We have peacocks at Cockatrice Farm. They can be noisy, they shit everywhere, and they eat seedlings. But they are glorious to have around.
We have just one pea-hen at the moment, the Marvellous Miss Maud. We’ve had three, but they die very easily. I gather it’s the same for everybody as they are much more expensive than the boys.
Our peahen is locked away at the moment — in case she nests in the fields and is eaten by a fox. Our white peacock, Arthur (named after the king), is in with her at present. He’s not the eldest peacock, and is perhaps too young to breed, but he was hanging around outside Fort Knox (the enclosure shared by the ducks and the peahen) so I let him in.
We’re a bit sympathetic to Arthur. When we had the guineafowl, they bullied Arthur mercilessly. Guineafowl think they are peacocks, but have tail envy. They are now living at Jan’s farm, to the eternal relief of the wwoofers — after you’ve had guineafowl, peacocks seem quiet and unobtrusive by comparison.
We have two other peacock boys wandering around the farm. One of them has appointed himself chief watchkeeper. If there is a car in Barker’s Lane, or a fox in the distance, or anything else he doesn’t like, then Cornelius the Peacock tells us all, at high volume.
This then cues the dogs, Ginger and Cara. Cara is a labrador and not a real dog, so she’s only learnt how to bark recently. This means that she reacts to whatever Cornelius is bothered about, and runs around aimlessly trying to figure it all out. Ginger then runs around because it seems like fun.
We bred some peacocks in the incubator last year, but we had a sudden cold snap and they all died in the days following. We’re hoping for a natural brood this year, or maybe we’ll try the incubator again. My aim is to hold a feast and serve a roast peacock to every table.
On things poultry, we’ve been having trouble with our rooster, “You Bastard”. He was given to us a few months ago to replace “Shut Up” who was the noisiest rooster we had ever had.
You Bastard had been attacking us all, and we ran out of patience.
Our friend Sharen has convinced us that on a farm you want to breed for docile stock — her Dad’s been doing that for decades and has the most placid cows.
So You Bastard got the chop on Sunday and was stewed up yesterday.