Continued over
Our Svenson spends hours hurtling from one end of the garden to the other in
pursuit of encounters which have all the delicacy of rugby tackles. For all the
practice with his long-suffering harem, however, he has so far failed to produce any
offspring. Frankly, he has problems getting the right angle. During moments of avian
passion, he looks like a jockey on the final furlong, backside in the air, with little
evidence of actual bodily contact.
Throughout these inept demonstrations, his unwilling amours remain squashed into
the grass, looking variously alarmed, irritated or resigned. Then, once the action has
finished, they bolt for freedom.
Even during the depths of winter, his lustfulness never quite deserts him. But it’s with
the arrival of spring that his loins seem to begin warming along with the weather,
resulting in ever more harassment of his reluctant conquests.
Meringue does her best to avoid his attentions by hiding in the hen house, where
another harbinger of seasonal change is the growing number of eggs laid in the
nest-box. With this step up from the intermittent egg production of winter, we give
away any surplus to people we know. Not that they are always grateful.
A relative of Jane’s, who is determinedly urban, once refused the offer of our eggs,
saying, bafflingly: ‘We do have eggs, but I like to know where they come from.’
Waitrose presumably. We decided not to say that we know exactly where our eggs
originated, and could often match each one to the feathered behind that laid it.
In an ideal world, the owners of those behinds like to get out of the hen house and
into the outside world as soon as day breaks. But it’s Svenson who greets the dawn
most enthusiastically. As the first spring flowers begin to add colour to the slate
greys and mud browns of the preceding months, he makes the most of the
lengthening daylight by fitting in as much ‘activity’ as he can. Occasionally, an
element of strategy creeps in. Instead of attempting his usual rape and pillage, he
will stop close to a knot of girlfriends and start to peck at the ground in such a
showy way they rush over to see what’s getting him so excited.