Thursday, 4 August 2011

My, how they’ve grown!

Thing One and Thing Two (pictured here as little balls of fluff back when they hatched on Valentine’s Day this year) have grown up into nice strong koekoeks who each lay at least one egg for us every day.

We were going to call them, oh, Jan & Maria or Nelson & Graca, or even Ellen & Portia or Elton & David, once we knew if they were male or female. But time passed and the original names stuck. And anyway, it’s fun to go out in the morning to feed them and call, ‘Come, Things!’

(Interestingly, the Agricultural Research Council’s website tells us that you can tell the gender of koekoeks practically from the moment of hatching, as ‘the females are completely black while the males have a white spot on the head’. As is clear from the chicks’ baby pic, both had a white spot on their head and their chest – and yet both turned out to be female. Hmm. Perhaps they’re not as pure-bred as I like to think.)

As you can see by the sun rising in the background of this picture, they like their breakfast nice and early. That’s their mom, Goldie, in the foreground and the Things behind. The rooster and the Goldie-lookalike (who has white rather than black tail feathers) live on a neighbouring property but have formed a little melded family with Goldie and the Things, and spend most of their time subtly vying for Goldie’s attention. Goldie shamelessly plays them off against each other all the time, so one of them is almost always sulking.

All four females are prolific layers. The Things lay huge brown eggs; Goldie’s doppelganger lays dinky little ones; and Goldie herself churns out at least a couple every day. And it really is extraordinary when you eat a true free-range egg as opposed to battery eggs or even the ‘free-range’ eggs sold in the shops – these chooks produce eggs with a dense, deep-yellow yolk and very little white, and with a flavour that has to be tasted to be believed.

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