You'll know by now if you read Andy's blog (which, of course, you do - why wouldn't you? It's entertainment of the highest calibre) that yesterday, sadly, we found Daisy Hen dead in the pod in the late afternoon. We don't know what happened - the day before she had laid an egg, seen a ginger cat smartly off the Much Malarkey premises, and hoovered up lots of worms from 'neath the stepping stones that I lifted so she and Primrose could have a shot of protein buglife.
She was a hen who just went down. No warning. Her time had come and she was catching the Express train to Chicken Heaven. It was sad. She was a smashing hen. She'd been a regular layer for us for over two years. She was a character. But she has gone.
Well, of course, Primrose couldn't be left on her own. Lone hens do not thrive well. She needed a companion, a chum, somehen with whom she could continue her chicken perambulations around the garden. Andy and I were on the case first thing this morning.
The chap who supplied Daisy and Primrose had sold out of stock. He wasn't expecting to get more hens in until next week sometime. So we went elsewhere because I was anxious about not leaving Primrose lonesome for too long, and came home with a cat carrier stuffed with New Hen.
Primrose went crackers. There was no way she was having an interloper on her lawn, in her coop, on her patio, in her pod, under her garden table, on her swing, in her herb garden. And thus it was that I spent the whole afternoon in the garden in the drizzle being a supervisory chicken whisperer. And why my feet are now suffering welly ache.
'Be nice, Primrose,' I said, as the New Hen scuttled about around the herb garden with Primrose in hot pursuit. I can't repeat what Primrose said but suffice to say I haven't heard that kind of language since I was guest of honour at the Shanghai Dockers Bi-Annual Lads' Night Out.
The New Hen stopped a while to try a nibble on the rosemary. 'Oh great,' I thought. 'I've chosen a hen who is going to shred my herb garden to pieces. But perhaps I could call her Rosemary...'
Luckily, she spat the rosemary out. She won't be called Lavender either as that went the same way as the rosemary, drenched in chicken spit if such a thing exists. Well, if cuckoos have spit, why not hens?
Anyway, I pootled about with the girls. I chatted to them both in a gentle, non-confrontational manner. I organised group social activities like 'Hunt the Sunflower Seeds' and 'Let's Dig Through Some Straw Together' and 'Jenga.' I did a bit of digging and pruning and got soggier and soggier in the rain. And sometimes Primrose ignored the New Hen, and sometimes she chased her, and sometimes she shouted at her and all the time the New Hen showed her submission to the superiority of Primrose and then all of a sudden the New Hen was flying through the air like a rocket, scooting over the fence and landing on the neighbour's greenhouse. The nice neighbour, not the noisy neighbours with the screaming child and banging door habit.
Well, I thought, perhaps the New Hen should be called Amelia after Earhart, the lady aviator. Or Josephine, after St Joseph, patron saint of flying. Andy and I dashed next door and retrieved New Hen. Actually, she doesn't seem to mind being held which is just as well as we held her a lot during the course of the afternoon.
And so dusk began to fall. At this point New Hen was locked inside the coop and Primrose was strutting her stuff around HER garden. New Hen clearly wanted to find a place to sleep and was in turn trying to roost on the perch and the swing and not balancing well on either because after the Flying Debacle I clipped her left wing pretty toute de suite I can tell you. And Primrose wanted to go to bed but didn't want to go near the coop all the while HER, the strumpet INTERLOPER was there. So Andy took the New Hen (Alice? Ruby?) down the front end of the garden and Primrose followed me to the pod because she will follow me anywhere because she is an idiot, and Primrose went to bed.
And I supervised New Hen (Petunia? Delilah? Bernard??) on a grass eating supper and then I popped her in the coop where she did a bit more wobbly swinging on the swing and a bit of squawking and then she hoisted up her feathery pants and marched into the pod...
...and all was quiet. Calm. Silent.
And my estimable cousin, Richard, has just phoned and offered me a pair of lace-wing bantams! Shall we? Shan't we??
And so I leave you with a photo of Primrose and her new chicken chum...