Winter has arrived here in Melbourne, and with the first cold snap our poor chooks started moulting. It’s an annual happening that has me worrying like an old mother hen every year. The weather turns cold, the nights draw in and right when it’s coldest, the chooks drop their feathers and become naked and miserable. They look as ugly as it’s possible to look, feathers patchy, naked bits on show, crest fallen (literally). Peaky plumage – bad hair days.
The first time it happened, 4 years ago, I was taken by surprise. Selma dropped all her feathers one cold night. When I let her out in the morning she was starkers except for her head. I fought back an urge to rush her straight to the vet, and anxiously Googled instead. Thanks goodness, just the annual moult. I worried that she was cold. She certainly looked chilly and despondent. What could I do to help? I decided to knit. I Googled again and came up with a knitting pattern for hen jumpers from the UK. She didn’t like the jumper at all. Ungrateful – like all children who score home knitted jumpers from well-meaning mums and aunties. So I made her another little jacket out of some super soft and rather tasteful grey and black striped velour I had left over from an Edenstar dress. She liked that one better, or disliked it less – not as itchy I think. My neighbour and her little girl came over to feed the hens one afternoon. They had their own key and let themselves in. Surprise! Selma was wearing the same as her daughter.Two stylish chicks.
Well, last week both Selma and Chickpea started moulting simultaneously, and now Saffron is showing the first signs too. Bocconcini is looking the most miserable – sympathy I guess as she seems fully feathered.
I went straight to our local wool shop. They were delighted when they heard about my project, and showed me around enthusiastically. I chose 100% wool with a crepe feel that they assured me was not itchy. Only the best for my girls. The ladies in the shop have insisted that I email photos.
I was inspired by a little jumper I knitted for miss S when she was tiny. It was a multi-coloured striped affair that I sort of made up as I went along. I have employed the same technical precision for this project too. I used the pattern from Little Red Hen rescue but there’s also a Penguin Foundation pattern I’d like to customise when I get a moment.
I loved knitting these little jumpers. I do like a bit of craft. The misses S and E prefer to call it witchcraft – sounds so much cooler than knitting.
Well, I’ve finished 2 jumpers and I couldn’t wait to try them on the girls. It was fun and games in the back yard this morning trying to catch suspicious chickens for a modelling assignment. Cue the Benny Hill music. I’m afraid I can’t report that they like them any more than the previous ones, but I think they looked very stylish.