Today, Mama's babies are 17 days old. All the children hereabouts have visited, petted, cuddled and occasionally dropped a chick in the past couple of weeks (and with Easter upon us there are plenty of juvenile feet crashing up and down the staircase in search of fluffy love).
For the last few days, however, the chicks have been blessed with the power of flight and have taken to jumping out of their cardboard box and, Gremlin-like, have been wreaking havoc in the bathroom.
Now I used to live in intimate co-habitational bliss with a herring gull, brought as an injured chick from the Castelli di Cannero. It doesn't bear thinking about now that the house is more, shall we say, civilised (it's all relative), but it does mean that Mama doesn't mind the chicks.
She doesn't mind having 21 chicks hurl themselves at her across the floor like so many plump, fluffy bullets every time she comes into the room.
She doesn't mind when they get into the food sack and spray grain everywhere.
She doesn't mind that slimy, squidgy feeling between her toes.
And she really doesn't mind being sat on like a statue in Trafalgar Square when she's herself sitting and trying to get to the end of the Economist book reviews section despite the fluttering of tiny wings.
But perhaps the cat might do more than take a lively interest in the lively goings on.
And perhaps we all might decide that a little showertime privacy would be nice.
|"No peeking, cheeky!"|
And perhaps the avalanche of Easter guests about to dump itself on us starting tomorrow might mind the slime, the smell and the uncertainty of stepping into a seething mass of yellow fluff.
So today was the day for the class of 2011 to fly the nest.
On arrival at Palazzo Pollo, their new quarters, the little ones were immediately sized up by the cockerel. I should explain that when this brood was conceived there were two other cockerels besides this one. Our grand 4-year-old cock died, perhaps trying to keep up with the youngsters in the procreation stakes, and one of the two yearlings went in the freezer, leaving this fella uncertain of his paternal position...
|"I want DNA tests on the whole lot of 'em before I show them where the worms are..."|
And arriving in situ, they formally met some hens that may or may not be their mothers.
|"Are you my Mommee?"|
And now Mama is an empty-nester, and is so sad that she has started wondering if anyone would notice if she half-inched a few eggs every day and quietly warmed up the incubator again...