Alice is attending to a piece of Golden Delicious apple, one of several I scrunched up for her and the others. Apples are in season at the moment, and the gnarled old tree next to the chicken run is chucking its fruit all over the furthest-back part of the lawn. (Backyard birds of other kinds are having a field day with those apples, and I don’t see why my chooks shouldn’t get a share.)
This fine figure of a chicken is one of a flock of six. You’ll meet the others presently.
A Rhyme Misremembered?
The title of this post comes from a nursery rhyme, which initially I recalled as ‘Higgledy-piggledy, My Black Hen’. The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes set me right with ‘Hickety, Pickety...’, whose first known publication date is 1853.
Hand-me-down rhymes with a communal history have many variations, and mine may be one from long ago, but “Higgledy-piggledy” seems unusual here because this sixteenth-century word for “a haphazard arrangement” (my definition — I like its contrary nature) probably first described the herding together of pigs, according to other Oxford sources. Back then, chickens didn’t come into it.
Alice the Australorp isn’t like the black hen of the rhyme. She doesn’t lay eggs specifically “for gentlemen”: they don’t appear in her pecking order. Also, it would be a rare hen that could lay “sometimes nine and sometimes ten” eggs — in a day, anyway.