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Mike learns to hang out with the other chickens

If, 10 years ago, you had told me I would feel sad at the departure of a chicken, I wouldn’t have even thought it particularly funny.  I might have thought you needed help. But here I am, mourning the removal of Mike as though my child had left home. Which, in a way, she has. (Mike is a girl, as you may know, but chicken naming is an imprecise art and no domesticated fowl should remain nameless until you can tell if they’re male or female. This would be like waiting to decide names for your children when they reach 16).

Two days ago, Mike moved out. Yes, she packed her water bowl, her bag of corn, tin whistle, train set, comfort blanket – well, maybe just the water bowl – and moved outside.

As an experienced chicken psychologist, I can tell you that if you were born motherless in a warm box,  grew up in a cosy conservatory with lots of wood shavings, a heat lamp, and regular food, and the only other animals you had ever seen were a tortoise and a human hand, then the outside world is one hell of a shock. Think of the rush of unknown sensations: water dropping from the sky on your feathers; green stuff under your claws; the air suddenly really cold. And above all – the absence of your ‘brother’ the tortoise (if you’re a chicken who grew up with one then you firmly believe that you’re a tortoise too).  Instead you find several really odd looking things with feathers, beaks and clawed feet that are far taller than your ‘brother’. And they move a lot faster. What’s worse, you don’t know anything about this until you wake up one morning stuck in a coop with these creatures because somehow, while you were soporific and sleepy the night before, someone moved you.

Given this trauma – I think you’d probably choose to stay in your hut for two days, and refuse to eat or drink.   This is exactly what Mike did.

Her only comfort was that a couple of times a day, The Hand arrived and gave her a stroke. It brought chick crumb too, so she ate that. No sign of her low level brother though.  Gone. For ever. You’d consider calling it a day and just lying down till it all ended wouldn’t you?

I’m glad to say Mike is made of sterner stuff.  She’s emerged from the coop, and pecks about – and has slowly come to terms with the weird creatures she lives with now.  The Hand is still a comfort from time to time.  She’s discovered there are quite interesting things under her claws – grit, worms, grass.

I think Tonka’s quite pleased that his feathery friend has moved on. Sarah has tried to convince me that my chicken-parenting job is now done and Mike has successfully been re-chickenised after her Testudineous start to life. But I remain bereft.

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