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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

fowl play?

Granny is feeling sad today. One of the two remaining young chickens - the pretty upmarket ones - is dead, the other looks on the verge of it. For no obvious reason. Beloved will have to take a corpse to the vet later to make quite sure the cause isn't actually chicken flu- but it doesn't appear so. Both the brown chicken - Dora - and the speckled one, Daisy - Granny's most favourite - were out of sorts for a day or two; not lively at sight of food, not eating much at all. Then Dora was found dead in a nesting-box yesterday, while Daisy who appeared to be recovering today, was even lively at breakfast time, retired to her perch sometime during the morning and now looks set to topple off it. Literally. Leaving of the five original birds only the mysterious Damien/Daphne.

Has he/she jinxed all his/her sisters and brother? Mr Handsome who is primitive about these things says 'That bird's evil.' Granny not allowed to be primitive that way, at least not around the scientist, her Beloved, sympathises - to herself. Even Beloved admits the creature is odd. His/her gender is still not entirely clear. He/she is as big as a cockerel, with bright red comb and wattles. On the other hand he/she makes noises like a chicken. Weird. For days Granny searched the internet to see if there is such a thing as a hermaphrodite chicken - all she got was porn sites, rock groups and Allan Ginsberg. Not very helpful. Today, fed by scientist daughter with the word 'intersex' she did find some fairly incomprensible scientific articles, appearing to indicate there is such an animal. Daphne really could be Damien also. Or vice versa. If so he/she is not much use to anyone - he won't lay eggs nor will he engender young. A changeling, him/her. He/she looks it. What to do then? Eat it? Let's at least see if he can do his male business, says Beloved. Granny doubts it.

Oh her pretties. Granny mourns all of them. The plebian and part debeaked brown birds have no such problems. They are allowed out on the land these days and gobble up the green shoots - as did Dora, Daisy and Damian/Daphne only last week. During one such outing the undoubtedly male white cockerel, Colin, made the mistake of attacking Tiresome Terrier; who now has to be watched, carefully. Beloved only just managed to rescue Colin from her in time. 'She thinks she's got the green light now to go for him,' says Beloved. 'You mean she can just claim HE started it?' suggests Granny. 'Exactly,' Beloved says - he is quite capable of being anthropomorphic round his own animal, despite his disappoval of such talk in others.

Brown hens, incidentally, had started to lay again last week. The hurricane has obviously put them off; there's not been a single egg since Saturday. Was it stress of all that wind did for Dora and Daisy too? 'Of course not,' says Beloved. As for chicken flu?... If it is who will be the next victim? Granny wonders. Granny? (If only it could be Tiresome Terrier,' she thinks. Naughty.

Chickens are dying mysteriously in Brazil too, for quite other reasons, Granny's researches on Google tell her. Shame. But she is sure the dead Brazilians chickens cannot have been as pretty as her's are - were, rather. Boo hoo.

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