Thank you all very much indeed for your response to my previous post. Your comments: the insightful, the sympathetic, the kind – and the, ummm, not quite so kind – were all appreciated. You are, as ever, my sterling Internet of Phenomenal Greatness.

I have tried to answer the questions commenters raised about the Whys & Wherefores & Whats in the aforementioned comments section, so I will simply move briskly onwards and say that John has agreed to continue paying out assisted reproductive rope for me to hang myself with, simply because he doesn’t want a crushed and malfunctioning wife.

The gameplan is that I take until the end of Spring to get myself lighter, fitter, healthier, and thus give myself the best possible chance of success, and the fewest possible If Only We Hads. I also have IBS with an assortment of delightful gastric complications, and a torn-during-last-viable-pregnancy-and-not-healed-at-all abdominal muscle, neither of which I’ve been quite organised enough to actually tell my GP about, so I am planning to see if he can improve my quality of life a little.

I have wangled an appointment with my original consultant tomorrow (who is now the hospital Medical Director-type and, I am sad to hear, retiring this month) in whose opinion we both place some faith. I was profoundly disappointed that my previous IVF cycle yielded no frozen embryos, and, among other things, would like to discuss ways in which I can, within reason, prioritise a degree of quantity over quality – without landing myself in OHSS territory again. Tall order, I know: maximum bang for your buck. Or… something.

John is 40 in May, and last year I miscarried on his birthday. Ehhh. My absolute unwitting bad. This year, I am insisting he parties in some fashion, ergo: I must generate hospitality not hospital visits. But if I start a cycle immediately after his birthday, and it’s successful, that puts my ~8-week Maximum Miscarriage Danger Zone smack bang across Harry’s birthday, for which I also have plans. And leaving it any longer makes me feel twitchy. The calendar is already dog-eared from my feverish attempts to work out just when I could miscarry with minimum family impact. Apparently, some people just use a calendar to work out holidays. Fancy.

In other news – God, yes, let’s have some other news! – I bought two new hens yesterday, neither of which I actually needed, as such. One never needs hens. One simply chooses to suffer the mild dementing effect associated with them. I brought them home at lunchtime in a cardboard box, and ejected them straight into the darkness of the henhouse to settle and orientate themselves. Except they both summarily decided that Out was better than In, and avian chaos followed.

The home contingent consisted of two cockerels (one of whom was actually already on death row for the heinous crime of being sold to me many weeks earlier as a point-of-lay pullet, and having proved impossible to give away) and 4 brown, quarrelsome, endearing ex-battery hens. Gertrude the Chick, the chick I suffered over, was eaten by a buzzard on Christmas Eve. (Goddamn it, nature! Still, at least the buzzards had a nice chicken Christmas dinner hor d’oeuvre.)

My new Black Rock hen is evidently Head Girl material, and she joined in the general troughing (I had brought food. With hens: always bring food. I have read my Du Maurier, and have a healthy respect for beaks. Also, no open-toed shoes if you require feet-assistance for base 10 numeracy.) with such gusto that she temporarily passed as a ringer amongst the other girls. The two cockerels, unfortunately, had spotted Fresh Meat; both crowed Dibs! together, and Ugliness ensued between them. 

My other new purchase, a White Star (a breed known to Hairy Towers as Pterodactyl Hen, due to distinct predominance of beakiness & scrawniness) had already warmed up beforehand on an entirely unscheduled, and inconvenient, circuit of the Domestic Fowl Trust’s checkout area before being inserted firmly into the box, so she exploded out of the henhouse like an agitated feathery missile sat on a firework. Everytime the shiny-white little idiot blindly scuttled past the feeding area at warp speed, the cockerels would break off their ferocious attempts to murder one another in order to set off in hot, lust-driven pursuit – but there was no catching her. I took the adult course of action and stood mithering for a while, before somehow managing to divert the neurotic white blur back into the henhouse, and hoofing the Black Rock in after her. I slammed the door shut.

The alpha cockerel – the one I actually intended to own – took up station outside the door, expectantly.

He looked at me. I looked at him. His wants were fairly transparent.

I let the ladies out at dusk for a quick look around – by which time, the beta cockerel was no more, John having finally neatly and swiftly despatched him at my fervent request – and the yampy bloody White Star took off around the paddock again. If you ever felt the need to watch me thundering about, waving a garden fork and muttering: last night was your missed opportunity. Whilst I was trying to re-corral the pterodactyl, Black Rock fell victim to the cockerel’s determinedly amorous advances, which is my euphemism for violent rape. The poor girl eventually just let him get on with it, but he persisted in waltzing frantically until I shooed them all into the dark for a well-needed rest.

I can only assume he’s compensating for something, because even in undisputed possession of his flock, this morning was a Trying Time for Black Rock. I stood in the howling wind and freezing cold watching glumly as, riddled with male insecurity, and ignoring the ex-batts completely, the cockerel leaped on the suffering thing every 5 minutes, chasing her dutifully around the run while in full courtship display, sporadically leaving her be in order to chase pterodactyl hen – whom, btw, he is never, ever gonna catch in a flat race. That girl has Pace.

This afternoon, the White Star has mainly been visible as a nervy pale gleam at the far corner of the hen run,

 rummaging among the undergrowth, keeping a weather eye out for the cockerel – who is still assiduously, although happily less violently, courting Black Rock, whom I feel is trying to find somewhere discreet in order to lay the egg I’m sure she has been nervously retaining since yesterday – but as anyone with a young family who has tried to locate a nice quiet toilet cubicle in time of acute emotional and physical need will testify, peace is always at a premium in busy communities. Having said that, she has just launched a squawking, unprovoked, beak-extended attack on the White Star, emerging triumphantly wafting white feathers – so perhaps she isn’t clenching awkwardly and shifting uneasily from claw to claw after all. The ex-batts, mightily offended to a woman at the disruptive arrival of such irresistible shapely scarlet-black allure in their midst,

 are all gathering around the cockerel, trying SO HARD to flutter their feathers winningly at him. I am no expert on hen behaviour, but they look Jelus As Hell to me.

 All human life is here! And I bet I have no more eggs this week.

This week, in which I turned 37. I hope my ovaries are doing better in that department.

14 Responses

  1. Actually, I tell a lie. It was last week. The calendar is evidently now so over-scrutinised I can’t get anything right.

  2. If you are pregnant on Harry’s birthday you will change your plans – in the grand scheme of things this will be a small price to pay for a sibling. I’m glad your husband is being so understanding – I was worried there for a bit after your last post. If I’ve one piece of advice (having had a long IVF journey) it’s to be calm and go with the flow – put things in God’s hands (the universe, nature, grace – whatever you believe in) and let it lead you towards the life you are supposed to have. Good luck! xxx

  3. Ahh the calendar shuffle. I have an (almost) impenetrable code on my work calendar filled with little letters: SP= start pill, B=blood test, BS= bloods and scan which, it occurred to me the other day could equally be read as ‘bullshit”. Seemed appropriate at the time.

    I’ve also, at last managed to squeeze in a ‘can’t be screwed up by IVF holiday’ using the much the same logic as your post-John’s-birthday plan. Which helps.

  4. Laughed hysterically at the grand soap opera that is Chickens. Ahh, memories. Ahhh, bloody goddamn chickens.

    The fewest possible If Only We Hads. That’s it exactly.

    Also, timing! AAAAARGH. It’s always going to somehow be utterly awkward. I live in terror of miscarrying on or about H’s birthday, you know. After all, I’ve done my birthday, Christmas, Halloween/my niece’s birthday, and Valentine’s Day, so, you know, Fate Is Looming. Oh, wait, haven’t done Easter. BRING IT ON. Yeah. And then you totally never ever stop to think you might NOT miscarry, because, well. Because.

    I hug you. Onwards, salad-eaters united! Fewest possible If Only We Hads!

  5. I always used to try and avoid miscarriages clashing with travel plans. Happy days.

  6. I had no idea chickens were so…dramatic!

    Good luck on fine-tuning your calendar. But, I recommend throwing it away and letting the chips (or miscarriages, or not) fall where they may. Time is fleeting and all that. I’ll just hope that you don’t have a miscarriage, though.

    Happy Birthday!

  7. Oh, I do love it when you do a poultry post! I never knew waltzing had a name, or that it was A Thing and not just something our demented Polish roo used to do. I miss that wretched thing!

    Ughhh to the miscarriage math.

  8. We’re just about to become first time poultry owners….. I’m now a little scared!

    I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you over the next few months.

  9. Your post gives new meaning to “The Chicken Dance” for me!

    • Oh Ma Gawd. I have vivid, VIVID memories of dancing to this – we call it the Birdie Song in the UK – as a very young schoolchild. My best friend’s family were the sort of wonderful nutcases that, en masse, erupted into it in the living room, apropos of nothing. I just got mugged in memory lane!

      • WHO invented the Birdie Song? Just WHO?

        I wish one of these five people was now a famous celebrity. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was Angelina Jolie, or Jennifer Aniston, or David Cameron?

  10. When is your 8 week maximum danger period? Because I’m sitting here with a calendar (admittedly Outlook, so it’s probably lying and stealing money from my bank account) so I’m sitting here going “Stimming in May, swerving past John’s birthday while still being able to drink, heading to ER in June, Harry’s birthday is August, the moon is in Scorpio and a partridge in a pear tree…what am I looking at?

    Also I need your help convincing my other half that I need – NEED – chickens.

    I will kindly steer him away from the “Dynasty” of chicken epics that you have. He will volunteer that his life with me is enough of a soap opera, and he will not be wrong. So I need you to help out. Leave the alpha mentions, headless chickens, etc out of the polite conversation.

    • That’s the best scheduling I can work out, too. My main fear is stimming over-running as usual and egg collection going wrong timing-birthday-wise, which would be My Very Bad.

      Oh, honey, the whole point of hens is the soap opera! People think it’s the eggs, but… nah. It’s essentially like playing avian Sims… except they don’t respond to guidance! And they’re no stress, really. Really! The bottom of your garden would be perfect for hens. Perhaps Alastair could have fun building you a nifty henhouse? Giving some ex-commercial hens a home would be a lovely way to have the feel-good factor for everyone, too. For a short time (recent changes in law outlawing battery cages, thank God) you may still get battery hens who have never seen the sky; its wonderful seeing them realise that things like grass, worms, insects, freedom and fresh air actually exist. They’re a piece of piss to look after: just keep an eye out for the usual mites. No cockerel, obvs, but they’ll get a pecking order – literally – and the boss hen will keep them in line. They’ll demolish your food scraps (‘cept orange peel for some reason. Mine hate orange peel.) and layers pellets aren’t particularly pricey. They will soon become tame enough to sit on your foot and peck out of your hand; Nick & Nora will adore collecting the eggs (the Schrodinger’s nest box element of egg? no egg? is half the fun) from whatever corner they have chosen to ignore your loving lined nest box from, and lots of breed are entirely kid-friendly. And best of all? Hens are RESTFUL. Really, really restful. I potter about up there in all weathers, happily watching them mooch about, squabble, scratch, and investigate. And despite the fact that two months ago I said Never Ever, I am now thinking of incubating fertile eggs again as a cheap (ish!) way of acquiring some of my favourite Pretty breeds. Ehhh. I LIKE hens.

      Just make the run fox-proof, that’s all. If you are pro-hen, you have to be vehemently anti-fox.

      Ohh, look, what a total panegyric!

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