Fowl play in the chicken run

 

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In a rare outbreak of common sense I’ve decided to tone down the running until I start my 20 weeks preparation for the Rotterdam Marathon. That meant quite a gentle start to the week, but livened up by having to catch chickens.

I’m not sure that can go down as official exercise for my marathon preparation, I’ve found programmes with fast runs, long runs, intervals and slow runs – perhaps chicken catching comes under ‘cross-training’.

I’ve continued to cycle and did 45.8km (28.5 miles) in an hour on the turbo on Monday while Mrs O was up in London for an event early on Tuesday morning. Taking advantage of her absence, and in spite of a very strong wind, I got out on the bike on Tuesday afternoon – only the fourth time out on the roads since my trip to the alps in July.

I had planned a gentle dawdle but (surprise, surprise) once I got going I pushed a bit harder than intended and finished up with a very windy 37.35km @ 28.4kph (23 miles @ 17.6mph). It was too windy to be a complete delight – foolishly I’d gone out with the wind behind me, leaving a real slog on the way back – but it reminded me that it’s the turbo for the ‘duty’ miles and the road for pleasure, fresh air and bad road surfaces.

Mrs O stayed in London Tuesday night as well as, on Wednesday, I went up for one of the sportsman’s lunches my brother-in-law very kindly invites me to on a generously regular basis. This one was at Lord’s again, the home of cricket and was superb. We drove back together on Wednesday evening.

…… anyway, back to the chickens. We  first got chickens about 15 years ago – they are surprisingly entertaining creatures with (even more surprisingly) distinct characters.

Probably 80% of the chickens we get are ‘rescue chickens’ – saved from the normal ‘block change’ at commercial egg production units which see all the chickens disposed of after as little as 12 months of laying because productivity starts to reduce. Terribly wasteful as chickens may live for about 6 years and can continue to lay (in non-commercial environments) for three years.

Some friends went to Australia for a few weeks so, rather than going to their place daily to look after their chickens, we took them in, rather like short term fostering. Catching them to bring them over here wasn’t too hard – our friends’ run isn’t too large and has several nooks and crannies where I could corner them.

The friends rode L’Eroica with us in 2015, and David was also with me for the Cinglé du Mont-Ventoux. He’s the friend who broke his hip in a crash on a Pyrenean descent back in July – so I was chicken-catcher-in-chief. He is quite a chap – I’m not sure I’d have wanted to travel to Australia with an only partially mended hip.

Having guest chickens was fascinating – the ‘pecking order’ is well named as I watched the initial battles for chicken supremacy – sadly the victory went to one of the guests. I must toughen up our chickens if we take in guest in the future.

Our run is bigger so catching them after our friend’s return was rather more entertaining. Typically chickens are either ‘squatters’ or runners when approached. These were all runners.

All has now returned to normal except that one of our chickens – who I had regarded as a pensioner as she had apparently come to the end of her laying life – has started laying again.

Perhaps it was the feeling of increased competition. We all benefit from that.

 

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