Wednesday, 25 November 2009

From the archive



We kept hens for a while, back in the last century, when we lived in Scotland. (The poultry above weren't ours; they merely serve as a pictorial introduction.) The impetus to keep hens came as a result of my daughter receiving as a 5th birthday present from her grandmother an old hen-house.

(Memo to self: I must try not to do this to my grand-daughter.)

It was a desperately rickety thing, held together only by gravity and encrusted layers of long-dried chicken manure. At night unappealing little red things came out and jumped about on it.

We got three bantams, the result of a frantic night-time chase by torchlight in a barn belonging to a colleague. "They're just stupid when they're roosting," she'd said. "They're practically comatose. All you have to do is lift them off their perch and stuff them in a sack."

Ha.

They weren't enough to keep us in eggs, so we got four hens from a nearby battery egg farm. Two died within the week, probably from agoraphobia*. Another, Mrs Collapsed Comb, laid splendid eggs at a terrific rate and justified the whole venture on her own.

Infant innocence about gender led these hens to be named after prominent cricketers of the time. Randall (Notts. C.C.C. 1972-93) would come indoors if ever she found a door left open. Here she is nesting in the laundry sink.



Gower, Boycott, Kapil Dev and others perished when their hen-house, unsurprisingly, blew down one night in a storm.

*cue Rog.

17 comments:

Geoff said...

I thought you were going to say they escaped.

"How did they get out?"

"Leg before wicket."

Dave said...

I'm sure there's a shocking joke to be made about battery hens, but in my semi-comatose state I can't think of it.

Rog said...

The battery hens may have felt a little run down.

I don't remember a famous cricketer called Collapsed-Comb. Perhaps he was hair-brushed out of the record books for being the wrong side of the parting.

Dave said...

Rog, you forget Sir W.G. Collapsed-Comb (Surrey CCC, 1889-1903).

Christopher said...

Geoff: Great to see you again. Thanks for dropping by. Actually some of those hens did escape. (Egg before wicket, probably.) I was saving them and their adventures for another day.

Dave: Never mind, everybody else is standing in for you.

Rog: Lance Collapsed-Comb, Cambs. Univ. and Hampshire CCC, 1919-1931. Before your time, maybe? No eggs in his box now.

Christopher said...

Dave, I thought you were out for the count. Lance's dad, of course. Cock of the walk in his day.

Sarah said...

Enuff of the cricket puns already...

I have kept chickens and guinea fowl for years. The guinea fowl have never had names, 'cos they never survive very long. Each year with a fresh batch of chickens (inevitably M. Renard moves in around about the time his missus has cubs) we give them themed names...not cricketers I hasten to add humf....but stylish fashion designers, artists and the like.Betty Jackson being my current favourite. All blousy and fluffy bottomed.

When the kids were young we did have a batch called after farm machinery...Kamatzu, Massy, Rhino and Ferguson. Despite the fact they were all girls. Hey ho....I could go on for days about chickens!

Christopher said...

Sarah: I'm sorry, I didn't realise you could overhear us lads behind the pavilion.

Yes, we had our troubles with M.Renard later on. Could it have been the same one? With us certain family members condoned the most atrocious vulpine crimes after reading Fantastic Mr Fox, probably the same ones that went weak at the knees about rabbits after Watership Down.

Vicus Scurra said...

Graeme Fowler.
Faroukh Hengineer.
Geoff Pullet.
Wilfred RhodeIslandRed.

I, Like The View said...

wow - so many people with a chicken habit!

Malc, the ex sports journalist, now living on a Scottish Island, has some cocks he's trying to pass on if you're interested in revisiting your archive. . .

Christopher said...

Let us not forget, Vicus, in Hampshire's glory days, Desmond Eggar and Colin Ingleby-Machenzie. (Sarah, close your ears and stop playing gooseberry.)

I,LTV: No takers for redundant cocks here, I'm afraid - although the notion does lead me to Pt. 2 of this poultry post, an egg that should hatch in a day or two.

I, Like The View said...

there are more crackers here than over at Dave's Respository for Redundant Gags!

Christopher said...

I,LTV: I expect he's having his curate's egg for breakfast - and I really have to go and do some work, hen.

patroclus said...

Mrs Collapsed-Comb was good, but not that good. The real star was Mrs Feathercomb, who was a prodigious layer. Rosie died within the week. Attila the Hen persevered for longer, but only ever laid one egg. I had no idea until reading this post that any of this was my fault.

Christopher said...

I'm sorry. Clearly I've been been reduced to the revisionist school of historiography, and as such have to take the rap for a very flawed account. I'd forgotten about the fecund Mrs Feathercomb, but now there comes to mind a bantam called Ockle, named after a euphonious settlement on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, which is nowhere near where we lived at the time. No one to my knowledge by the name of Ockle has played for BMCC, but Dave may know better.

I don't see where any fault lies, Patroclus. Do you feel that with hindsight you should have insisted on a more robust hen-house?

Sarah said...

Blimey... it gets worse ;0)

Christopher said...

Afraid so, Sarah. And we haven't even started to exploit all blousy and fluffy-bottomed yet. Give it time...