Big news with the hens, I managed to get one to eat out of my hand! The red ones are definitely pluckier than the grey ones and one red one in particular is the Ellen McArthur of the flock. True I had to put my head through the fence and kneel in order to get down to her level before she would approach, but once prostrate, and after some significant hesitation she snatched a large crumb from my open palm. I was so excited I feel bound to share my expertise. The secret is to be very smooth in your movements the slightest jerk and they all rush off in a frightful tizz assuming one to be a fox in fancy dress, but as I used to say to the chorus of Traviata who were upstaging the lead singers by ‘jerking’ at the back, note this should be said with a particularly camp inflection, “imagine you are swimming through olive oil.” It seems that this style of movement works both for subduing over acting choruses and for luring hens. After this successful incursion the plucky one pecked a competitor about to capitalise on her mine clearance and took several more crumbs until stale-loafless but content I went back indoors to break the news to my readers. Xx
Ps important observation. I had assumed that the reason the cockerel never took any of the crumbs was that he was being magnanimous with his harem today I realised it was actually because being about twice the height of the hens it takes him twice as long to bend down and grab one – he seems to know it’s hopeless so he doesn’t bother. A moral tale perhaps.