen window and, finally, onto our small terrace, the chicks are growing fast and the hens are laying faster. The children are full of homemade pasta and chicken curry, and on our neighbours' doorsteps there are occasional gifts of surplus eggs.


And ... best of all ... the chickens still make me laugh.



8 comments:

Cairo Typ0 said...

That's really cool that you're raising your own chicks!

Chairman Bill said...

Can't keep chickens at the Folly. Too many damned foxes.

Vanessa said...

They are funny to watch, aren't they!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant little story. Read it out to mum who had a smile on her face.

ladyfi said...

Glad they make you laugh... but are they really all going to end up as chicken breasts and soup?

Poor Bully...

Stresa Sights said...

Ciao Louise! I stumbled onto your blog yesterday while searching around about the Stresa Festival. And I've been reading ever since. Your story and your writing is wonderful...

...and I feel like we are neighbors, as my blog is all about Stresa. Unlike you, I don't live there (yet), but I visit every few months and field questions from tourists in between.

Best of luck to you with all of your endeavors there... I'll be back here reading often.

Dana

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I love this! I love the poem, and the story, and I'm so glad you came up with a cure for the ailment!

Joy said...

I'm so impressed with your many chickens (let's hope it stays "many") I'm sure that neighbor is happy when the surplus in eggs comes their way.


Joy