Oct 272011

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If my calendar-counting is correct, my new arrivals are now 23 weeks old… that’s Bunty and Bertha, the chocolate Orpingtons I bought in the summer. Two sisters, who I think were hatched together from the same stock. Although now I am wondering… because Bunty and Bertha – or my Twinnies as I call them – look more like Little and Large than genetically similar siblings. We are definitely talking Danny de Vito’s “Twins” here…

Whilst Bunty started off bigger and has continued growing exponentially, Bertha has always been a bit of a titch. She is what you call height-challenged, and is now possibly as wide as she is tall, her growth apparently being concentrated in girth.

A quizzical-looking BuntyWhen they walk around the garden together, Bertha needs to look up to see Bunty. Bertha can fly maniacally out of the Hen Garden and (regrettably) into the Human Garden. To my astonishment, so now can Bunty – though in her case it’s not the impressive upward launch of her Twin but more of a laboured hop. We have had to put a garden chair on our side of the divide so she can get back (the alternative was for me to lift her back). Chickens can’t always work out how to do the opposite of something they have just done. So having managed to escape, they were at first unable to get back without coaching! Or a chair!

One of the best pieces of information I ever read about Orpingtons was from the delightful book by Francine Raymond, “The Big Book of Garden Hens”, in which she says that a large Orpington would need rocket powered assistance to get airborne. That marvellous image has stuck with me over the years and possibly formed the basis of my desire to own an Orpington (or two). I just wish my two had read the book… but then we do have a very low mesh fence, which rather incredibly kept all our other hens safely confined until the Terrible Twins arrived and started breaking rules.

But there’s another thing about Bunty – her feet. They wouldn’t look out of place on an ostrich. Her long legs look like a marathon runner’s, built for strength and stamina. But as she also has a few small feathers sprouting on them I am starting to doubt her pure Orpington parentage. Might she be a closet Brahma? Is Bertha really a bantam? Can someone tell me what’s going on?

Of course it’s all academic, as they are here to stay.

We just hope that Bunty won’t get too big to fit though the popholes…

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