Dear Henry

You are magnificent. With your fine squawk, splendid plummage and confident swagger, you cut an undeniably impressive figure. You rule the roost. I take my rather knackered straw sun hat off to you Henry.

You have, like many before you, become rather too enchanted with your own magnificence. Your manly demeanour started to give way to random aggression, your evocative calling of the dawn becoming day-long wailing, your occasional not-entirely-successful attempts at the amorous arts replaced by digging those sharp bits into the ladies.

You started scaring my 6 year old with unpredictable charges, then my wife. Charges became rabid attacks, spurs first, throwing yourself into the fence repeatedly in an attempt to get through. This week you even started trying to catch me out, but you weren’t paying attention to that cane I happened to have in my hand were you Henry. Hurts doesn’t it.

Henry, you’ve become a pain in the arse.

I wonder what has turned you this way. Can it be the dawning of spring and the rising of the sap? Perhaps you’re feeling a little more frisky than normal in this unseasonal sunshine Henry. You wouldn’t be the only one.

But you know what Henry, when my daughter can’t collect the eggs, my wife can’t clean out the hen house and you’re starting to hurt the egg-laying ladies, you can rely on things not staying like that for too long.

Henry, the living daylights were strangled out of you last night* while you were snoozy and I’m truly sorry. It was, however, the best of a short series of options. Tonight you rest in a friend’s fridge awaiting red wine, perennial herbs and Gas Mark 4.

I didn’t strangle you Henry, the owner of the fridge did. I would have liked to have strangled you but I didn’t. I would have liked to as if it was going to happen, it would have been right to have been me. I didn’t for two reasons: by the time you went I disliked you Henry and that’s not a good feeling to have when sending a bird off to its end, and I haven’t done it before and a friend has and you were a big bugger Henry and I thought you might’ve taken more killing than a first-timer would be confident to do. As it turns out, it was quick and easy.

What I do promise Henry, is that I will learn how to do it well and when keeping some chickens for eating this summer I will do the do rather than pass that responsibility to someone else. I will bleed, eviscerate, hang, pluck and eat every part possible before the summer is through.

So bye bye Henry. It was fun before you turned into a total bastard.

* Mum, if you’re reading this, next time you see your grand-daughter, Henry has been ‘gone to a friend’s’, ok.

  • What is it with chicken strangling that it seems to be some rite of passage? You do realise that every 'survival' reality show contains at least one scene where unsuspecting contestants are expected to garrote a chicken or go without supper. Are you practicing for the new Allotto show where Diacono and Linedance visit allotments and strangle the wildlife?

  • They can be complete psychopaths can't they ? Our full sized Sussex chickens were introduced to Cocky Jim a bantam cockerel (a gift) & despite his diminutive size there were no pleasantries, no "how do you does" just him getting down to business. Razor sharp spurs & homicidal tendencies do not a family pet make however but no sane fox would deign to approach his harem.
    Cocky Jim's demise came when he strangled himself in a rather exuberant kamikaze attempt at fox frightening through a chicken wire fence. He wasn't replaced

  • I'm still wondering how you 'strange' the living daylights out of something. Loving the lost consonant.

  • Arabella – I'm looking forward to me and Katie Price forming an unholy alliance over an eviscerated ocelot next series of I'ma Celebrity

    SS – They really are lalah. There's no rhyme or reason to it either, just a switch that clicks and they become nutters. That, and the way the can treat the hens when they've turned, makes it very easy to lose affection for them

    Dawn – I have no idea what you mean…*edits*

  • I was thinking you were rather more upmarket than a Katie Price Celebrity type thing. More of a poor man's Ben Fogle but with rough Devon ways..

  • Chicken strangling is not that easy. Dave's tried it twice and despite following John Seymour's detailed drawings and an on-line YouTube video most carefully, still took much longer over it than felt merciful.

    PS – the bloke we gave one two year old cockerel to said it was inedible…

  • I can't help but think how much more tastier he'd have been if you could have turned him into a capon some time ago…..


  • We gave up cockerels a few years ago because they are a pain. The first one I "sent to a friend's" escaped and I had to pursue him across a field with a shotgun. Not a good experience and not at all sporting.

    I am now quite accomplished at "waving goodbye to hens going for a sleepover at the neighbours". It is simple provided the hen is not longer than your arms.

    The trick with large cockerels is the use of a broomstick as a neck wringing aid. I will explain the principle to you next time we meet. They also need long, slow cooking.

  • James – I'll subscribe to that broomstick demo too. I chickened out (sorry) of murdering my baby cockerels this year and was mercifully relieved of the responsibility by Mr Fox. But will have to face the same problem later this year I expect so must get to grips with it (sorry again) at some point.

    My current Marsh Daisy cockerel Ethelred (he was, when he arrived, though not any more) is suitably deferential to me but for some reason has taken a dislike to my husband and flies at him madly every time he ventures into the hen run.

    The hubster is using it as a good excuse not to look after the chickens when I'm not around: suits me, as the demise of the two baby cockerels was largely due to his less-than-stringent late night chicken counting abilities.

    The trick with teaching a cockerel his place is to make like a cockerel: you chase the bugger around the run till you catch him, then press him firmly down onto the ground and hold him there for about 30 seconds. Works a treat every time.

    But I wouldn't be without a cockerel: before Ethelred came along my Light Sussex hen got so dominant she started crowing, which unsettled me so much I vowed to always have a man around to remind the girls of their egg-laying duties. They fought a lot more without a cockerel around to distract them, too.

  • Poor Henry!!

    I love the last comment about at a friends. Reminds me of when I was a child, our school kept ducks and one went away, we were told in the assembly that it had jumped onto the milk float and gone off to a farm, and as he liked it so much decided to stay. It was years later before I realised the duck had actually died!

  • As a euphemism for death "jumped onto a milk float" sure beats "gone to a neighbours" or the more schmaltzy "crossed the rainbow bridge". When Oldmasock dies I'll be sure to announce "she jumped on a milk float!"

  • …am now reminded of the answer to an oft asked question when visiting sheep farming relatives. "Where's Shep/Spot/Don/Patch ?"
    The answer was always the same.
    "Aah, he died of lead poisoning"

    It took me a while to realise the link between lead & what is in a shot gun cartridge.


  • Brilliant. I also said that to an ex; 'Bye Bye (…..) It was fun before you turned into a total bastard'Class.

  • Brilliantly funny. Sadly, my brother in law’s Samson met the same unfortunate fate after terrorising the family…my father in law wouldn’t go into the garden without wearing a codpiece (that’s just not right.) RIP Henry. I’m sure you will be delicious.

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