Friday, 13 June 2008

...Not again!!!

In the wake of Basil and a very apparent re-structuring of the hen pen, some important news fell by the way-side.

Having just returned from a week out of the Potting Shed in our favourite place in Cornwall, a sinking feeling descended on me as I went to say hello to the chickens when we got home. As I strode towards the run I realised that Minnie was in fact Malcolm. It was so obvious to me now having been away from my normal surroundings for a week.

On the run up to the holiday I had been keeping an eye on her as she had been so sick with the Coccidiosis when we nearly lost her. In just 1 week she had doubled in weight and those tell-tale long cockerel feathers were draping themselves like ivy around her neck. "Not again" I thought, surely I can't be stung in the same way twice, and what on earth do I do now? Minnie and Dora are an inseparable pair and Minnie's temperament is so gentle.

Knowing that attempting to keep two cockerels in such close proximity was out of the question (I've been told they'll fight to the death) I knew I was going to have to make a decision in the very near future.

Fortunately, Basil helped me make that decision yesterday. He had been attacking Little Jen, my good friend from the Dales, when she was here last week looking after the farm in our absence. She couldn't get near them to change them out as he would rush up behind and fly at her. My Mother was also terrified of Basil and I have been intimidated by him for a long time but would never show it to him. There is no way I can have behaviour from an animal like that with Children around, so, the decision was made and acted upon.

I know it sounds like I'm trying to justify the whole episode to myself, which I probably am, and the reason for this is believing that all life is sacred and should be nurtured. Basil was a stunning creature, a really beautiful specimen and a total testimony to his breed looks anyway, and boy did he know it! His attitude stank though!

So now Minnie is Malcolm, although I am not keen on the name so have decided to rename him Charlie, Charlie the Chicken, it really does suit him. He has some big shoes to fill now and quite a role to take on. Just a few weeks ago when he was so ill the other hens would just beat him up and wanted him gone. Not Dora though, Dora was always his friend and there for him. Now, he has gone from the very bottom of the pecking order and is now required to sit on the throne as top dog in the hen house with his pick of the ladies!!! He must think he's died and gone to heaven!

During the afternoon I went and sat with the chickens for a while and just pondered on what had been and what will be. Charlie came over and jumped up on the log next to me and then walked on to my lap and sat down for a bit. It made me feel so much better about what had happened. I just pray to god that he remains so well natured

He has started to do the strutty sideways stamping that cockerel's do when they are about to 'tread the girls' ...a very English way of putting it! He has also started to find his voice now which is more of a yodel than a cock-a-doodle, but I'm sure it'll be perfected in time.

To make the unexpected event of Basil's demise a little more proper, we decided that it would be the best thing to eat him! There was no point in wasting a perfectly good chicken, so, he was promptly plucked, de-gibleted and blasted with a blow torch to rid of the remaining stuborn feathers. I was very surprised to see him featherless, not in a bad way, but there was just nothng to him. he was all mouth and no trousers, feathers and no substance. His skin was like buffalo hide and incredibly tough. I knew by looking at him in this state that he wasn't a breed for meat, but covered him in butter and slammed him in the oven non the less!

I had invited Charlie (Basil's executioner) and his brother Harry over for dinner to share in the eating of Basil. Realising the bird was such a skinny specimen I had to think quickly and pad the meal out with some sausages and stuffing. I couldn't have my guests walking away hungry!

So the meal was a success. Everyone had a little bit of Basil and rounded him off nicely with a nice Farmhouse Apple Crumble & Custard.

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