What is it about 6pm? It’s been four days now and each evening at 6pm, Chippy and Axy jump the gate. It’s like they’re flying home to roost – in the wrong direction. At no other time of day do they attempt the crossing from the run into the garden.
It’s not so stressful for me anymore: they don’t venture far on our side of the gate and they don’t attempt to fly anywhere else. They also don’t do much digging when they are out. But they do poo a lot.
I wonder if it has become a game for them. I’m sure Chippy waits until she knows we can see her. It’s become her party trick. Chirp still has never attempted to jump or fly and I can’t help feeling an extra soft spot for her.
‘I think it’s because she’s the biggest’, said Stuart one evening. ‘It’s probably too hard for her to jump up.’
‘Maybe she’s just well-behaved’ I answered looking Chippy in the eye while she stared out from behind the gate.
The boys were leaning over the fence making their own observations. ‘Look Ned,’ whispered Louis, ‘Axy likes digging a lot.’
It was true. The last few days had seen Axy digging a little hole for herself under the tree then sitting in it. Later she would get up, scratch the dirt back over the hole and make another somewhere else. Their little personalities were starting to emerge: Chippy the escapee (or cheeky Chippy), Axy the digger and Chirp the quiet, good girl.
The children discussed over dinner how ‘amazing’ it was that the hens’ personalities mimicked their own. Not that Louis did much digging and sitting in holes, but we all agreed that if Ned ever flew the coop, Louis would be right behind him.
Before bed, Louis had an announcement. ‘I don’t want to call my chicken Axy anymore. She likes digging so I think we’ll call her Diggy!’
‘Are you sure?’ asked Stuart sounding disappointed, possibly knowing how pleased I would be to no longer have a chicken called Axe-man.
He nodded, ‘I like Diggy much better. Good night.’
It wouldn’t be long before Diggy’s name changed again. And again. And again. I hope she has never realised. The last thing this house needs is a chook with an identity crisis.