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The Day Before Yesterday: 53 An Energetic Cockerel

Gladys Schofield and her husband Cliff acquire a flock of hens and a feisty little cockerel.

Cliff dug a large patch of ground, when the weather started to improve and thought potatoes would be the best crop to grow in the virgin soil, as they would break the soil up well.

His next job was preparing a run for the hens he was getting. We had ample ground for this as a wall ran right around this land. A hen run already existed over the bottom wall, belonging to a neighbour, so we fenced the other side to keep them from the garden. Small bushes were dotted here and there on the piece that ran at the back of the house and this we left rough as nothing could grow here and it wasn't long before we bought a few hens.

The first ones were a mixed bag, already laying, from someone given up his brood. They were a ready made family of various colours, one or two white, then some brown, and some a lighter shade, almost yellow. The main member was a small black cockerel. What he lacked in height, he gained in energy. He would strut up and down the boundary fence, as he knew a much larger white cockerel lived next door. They had a contest every morning to see who could crow the loudest. He paced this fenceline hoping to find a hole to get his enemy. He was a lovely bird, his feathers glistened different shades in the sunlight and with his bright red comb, he looked quite a dandy.

But one day he managed to fly right over the fence. What a commotion, there were feathers flying all over the place before we managed with the aid of the neighbours to separate them. They both looked worse for wear but our cheeky fellow was all for carrying on the affray. We said we were sorry and Cliff clipped some of his wing feathers to stop him straying this way again.

Our feathered friends did more than keep us in eggs but my man was not sure of their age, so thought he would sit a clutch of eggs from a well known breeder. This way he would get good stock. He had already noticed one large brown hen preferred sitting on the nest box all day and not producing any eggs herself, he decided to make her earn her keep. The old barn building was quiet and dark, just the spot for this broody hen to sit and care for this clutch of eggs. She was a big hen and settled down at once, after a few prancing steps to see all was in order and we had a job to get her to leave the eggs for a few minutes each evening, while she fed herself and anything else she needed to do.

She kept her nest lovely and clean and would gently turn each egg a little every day, before settling down again. She sat for twenty one days before they hatched and everyone of the dozen were fertile, though one little chick needed a good warm by the fire, before it gained enough strength to join the rest in the pen Cliff had constructed for them.

About five of these turned out to be cocks and when a few weeks old, used to try and roost on the branches of the bushes and try to crow. Their attempts to do this was very funny. Their voices would fail halfway through but they would keep on trying, so these were on borrowed time. Their days were numbered, after all one cock-a-doodle-do was enough for anybody.
We didn't know how wrong we were, as soon after this Cliff went as usual one morning to feed his brood and found our little black cockerel dead, his neck had been broken and it wasn't the cock next door that had done this, so we managed without one after that.

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