How To Age 10 years in 1 Week – Part 2


So in the past 5 days, you must have aged about 5 years. By the end of the week you’ve aged even more.  The story continues…

After a tense ‘phone call, you race back to the vet to collect your poorly cat. You pace up and down the waiting room nervously. What is taking so long? When the vet calls you into his consulting room, your stomach starts to somersault. “She’s been on a drip all day, so we’re not worried if she won’t eat or drink,” he says. “It’s her breathing we need to watch. Count her respirations – they should be between 20 and 30 per minute. If her breathing becomes more laboured, ring this number immediately and we will admit her again. Otherwise, we’ll see her tomorrow.”

The nurse brings your blue cat carrier through and hands it to you. Somewhere in there, hiding in the darkness, is your precious animal, relying on you for some intensive tlc. No pressure.

033“She hasn’t used the litter tray all day, so we’ve given her a laxative,” explains the nurse. You look across at the cage where your cat has been hyperventilating all day, and you can’t help but notice that the litter tray is full of what looks like the layers pellets you feed to your chickens each day. Feeling your lips twitch into a small smile, you realise that your poor chuffin cat wouldn’t have known whether to crap in it or eat it.

“Erm, how long will it be before the laxative takes effect?” you ask, nervously eyeing the cat carrier.

“Oh not long, maybe 10 minutes,” replies the nurse cheerfully. “We’ve put an incontinence pad in there for her, just in case.”

The laxative actually takes 9 minutes to work… whereas you take 10 minutes to get home. As you turn into the lane down which you live, your chuffin cat lets out a strangulated whine and the air fills with a putrid stench. Luckily, as the mum of 3 boys, you are adept at driving with your head poking through the side window. Now who’s hyperventilating?

“Oh Pooh!” you exclaim, as ironically that is the nickname you call your chuffin cat at home. “Oh poo!” you exclaim again, referring to the odorous deposit your cat has unhappily made, as the stink wafts through the window and past your nose.

Unfortunately the lane is littered with potholes, which you do your best to avoid, particularly those that make the car lurch suddenly from side to side. You are sure that your cat’s luxurious fur would make a great spreading brush, but not in a cat carrier full of crap.  When you reach home, you carefully grab the carrier and stagger as rapidly as you can through the lounge, ignoring the bemused faces of your boys who are eagerly awaiting the return of their much-loved pet. The stink that follows you through the house soon wipes the looks off their faces.  Imagine the ‘Bisto kid’ advert, but in reverse.

Chuffin cat on the prowlHaving placed the carrier on a washable floor, you hold your breath whilst carefully lifting off the lid on what has become your cat’s unintentional portable litter tray. Your cat slowly totters out and you relax as you see that she’s quite clean, having laid her reluctant turds in one corner of the carrier: no mean feat for a large cat in a confined space. You observe your cat making her way round the room flicking her paw out as she tries to get a bandage off her leg. She also adds a flick of the tail every so often, for a bit of variety. It’s like watching ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks’ from Monty Python – flick, swish, wobble, flick, flick, swish.

You make her a nest near the fire, padded with bubble wrap (one of her favourite things) and lined with son no 3’s fluffy hoodie (another of her favourite things). Gently you place her in the nest, and sit with her to ensure she is happy and settled. She looks at you gratefully, closes her eyes and purrs a little (one of your favourite things). You count her respirations regularly and feel your mood lifting as the count decreases: from 60 per minute, then 40 and finally when she dozes off a magnificent 29. Just what the vet ordered.

Later, you make a bed up on the settee to enable you to nurse your poorly cat through the night. When the rest of the family have gone to bed, you snuggle down under your duvet and your heart swells as you feel the ton weight of your beautiful chuffin cat land on your bladder. Your bladder also swells during the night, but you don’t want to disturb the sleeping beauty crushing your body, so you lay there listening to her gentle snores… now down to 21 per minute. Perfect. A Chuffin SmirkBy the morning you are sure that the circulation has been cut off to your legs, but still Her Chuffness is deep in slumber. Eventually you place your hands under the duvet and strain to lift the lead weight off your body. She stirs and lets out a whinge, but still doesn’t move. You manage to slide clumsily off the settee and land with a thud on the floor, due to pins and needles in both legs which makes coordination particularly difficult. As you look up, is that a small smirk you see on the chuffin cat’s face? That would be right.

That morning you take her back to the vet. You can report that she has started to groom a little, and has even eaten a little tuna – oh yes, she couldn’t believe her eyes: a plate of tuna, and you hand feeding her too. Shame she spilt much of it on your duvet, bearing in mind you have an aversion to the mere whiff of fish. The vet is most pleased, albeit still a little concerned about her breathing. He thinks she has a virus and decides that you can keep nursing her at home, he doses her up on painkillers and hands you a packet of antibiotics (to prevent any secondary infection). You look at the tablets, and then look at the chuffin cat. She hates taking tablets as much as you hate giving them to her. These have to be given twice a day too. Double whammy. Still, the best news is that she won’t be kept in. You pick her up off the examination table and she reaches up to pin her paws around your neck, clinging to you koala-style. She clearly hasn’t heard what the vet said, so you reassure her and willingly accept the hug. Then the warning: the vet says to watch her carefully and that 24 – 48 hours after she’s finished the tablets, she could suddenly go downhill, giving you emergency numbers to ring if that happens. She would then need a chest x-ray, something he had wanted to avoid due to her severe ‘white coat syndrome’ (sound familiar?!). He also wants you to ring him at 5pm sharp with a further update on her condition.

Having delicately stuffed the chuffin cat back into her cat carrier, you head on home feeling happier. You’ve already rung ahead and asked son no 1 to go and buy a litter tray, as the chuffin cat has to remain indoors – something she has always rebelled against, being very much an outdoors kinda feline; how else would she keep the rodent population in order?

Arriving home, this time minus the noxious fumes, you are delighted to see the chuffin cat amble towards her food bowl and survey the contents. She looks up at you and gives a small <miaow>, You approach her and start to gently slap her rump – something she likes you to do as she eats (yes, really!). The sound of her teeth crunching on the biscuits is music to your ears.

Son no 1 appears home with his purchases: a litter tray the size of a small skip (“She’s a big cat, mum!”) a mahoosive bag of litter (not that which looks like the chicken food) and a bag of catnip (not for use in the giant litter tray). He hands you the bill: just over £20!! You could have made one for less than that!

Poorly chuffin cat and sick chicken comparing symptomsYou now have a dilemma: don’t forget your sick chicken who wants to accompany you in the garden, at the same time as you need to be nursing your sick cat who has to remain indoors. Hmmm. How does that work then? You place a chair by the patio door and pad it with a soft towel, in the hope the chuffin cat will sit there and enable you to watch her whilst you and Cobweb Gladys peruse the garden foliage. Of course, the cat sits underneath the chair on the hard floor, clearly miffed that she has to share your attention. Cobweb Gladys on the other hand, seems to be improving daily, growing stronger and eating more.

Later, you need to collect son no 3 from school. Having put the chickens away, you ask your Handsome Husband to keep an eye and make sure that the chuffin cat doesn’t go outside. Cue a telephone call just as you reach the school: “Erm, I’ve lost the cat”

“You’ve done what?? How on earth can you lose a sick cat? She’s not exactly going anywhere very fast!” You can feel the exasperation rising in your voice.

“Where was she when you left home?” he asks.

“Under the chair by the patio door, sulking” you reply, wondering what on earth you are going to tell the vet at 5pm. (“Erm, yeah the cat, right. She was great the last time I saw her… then my husband lost her, so she’s been busy outside doing all the things on the naughty list that she shouldn’t be doing.”)

Of course whilst his back is turned, the chuffin cat has crawled into a box. Clearly starting to feel better, she is up for a game of hide and seek. It’s apparent that your Handsome Husband doesn’t spend enough time with his feline charge. Evidently she is in a box, behind a chair, in the corner of the room. Where else would she be? How inadequate of him not to know that.

Her Chuffness convalescing outsideHaving located the chuffin cat you ring the vet, as requested, at 5pm, You update him  – she is now eating, drinking and wanting to go out. He reiterates that you need to keep an eye on her, but agrees that she can go outside if she is pestering you. He’s getting to know your cat well. You are delighted to spend what is left of the afternoon in the garden with your pair of poorly pets, letting the sunshine bathe them both in warmth and happiness.

The following day, your chuffin cat needs to start her course of antibiotics. Cats and tablets are not a great mix in general, but when that cat is THE chuffin cat, things usually get completely out of hand. Yes, we are talking riot police on standby. The first tablet is administered with great difficulty – lots of fighting, scrabbling, clamping of jaws, shaking of heads and general riotous attitude.  Not necessarily just from the chuffin cat. Of course, by the evening you are better prepared: large towel, suit of armour, gauntlets, goggles, big syringe of water and one fluorescent pink tablet on the table beside you. The result? Her Chuffness takes one look at you, surveys the scene, swipes the tablet and swallows it herself in one gulp. Yes, really. What a splendid idea; why didn’t you think of that yourself?

20141027-003201-1921873.jpgAs the week goes by, Cobweb Gladys recovers tremendously. You realise she is feeling better when you find her pottering about the dining room, eating the cat’s food whilst standing on the mat which reads ‘Beware of the Cat’. Her large red comb has gradually risen by several degrees each day, so that now it is pert at 12 o’clock where it should be.

Chuffin cat chillingYou spend a nervous 48 hours after the chuffin cat has finished her meds, watching her like a hawk to see if she deteriorates in any way.  She remains stable if a little quiet. Then the crucial moment arrives, as you walk across the lounge, when you are ambushed, rugby tackled and tunefully serenaded by your one and only chuffin cat. You realise how much you’ve missed that rebellious attitude and furry mischief.  Bring it on in leaps and bounds, literally.  Life would not be the same without Her Chuffness, let alone your thick chicken causing mayhem and shouting obscenities across the garden.

How to Age 10 Years in 1 Week – Part 1


Cobweb Gladys - 3 days oldTake one small white chicken: a much-loved little hen who you have raised for the past 6 1/2 years, after adopting her as a 1 day old chick. Go down to the coop one day and find that little hen looking very sorry for herself – her head hung low and her usually pert comb flopping heavily over her left eye. Not so much Pirate Pete, think more along the lines of ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody from Harry Potter.

So you go to the kitchen and you cook up some scrambled egg, adding a tasteful garnish of fresh parsley. Your Handsome Husband enters the kitchen. “Oooh scrambled egg!” he says appreciatively.

“Think again!” you reply with a frown. “This is for Cobweb Gladys.”

As you head out of the door, leaving him salivating and somewhat perplexed, you add, “There’s some bread on the side, you can have that.”

Wife of the Year, that’s me.

You place the tasty breakfast in front of your little hen, and sigh as she refuses to eat it. You let both chickens out into the garden, and follow the poorly hen’s every move like a crazed stalker. Over the next few hours you pick random leaves and offer them to her to peck, marvelling at the variety of greenery on offer for the average garden-dwelling omnivore. Then you sigh again as you realise that what minute amounts of food or drink make it into your little hen’s beak, soon squirt out the other end twice as fast…that’s if it doesn’t dribble out of her beak first.

Cobweb Gladys SelfieLeaving your boys on sick chicken duty, you head indoors to cook your little hen a nice bowl of warm rice, mixed with chopped grapes and mealworm. You put tonic in her drinking water (minus the gin) and take it all down to the coop. Your little hen stands at your feet, so you pick her up and tuck her under your arm. She nestles against you and blinks slowly.

“What’s happened, Cobweb Gladys?” you ask in a soft voice. You feel so helpless; you’ve never seen your little hen look so poorly. She just closes her eyes and bows her head. You place her down gently on the dirt floor of the coop and she slowly makes her way up the ramp to the hen house…oh so slowly. Meanwhile her sister, Dim Doris, munches noisily on the treats that you have provided, wondering if it’s her birthday or maybe Christmas, but not really caring either way.

The next couple of days pass in much the same way. You miss the coarseness of your hen’s voice shouting obscenities at you from across the garden, the way she always scuttles towards you at full pelt from the moment she spies you. You dose and you nurture and you cook; oh yes, you cook up all sorts of treats to tempt her.

By the fourth day it is raining, but you still let your little hen out of the coop – she only wants to be near you, even if that means sitting in a chair under an umbrella, listening to the rhythmic tap, tap, tap of the raindrops. You chat to her about all manner of things and she listens carefully with half-closed eyes.

“Come on, Cobweb, you need to get better.  We’ve still got lots of fun to have together” you repeat over and over again.

Her Chuffness resting in a hammockThen you discover your chuffin cat, usually so full of life and cheeky attitude, looking forlorn and refusing to eat. I repeat: refusing to eat! That single fact in itself rings alarm bells. So you dash her to the vet, who checks her over and shakes his head. He holds her down, shaves her throat and takes some blood: brutal but necessary. She sits hunched and dejected, her fight having ebbed away.

You kneel down and press your forehead gently against that of your ailing cat. “Noggin” you whisper in a choked-up voice – a word from your shared vocabulary, a word that means everything yet nothing. You close your eyes and sigh, a tear making its escape down your cheek.

Your beautiful, naughty-natured cat won’t be coming home. Instead you have to leave her attached to a drip, laying on a heat pad in the sick ward. She watches you leave, her glassy eyes pleading with the little energy she has left, a look that punctures your heart.

You are tasked with taking her blood samples directly to the animal lab, to speed up the process of investigation. Then you return home, to an empty house brimming with memories of your cat’s unique chuffness: her discarded catnip mouse, a clump of fur carelessly tossed on the carpet, her battered scratching post rudely upturned in the corner.

You look at the telephone, waiting for it to ring with what you hope will be positive news from the vet. Anything, just please make it positive.

Cobweb Gladys in the gardenThe silence is too much to bear, so you head down to the chicken coop. As you approach, you hear a lowly <cluck>, somewhat despondent but still far more than you’ve heard from your little hen all week. You open the coop door and she potters gingerly out into the garden. You watch as she pecks carefully at a few selected leaves. There it is: a small glint of sunshine battling its way through the funereal thunder clouds. You need that right now.

A crane fly lands gracefully on the ground near your sick chicken. Never before have you been so pleased to see an insect beheaded before your very eyes, as your little hen pecks at it then shovels it slowly into her beak. Such a shame that her sister suddenly snatches the insect carcass, pulls it from Cobweb’s beak and eats it herself. Still, half a crane fly is better than none. That will help the protein quota. You’ll take that.

After what seems like an eternity, the telephone springs into life: the news you’ve been anxiously awaiting. You hold your breath and listen. Your cat is still poorly, but stable…however the blood results haven’t shown anything nasty; in fact they haven’t shown much at all which is confusing the vet. They indicate that your cat is fighting something big, maybe a virus. (You can recover from viruses, right?) She has been pumped full of antibiotics and painkillers to try and help her. Then the vet drops a bombshell: he is concerned about your cat’s breathing. Her heart is racing and her respiration is far too fast. A decision is made: being on the sick ward is distressing your poor cat and making her worse. The vet asks how you feel about tending your ailing cat at home, counting her respirations, checking her breathing – can you nurse her overnight then bring her back in to the surgery the next day? Yes, you can do that. Yes! Just let your chuffin cat come home, let you nurse her. You can count, you can cuddle, you can nurture. Who needs sleep anyway?

You usher the chickens back into their home, surrounding the coop in a bubble of positivity. “Come on Cobweb!” you say to your little hen. “You can do this.” She looks at you and cocks her head on one side, her comb still flopping over her eye. It looks like she’s trying out a new ’80’s hairstyle. You nod at her and she blinks slowly. An agreement of sorts. This has to be the start of her recovery.

And now you have 2 sick pets to care for.


A Cup of Tea


What a beautiful day. Determined to make the most of the glorious sunshine, I ventured outside. As I inhaled large lungfuls of fresh air, I noticed a pretty yellow butterfly. Perched on a fox turd. Nice.

I could hear the perturbed chickens shouting obscenities at me from the bottom of the garden. Accompanied by the chuffin cat, I went to release them from their coop. As I opened the cage door they looked up at me, squawked and hurtled off onto the lawn. As opposed to the chuffin cat who hurtled headfirst vertically up the nearest tree.

Son no 3’s voice drifted across to me: “Mum! I’m stuck on the trampoline!”

I ambled across to him to see what the trouble was.

“Every time I move, I get an electric shock” he complained.

“Best sit still then, love” I replied with a smile.

Chuffin cat on a slideThe poor little chap was having a bad day. He’d already spent half the morning tied to a tree, courtesy of his brothers. Having struggled free, he’d then had a fight with the chuffin cat as she wouldn’t let him play on the slide – she was having far too much fun clambering up and down it and completely refused to take turns. Now this.

I left him in his bouncy prison, rocking a funky new static-spiked hair do, and went inside to make a drink. I love a nice cup of tea, particularly Earl Grey … although my family don’t call it that after son no 3 once misheard the name, causing much hilarity: he thought it was called ‘Old Gay’ and the name stuck.

I looked through the window to see the chuffin cat was now playing hide and seek with the chickens. Well, she was hiding, they were seeking. A large crow suddenly landed in the garden, a menacing gleam in his eye. He didn’t stay for long – who chased him away? Yes, that’s right: Cobweb Gladys the small white hen, whilst the chuffin cat bravely cowered behind a blade of grass.

I brought my cup of ‘Old Gay’ outside and wandered towards a garden chair. The chickens instantly spied me and came running full pelt, their little spindly legs working hard as their fat, feathered bodies waddled from side to side. I placed my cup on the ground and they took it in turns to peer impertinently at the tea. Much to my annoyance, a small black fly decided to nosedive directly into my cup. Chuffin cat stuck up a treeIn a frenzy, Cobweb Gladys plunged her beak into the hot tea. It didn’t stay there long: she shook her head in a stupor, knocking the cup and spilling the entire contents all over the grass. Not to be outdone, Doris DooDah decided her errant sister should lose her ‘Head Chicken’ status at that precise moment, and she launched a full scale mutiny. The chuffin cat hit major panic mode and shot up the apple tree, her claws splintering on the trunk in her haste to escape. There she remained, shouting loudly as if to provide a running commentary on the battle unfolding below her.

I sighed in frustration. How could a simple cup of ‘Old Gay’ have turned an idyllic afternoon into a scene from Gladiator?

Son no 3 appeared, evidently having managed to extricate himself from his static cell.

“Mum, I’m hungry. What’s for tea?” he asked.

“Roast chicken!” I replied tartly, looking at the squabbling heap of feathers fighting at my feet. “Take your pick!”

"Got any grapes?"

A Question of Taste


The chickens were revolting.  Not in the sense that they smelt rancid, well not on a good day anyway.  No, they were causing a riot down in the chicken coop.  Upon further investigation I discovered the reason for their rumpus: their food bowl contained a large pile of dust.  Son no 2 had been tasked with tending them for a couple of days, but he had clearly been feeding them the dregs from the bottom of the bag of pellets.

Cobweb Gladys inspected the bowl of dust, then glared at me in disgust.  Doris DooDah let out a melancholy <cluck> and shuffled off to sit on the perch in a despondent heap.

“Never mind, ladies!” I addressed them cheerfully,  “We’ll get you some more.”

The chickens glanced at each other Cobweb and Cornflake face-offand together let out the avian equivalent of a very loud ‘tut’.  If they could have rolled their eyes, that would have followed.  Cobweb went to join her sister on the perch and there they sat, a perturbed pile of plumage, eyeing me in an accusatory fashion.

Feeling rather guilty, I grabbed sons no 2 and 3, jumped in the car and we shot off to Pets at Home.

Ah the fun to be had at a pet superstore.  The chicken food was soon forgotten as the boys became engrossed in 4 caged degus, fighting it out on a large wheel to see who could stay on it the longest.  Their little beady eyes glistened as their furry bodies heaved and shoved, legs going like the clappers.  So this is what a wrestling match would look like if the men wore furry bodysuits rather than lycra unitards.  Marvellous.

“Please can we get some?” asked son no 3, hope shining from his big blue eyes.

“No” I replied.  “They would frighten the cat.  Besides, they’re too expensive.”

The boys sighed and carried on moseying round the shop.

Suddenly son no 2 piped up, “Wow!  Look!  These are half price – we have to get some!”

Son no 3 ran across to have a look, then recoiled in disgust: his brother had discovered an entire shelf packed with plastic tubs which contained live crickets.

“No!” I said feeling somewhat bemused.  “We certainly can’t buy any of those!”

“Why not?” asked son no 2.  “Will they frighten the cat too?”

“No” I laughed.  “You don’t buy them as pets!”

“But they’re half price!” exclaimed son no 2, clearly trying to appeal to my frugal nature.  He pointed to some locusts: “These are even bigger, so they’re a much better bargain too!”

I shook my head, trying to suppress a smile.

“If they’re not pets, then why do people buy them?” questioned son no 3.

“For food,” I replied absent mindedly.

“EURGH! That’s disGUSting!” exclaimed son no 3.  “How do you eat them?  They wouldn’t be a very big meal would they?”

“They’re not for US to eat!” I laughed.  “Look, they’re for the bearded dragons up here.  Oh and no, we’re not getting a bearded dragon either!”

The boys could hardly contain their disappointment as I threw a sack of chicken food their way and made my way to the till to pay.

So what have I learnt today?Dim Doris

1.  Chickens might bathe in dust, but they won’t eat it.

2.  Degus put on free wrestling matches to endear themselves to boys.

3.  It might be worth buying some half price crickets, to try and increase son no 3’s protein level.

How to Train a Chicken


1  Your chicken needs to know from day 1 that you are important.  Much better than Head Chicken, you are the Top Dog, the Cat’s Whiskers, the Bee’s Knees.  You are great!  Try to remember this when you’re shovelling poo from the chicken coop each day.

Cornflake Phyllis gardening2  Your chicken can easily be trained to help with the gardening.  She won’t need much encouragement.  Barely will you have retrieved your spade from the shed, when she will appear full of enthusiasm.  Once she has finished admiring her reflection in your shiny spade, you are free to start digging.  Point out all the slugs and snails, then watch as she devours all the earthworms instead.  Point out all the weeds that she can eat in the flowerbed, then watch as she devours your prize blooms instead.  Rake all the leaves into a large heap and your chicken will eagerly help.  As you walk away, make sure you turn back for a minute to watch her scattering the leaves with great gusto back across the garden.

3  You can easily train your chicken to eat out of your hand.  Offer some food on your palm and your chicken will eat it.  Hold some food in your hand and your chicken will peck you to reach it.  Place your lunch on a plate and your chicken will jump up to swipe it.  Take a bite of your lunch and your chicken will power jump to snatch it out of your mouth.  Don’t bother trying to reclaim your lunch. Cobweb Gladys running A chicken can run like a first class sprinter when there’s food involved.  Oh, and your chicken will need no encouragement to sup from your cup of tea.  Just make sure that you pick the bits of dead leaves and grubs out of the cup afterwards.


4  Train your chicken to recognise the correct hierarchy in the family.  A swift peck between the eyes Cat and chickenwill tell the chuffin cat that she is far less important than anybody else, despite what she thinks.  Shoelaces on big boots can be pulled like worms from the ground, then left loose to trip up the wearer whilst your chicken nonchalantly retreats to a safe distance.  As the chief food provider, you will automatically be afforded respect and adoration from your chicken.  Until the food has gone.  Then you’re fair game just like everyone else.  Arm flappingBend over and your chicken will hop onto your back.  Lean forward and your chicken will jump on your head.  Sit in the sun however, and your chicken will settle down on your lap to sunbathe.  Hierarchy: an important lesson for you to discuss with your chicken at regular intervals.

5  Train your chicken to recognise that the coop is her domain, whilst your house is your domain.  Even if you do leave your patio door open as your chicken roams about the garden: that is not an invitation to house share. Doris DooDah stare There is nothing worse than finding your chicken standing motionless in your kitchen, her eyes fixed on the plucked bird roasting in the oven.  Awkward, very awkward.

6  If your chicken is particularly unruly, you could try hypnotism.  For the chicken, not for you.  Place the chicken on the floor, grab a piece of chalk and draw a straight line on the floor.  Your chicken should be completely mesmerised, staring inanely at the white line.  Unless they eat the piece of chalk first.  Then they’ll just belch loudly and carry on causing havoc.

7  If all else fails, reach for the grapes.  Doris DooDah dancingYour chicken will do absolutely anything for a grape: jump through a hoop, twirl on one leg, somersault on the trampoline.  The moment you hold a grape in your hand, you are the centre of your chicken’s world.  Just for a split second, until the grape is plucked rudely from your grasp.  Then you revert back to your original status of chief poo picker.

Rules of the Chicken Coop by Cobweb Gladys


1  The appointment of Head Chicken will be decided upon every 5 minutes.  Or sooner.

2  Broodiness is not to be mocked.  A broody hen is always Head Chicken.  She can eat all the food and is never wrong.  Is she.

3  If you must poo in the dust bath area, make sure that you do so after your bath and not before.

4  Cats are not allowed in the coop.  They bury their poo and eat your food.

5  The nesting box is only to be used for laying neggs.  And sulking.  And hiding.CobwebGladysfull

6  Neggs can be laid at any time.  Or not at all.

7  Singing is good, whether or not you need to lay a negg.  Humans love to hear a chicken sing, especially at 6am on a summer’s morning.

8  When roosting, only one perch should be used, regardless of how many chickens or how many perches there are.

9  Tomatoes are not to be touched.  They will kill you.

10  Grapes are not to be squandered.  Or shared.

11  All bugs found on a chicken’s body are the property of the finder, not the host.

12  If you find a bug, you can eat it; if you drop it, anybody can eat it.

13  Regurgitated food is the property of the chicken who eats it first.

14  Preening should be practiced every hour on the hour, and 60 times in between too.  A well-preened chicken is a happy chicken.  Unless all your feathers fall out.  That would make you a cold chicken.

15  Human living quarters should be inspected on a regular basis.  Just remember to wipe your feet on the way out.

16  Any freshly-laid cement in the coop surroundings should be trodden on as quickly as possible.  It’s always important to leave a good impression and you can pick the dried lumps of cement off your feet later to prevent boredom.

Cobweb footprints