In the process of going through all my tea towels, in preparation for the opening of the Tea Towel Museum, I realised that there were some that had a ‘shared connection’ and could be blogged about together. These two, the Cockerel and the Hen, bought at separate times from different places, fit into that category. I bought them both just because of their majestic stature; chickens are ideal artistic material. If you are a good artist, you can easily pick out the specific qualities of a chicken: their bearing, their run, the haughtiness of the cockerel as compared with that fluffiness of a hen, their cute faces, little chicks. I bought the Cockerel in Hunstanton (a good place for tea towels); it was hanging, amongst many others, on a wooden clothes dryer. I couldn’t resist that arrogant stance, those clear lines from the artist. Very dramatic, a proud cockerel.
I bought the Hen in 2016, in the gift shop at Sandringham. There was everything ‘royal’ there except for this. Perhaps the Queen keeps chickens. She (the Hen, not the Queen) was also on a clothes dryer. I love the background colour and the fact that she (the Hen, not the Queen) dominates the canvas. A good Ulster Weavers tea towel. The fact is, this tea towel no longer belongs to me. I bought it for Jai, for her birthday but before I handed it on, I photographed it in order that I could blog about it (I couldn’t justify buying one for myself when I had so many chicken tea towels and that Jai would inherit it anyway. Then she would have two!).
The reason that they have a ‘connection’ or a ‘link’ is not for obvious reasons (they are chickens) but because they are reminding me that I haven’t made a proper decision about the future of my chickens. I am a chicken lover and was devastated by the loss, to a greedy fox, of five of my six layers about two months ago. These were my best bunch of layers, friendly, funny, no ‘top hen’ and all I was left with was five piles of feathers scattered around the pen and Houdini trotting around happily. I think she had been laying at the time of the devastation. I moved Houdini in with the two ‘retired’ hens, no longer laying, because I couldn’t bear to think of Houdini going the same way if the fox returned. Houdini continues to lay one egg a day without fail; she seems happy. One of the ‘retired’ hens has since died (of old age) and I know it won’t be long before Houdini is on her own again and chickens are very sociable creatures.
These tea towels keep reminding me of the dilemma I face. At first, I thought that I wouldn’t replace the hens where I am currently living because the bungalow is up for sale. It is horrendously difficult to move chickens on the day of a house move; you have that window of opportunity to move all your stuff out before the next people move in. It is difficult enough with cats but with chickens, catching them, dismantling the house, transporting it, re-erecting it and unloading the chickens; just too difficult. So perhaps I would wait to restock. I had some expectation that there might be some interest from someone in buying the bungalow. In nearly four months, only one person has viewed it and they thought the garden was too small!! How long will I wait without chickens? I do miss them so much. I miss that routine of feeding them, cleaning them, collecting the eggs, putting aside scraps, talking to them. I will hold on a big longer and make do with the tea towels. But will I give in eventually? Who knows?