Friday, 28 December 2012

Old Chicks' Henmanac

Because of the incessant rain we've had here for the last week, Andy and I went on an emergency bark chipping run this morning, before the hens disappeared into the muddy quagmire that is fast taking over their run, never to be seen again or at least until April when the local water company is bound to impose a drought order.

On our return, I am dispatched to the kitchen to make a cuppa whilst Andy goes to scatter bark chippings hither and thither and thus save Primrose and Daisy vanishing up to their wingpits in sludge and/or developing some kind of poultry trench foot.

'It's very kind of you,' says Primrose, as we watch Andy from the kitchen window, skidding around in a not uncomical fashion.
'Well,' I say, 'it's not good for hens to be standing around in mud. You need to keep your feet dry in this weather. Lord only knows how long it's going to last.' And I stare at the leaden skies and sigh, because I've had enough of this rain. It is the worst kind of rain - thick, drizzly, cold and clingy. The yearning for Spring is growing within me; I am keeping a close eye on the rhubarb in the front garden which acts like a crumble barometer.

'I could ask Daisy to have a predict if you like,' says Primrose. 'She's in the zone at the moment because she is compiling the Old Chicks' Henmanac 2013.'
'Really?' I say. I have long heard of this strange tome; our previous hens used it a lot to guide their daily activities but whenever I asked to have a look, out of curiosity of course, and not to have a good old giggle, I was ushered tout de suite from the library where it was kept under lock and key and a massive boulder.

'Yes,' says Primrose. 'Daisy is from a long line of Henmanac writers. Her mother was a Henmanacan, as was her mother before her, and her great uncle Manley Buntock before that.'
'Manley Buntock,' I say. 'Now there's a name to conjure with.'
'Oddly enough he did,' says Primrose. 'He used his skills as a Henmanacan as part of his magical Music Hall variety turn in Victorian times. He also did a very scary trick with a balloon and a hedgehog. It didn't always go according to plan. Luckily, no balloons were ever hurt.'
'So where is Daisy now?' I say.
'In the pod,' says Primrose. 'She was up at 5 this morning, writing down her first prediction.'
'And what was that?' I say.
'Well,' says Primrose, 'I shouldn't tell you really, but as it's just you and me and you've been very thoughtful with the bark chippings, then I shall tell you. Daisy's first prediction is that New Year's Day will fall on 1st January.'

I look at Primrose. 'I know,' I say.
'What do you mean, you KNOW??' says Primrose. She seems genuinely affronted by my revelation.
'New Year's Day is always on 1st January,' I say.
'Is it?' says Primrose. 'Are you sure?'
'Positive,' I say.
Primrose has a bit of think. 'Aah,' she says. 'I think I know where you may be getting confused.'
'I'm not confused,' I say.
'Oh, but you are,' says Daisy. 'Because no-one but no-one other than Daisy could possibly know the correct date of New Year's Day. I think you are getting confused with human New Year and Hen New Year.'
'There's a difference?' I say.
'Yes,' says Daisy with a determination that dares me to continue arguing. 'The Hen New Year is commutable.'
'Like Chinese New Year?' I say.
'Yes,' says Primrose. 'Only with less prawn crackers.'
'I see,' I say.
'Which means that the Hen New Year and the human New Year both falling on 1st January this year is a complete coincidence,' says Primrose.

At this point , Andy appears from the garden looking sodden, muddy and steamed up.
'All done,' he says. 'Where's my tea?'

I hand him his mug, and turn to continue my conversation with Primrose, but she has shot through the back door and is bee-lining for the new layer of bark chippings for a jolly good, dry-footed root about.

'Apparently,' I say to Andy, 'hen New Year is on the same day as human New Year this year.'
Andy takes a sip of his tea. 'That is unusual,' he says. 'It was on February 32nd last year.'



1 comment:

Vera said...

Ah mud!!! We are up to our eyes in mud as well, or rather, our sheep and pigs are, despite the sunny weather we are having. Chickens OK though, but are missing having a dust bath. Saw one under the old rabbit hutches valiantly trying to have one this morning. Seemed to be the only dry space she could find.
Nice to see the angel. Hope she behaves herself, only now Christmas is nearly over with she might think that she does not have to be a 'good girl' any more!