Just call me q

A woman contemplating life, incognito

Dear Fork… (A Letter To My No. 3 In Command Chicken)

Feb
22
Photo of my three BHWT ex-battery chickens with cartoon speech bubbles

Dear Fork,

I’m writing this letter to let you know that – for the last 14 months, 3 weeks and 1 day – you have bought joy to my life and entertained me with your feathery shenanigans. In fact, there have been so many funny incidents that it’s been really difficult for me to choose my top three but here they are anyway:

Do you remember, when I first got you, how you’d chase me across the lawn each morning while I was still in my nightie? Yes, it was food you were wanting – not me – but I didn’t know that, did I? No, because I was new to this chicken-keeping game.

And what about the day you attempted to de-bobble the back of my brand new jumper as I was sat cross-legged on the grass feeding Floppy, Semi and Pam? (I wondered where you’d got to, you know. You weren’t hungry, I thought; or you were scared of me. Didn’t realise that you were right behind me stripping the fibres of my prized pink woolly, bold as you like.

And I can’t tell you how many times you had me in stitches because you’d – somehow – managed to flick a dried worm, a pineapple chunk or some other tasty morsel onto your own back and then proceed to wander – totally unawares – around the garden.

Actually, that’s right. I can’t tell you, can I? No, because you passed away today day, quick as you like; peacefully and (thankfully) with no apparent pain.

But I think you know how much you meant to me, Fork, don’t you? So, have fun… wherever you are, oh, and, errr… stay c-lucky.

Love from Q x

Last photo of Fork my BHWT ex-battery chicken -  close up

The Chicken And Snow Combo…

Feb
01

 

Well, I don’t know about you but we’ve had snow here this week and – as a result of it – I’ve learnt quite a few things about my fabulous ex-battery chickens that, prior to the snow, I absolutely did not know. Here are my top three to be going on with:

 

  • They are scared of the colour white. So much so that they will not step out of their hen house of their own accord under ANY circumstances.

 

Photo of ex-battery chicken in the snow - with cartoon speech bubble - looking terrified

 

  • They secretly think that they are flamingos. Personally, I think that this is because I have four fabulous Don Featherstone flamingos in my garden. (I’ll show you some time, shall I?)

 

Photo of chicken in the snow with a cartoon speech bubble

 

And last but not least…

  • They are sensationalists. (Honestly, you’ve never seen such over-reacting to a bit of snow. They really should be on the stage.)

 

 

So, there you have it. Three thing that I did not know about Floppy, Fork and Pam until we had snow. I’m so glad we did!

 

What I’ve Learnt About Chickens #2

Jan
25

Keeping hens can be dangerous.

In other words:

They don’t mean to cause you actual bodily harm (well, at least… I don’t think they do), but keeping floof-balls (as I affectionately like to call them*) can sometimes result in serious injury. Oh, I’m not talking broken bones or anything like that – no, you need to keep cows or sheep or some other bulky domestic animal for that to happen – I’m talking cuts and bruises and minor head traumas. 

And, okay, so the cuts and the bruises can be dealt with, can’t they?

The snagging yourself on the pen door as you go in…

The nicking of your finger with the scissors as you open a packet of dried worms…

Even the knocking of your right elbow on the side of the house as you slip on the decking whilst carrying two containers full of sweetcorn while your next-door neighbour smirkingly watches on. (Actually, can you add ‘hurt pride’ to that one, please?)

cartoon picture of person slipping on decking

MINOR HEAD TRAUMAS

But the minor head traumas? Well, they’re serious, you know. Because who’s going to help you when you’re in the pen, tucked round the corner, out of view from everyone (including the nosy neighbour) and you lean forward on your fork to dig up some juicy worms for your cute little chooks and smack your bonce on the handle thus making a mahoosive ‘skin-egg’ form in the middle of your forehead in less time that it takes to actually boil a real egg, hmm? (These things can happen.)

Cartoon picture of hitting head on a fork

SEARCH PARTY

And how long are you going to have to lie there surrounded (and probably being trodden on) by your ‘loved ones’ before your other set of ‘loved ones’ realize that you’re actually missing and send a search party out to look for you, eh? (I wish I could answer this for you. Oh, hang on a minute. I can. It’s 37 mins & 56 seconds precisely and even then they didn’t send anyone who could actually help. Naming no names.)

cartoon picture of hen-keeper falling down in the hen pen

 

BULGING ‘SKIN-EGG’

And six months down the line, when the bulging ‘skin-egg’ has flattened down and the rich purple has finally returned to its pasty off-white, will you even remember that the whole horrid incident actually happened? (Well, it was a head injury, don’t forget. Loss of memory can come with… I’ve forgotten what I was going to say now. Oh, well, never mind…)

So, anyway, yes – like I said before – keeping hens can be dangerous but (and I mean this wholeheartedly)

They’re great!

* Sometimes!

I’m No Ex-Batt Expert But…

Jan
11

 

You may or may not know but, over Christmas, Fork (my No. Three In Command hen) was taken ill and spent a good week and a bit living in a cardboard box on my dining room floor.

cartoon picture of an ill ex-battery chicken in a cardboard box

 

Anyone For A Dried Worm?

I fed her a whole host of things including a pureed baby food sachet of fish pie and broccoli, dried worms, egg yolk, hen pellets, baby milk, warm porridge, plain yogurt with crushed garlic and cooked mixed veg, and – thankfully – she regained enough strength to be able to be re-introduced to her hen-friends in time for New Years Eve.

And the whole process, well, I’ll admit that it wasn’t easy. It cost me a bomb; I spent an inordinate amount of time googling ‘how to plump up a chicken but not for the oven’ and, as for the physio sessions… they were a complete waste of time because (as I now know) a sick chick will not do a thigh stretch until it’s good and ready.

 

cartoon picture of food for an ill chicken

 

I’m No Ex-Batt Expert But…

But the end result of this super expensive and extremely intensive TLC session over the festive season was that Fork – my previously poorly and almost at death’s doorly (sorry, about that) chicken – survived. Yes, she made it and I could not be happier because, apart from making me realise that I love her dearly and that her two hen friends love her dearly, she also made me realise that, okay, so I’m no ex-batt expert but… on the other hand, I’m no novice either.

Scratching Around In The Saw-Dust

And so, with that in mind, I have decided to (temporarily) branch out into the niche world of chickens; ex-battery chickens, to be more precise. Yes, and I am going to spend the rest of January, February and possibly March scratching around in the saw-dust and digging (I mean, dishing) the dirt on the messy, feathery and sometimes downright dangerous lives of the chicken-keeper.

 

cartoon picture of ex-battery chickens and fork

 

Duh-duh-durnnnnn.

(To be continued…)

I have a pancake factory in my back garden…

Oct
13

No, I’m not lying; I really do have a pancake factory in my back garden and I have three very hard-working girls on the factory floor.

pancake factory ex-battery chickens hens justcallmeq Q queline

 

(I used to have four girls helping me out but sadly last week, Semi, my Second-in command ‘moved on.’ Yes, it was an extremely traumatic time for us all and I hope you don’t mind but I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet. One day maybe… but not today, if that’s okay.)

justcallmeq Q queline cartoon drawing of crying girl woman

 

Anyway, back to my hard-working trio (as they now are) and – thanks to them – they’ve made running my fantastic pancake factory a breeze. “How so?” I hear you ask. Well, because each morning at sun-rise they cluck on – whoops, I mean clock on – whether I’m awake or not, and then just get straight on with their work.

cartoon sun justcallmeq Q queline

 

They regularly go the eggstra mile for me by producing one egg per laying unit per shift, which is great when I have a particularly large pancake order to fulfill. (What am I saying? I always have a large pancake order to fulfill).

boiled eggs ex-battery chickens BHWT justcallmeq Q queline

 

And since day one I can honestly say that I’ve never heard any of them use fowl language. I know; pretty amazing considering their genetics.

cartoon drawing justcallmeq Q queline

 

And, okay, so I will admit that my lovely ladies don’t live on fresh air. Why, since they’ve kindly agreed to come and work for me they’ve got through (among other things):

6 x 20 kg sacks of pellets (yum),

8 bags of organic porridge (only the best for my team)  and

18 packets of dried worms (?!).

hen food ex-battery chickens BHWT justcallmeq Q queline

 

But I’m certainly not going to grumble about it because, in 334 days, they’ve supplied me with the grand total of 322 ‘(nest) box-fresh’ eggs which I’ve used to make not only pancakes but also fried eggs, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, egg sandwiches, omelettes, cookies and cakes…

cartoon egg food chickens ex-battery fried egg boiled egg scrambled egg cake pancake cookie BHWT justcallmeq Q queline

 

Hey, I’ve just re-read that last bit and how pretty darn great does that sound? I’d be a fool not to ask them if they want to stay on for another year, don’t you think? Yes, so, sorry but I must dash… because I have exactly 22 days to get a fresh contract drawn up for them. With (c)luck the pancake factory WILL continue.

 

cartoon pancake stack ex-battery chickens hens BHWT justcallmeq Q queline