My buddy Zebedee
A long story. A pal of mine answered an advert for two hens and a house. He asked me to go with him to collect the hens and house which we dismantled and put in my trailer. On the way home he said he had nowhere to put the hens in so as a temporary measure I put them in the hen house I had from when I kept hens.
A week passed and when I asked him about the progress he was making, he said he had decided he didn’t really want the hens after all. So he brought the house to me and I bought a galvanised steel run for them.
After a while one of the hens became ill and in spite of veterinary care and bringing her into the house for a week for treatment, sadly she died. Because the remaining hen was lonely, I bought three young Silkie hens as company for her.
All was well until they got older - then one became broody. I have found out since that Silkies have a tendency to go broody but at the time I thought she might be egg bound. Unfortunately my vet didn’t recognise she was broody either so after a week of x-rays and warm baths and a huge vet bill, it was suggested that I bring her home as she might be better in an environment she knew. As she had been a week in a cage with no opportunity to nest, her broodiness had been cured so all was well.
However after a while, two of the Silkies again became broody and after two purchases of fertile eggs which turned out not to be, I made a return journey of over two hundred miles to buy some day old chicks.
I placed these so-called day old chicks under the broody hens and by the next morning all thoughts of motherhood were dispelled and the hens wanted nothing to do with the chicks. In the meantime I had purchased a smaller house and run for the two broody hens so I erected that in my dining room and placed the chicks in there while the hens returned to their original house and run.
I turned the central heating up and had it running 24/7 until the heating panel you suggested in one of your letters arrived. One of the chicks died soon after and although the light Sussex chick turned out to be a bantam as described, the two Marans seemed to grow quite large.
When the chicks were all virtually full grown I bought another run for them and also purchased a new eight by six shed and lined it with hardboard to prevent draughts. It is also fitted with a nightlight and a frost stat controlled tubular heater. With all new nest boxes, perches etc. in place I put all the three chicks and the four hens together in there.
I should say that as the other run had got waterlogged in spite of the fact I had mounted the base on top of six inch pallets to ensure good drainage and covered most of the run with tarpaulins. To make sure the same thing didn’t happen with the new run I had both the run and the house covered with transparent tarpaulins so they got light but very little rain was blown in.
All was going famously until the two Maran hens I had bought achieved maturity and turned out to be cockerels. I was with them one morning when they started to fight. Luckily I was able to separate them and put one back into the old house and run.
I spoke to a number of vets and found one who injected the cock bird with female hormones. This used to be called caponising I believe. Anyway after a number of weeks it had made no difference so the vet gave him a second dose. Again this had no effect and as the poor guy was on his own in the old house and run, I again erected the small house and run in my dining room. Since then Zebedee as he is now called has become a house pet.
He has the run of the house from when he wakes up a little before eight o’clock in the morning until he goes to bed at four o’clock in the afternoon. He has assumed the role of top dog and bosses my four cats unmercifully. He follows me all around the house, unwilling to let me out of his sight. He sits on the back of my chair while I am at the computer and like to play with the little hair I have left.
Unfortunately I banged my head on an open cupboard door which resulted in a tiny blood spot. Since he noticed this and couldn’t resist pecking it, I now have to wear a hat when I am at the computer.
Although I am now over eighty years old, he ensures I get plenty of exercise following him around and picking up poop. He is a great pet and wonderful company. We talk at great length or rather I talk and he listens very attentively with his head on the side. He also makes various noises from growls to barks like a dog as though he is trying to talk to me.
As I am nearing eighty one years of age, I worry about what will happen to him when I am gone. He is intelligent and found where I hid the wax worms I bought for him and he helps himself to the cats’ food when he wants.
All in all he is a great friend.