“Alan! Alan, where are you?” “He’s blooming disappeared again!” I muttered to myself. I peered through the mosquito netting of the bedroom window.... I knew it! He’s outside, in the alpaca paddock with Auntie Eileen perched on his shoulder, again! Auntie Eileen is one of our new family members, and one of six chickens, that we recently bought, to live alongside our alpacas. They also have five feral cats and five dogs for company too. Well that’s not entirely true, as we know not all dogs are fond of chickens, apart from in their dinner bowl, so they are in fact being kept apart.... just in case!
The boy alpacas gallop and pronk following them around, and appear to watch in amazement as the chickens kick around their hay, eating any good bits that the boys leave behind. Then time to tackle the boy’s poo pile, looking for tiny insects that may have got there before them. Alpacas usually have very clean toilet habits and all go in the same place, great for cleaning, but the girls now, back kick it all over the place, so it is nicely spread out for them to search through it, and a nightmare for Alan to clean up!
We had planned that we would like to name the chickens after elderly member of our families, and at first we did n’t think we would be able to name them individually, as we have three pairs, and each pair looked so similar, however as time has gone on we can have named them, and know them all as individuals, and we are loving them!
We have two stunning black chickens, one with a turquoise sheen to her feathers, she is the tamest and Alan called her Auntie Eileen after his favourite auntie. The other black chicken with a gorgeous auburn tinge is Auntie Mabel, on my side of the family. Two white aunties are Auntie Marg, who actually had a pink rinse, that’s the real auntie of course, which was far more fashionable that the usual blue rinse, and Auntie Jess who seems a little slower than the others , and sadly reminiscent of my Auntie Jess’s last few months. Auntie Jess is also a late layer. I am very happy to say the real Auntie Jess was very happily married though, and was n’t an aging spinster. The last two ladies were grey and white and particularly difficult to recognise so Alan chose his grey haired Auntie Jean and also his nanny Audrey, for these two chickens to be named after.
Personally I was a little concerned that Alan’s other nanna, Renee would be a little put out by this but Alan assured me that she would not be upset or hold it against him, not having a chicken named after her. Thankfully this was right.
We have now had our aunties for about 4 months, and still auntie Jess has n’t laid an egg for us although her comb is getting a little longer and stronger, so hopefully she is nearly ready. We love to call our girls, and they come running to us, their little bottoms waddling. They rather remind me of a little elderly Spanish lady, who after a few years of enjoying copious amounts of olive oil, is slightly wider around the hips! They seem to particularly like Alan, and they sit in front of him to be picked up, especially Auntie Eileen. During the afternoon they all disappear back to their room where it is shaded from the extreme heat, and come back to see us and the alpacas for some left over leaves, as the sun is slowly dropping behind the hill.
The "aunties" know when it is bedtime, as we feed the alpacas a little hay or alfalfa, and the chickens around excitedly for a while, and then head off into their room. Dinner first, and then they all huddle together for the night in an old stone window ledge! Bless them!
Alan with his favourite, Auntie Eileen