Old time readers of the blog will know that I have a flock of mini bantam chickens. Pekins are perfect for us, small, friendly, cause minimal disruption in the garden, and oh so amusing to watch as they scuttle around. A few years ago I bought some eggs to hatch under a broody chicken, and accidentally ended up with a Polish. Cav, the result from that accident was a real character, a bird who blundered from disaster to disaster. When she died I hatched out some of her eggs, and ended up with Big Bird.
Big Bird is head cockerel in the flock at the moment, so it comes as no surprise that the eggs we hatched out earlier this year ended up having him as the dad.
Over the summer they've grown up, and now look like miniature adults. We thought we'd worked out which were boys, and which were girls, but in the same manner with which the bees have been misbehaving this year, we got it rather wrong!
We thought that the one on the left, with minimal wattle and comb was a girl. In the middle, bigger wattle and comb, therefore a boy. On the right, a regular Pekin rather than a Polish x Pekin we weren't sure. So names were chosen... Lilly, Freddy & Pip.
Except two weeks later, Lilly decides to start crowing. So rather than being names after characters in The Archers, he has now been renamed to Lillee after Dennis Lillee, the Australian fast bowler. As for the other two, knowing our luck they'll be boys as well. Mind you, we are now down to 3 cockerels in the flock, Millar died a few weeks ago. He'd had a really rough winter, had to spend a couple of weeks being nursed through a cold inside the house, and was my companion in the dye studio for many weeks because he was struggling to get around the garden. This summer he got a new lease of life, and spent most of his time hanging out with the new babies. He was such gentle soul, and it still feels odd to wander out to the garden and not have him wander up to say hello.
The babies are no longer the littlest chickens in the garden though. Last week we adopted a whole flock (14 hens and 2 cockerels) of Seramo bantams from a neighbour. They're moving back to the town, and can't take their chickens with them. They've spent all their life living in an enclosure, so watching them learn how to be proper chickens has been lovely. It's not until you watch a chicken out and about that you realise just how much goes on in their little heads. These newbies make my existing chickens look like giants, they're tiny, if you're not careful you can mistake them for a large blackbird.