A few years ago now, pottering about the old chicken coop, there was a strange sight…a sort of chicken shaped bird but with a long red neck, featherless and topped by a head with a huge beak and a topnot of ginger like hair!
The bird was trying to enter our coop, excited by the prospect of meeting a flock of hens and was doing his upmost best to show off, strutting, twirling in circles and stomping his feet. I tried to push him away only to find there were two! After a short few unsuccessful minutes, another appeared! My hens by now had also gathered something was up and like me found these huge dancing cockerels a little intimidating.
So was my swift introduction to the Transylvanian Turken or Cou-nous ( naked-neck) in France. My husband funnily also comes from Transylvania, and yes he is tall, has a lot of hair in his head and well, no beard, so I suppose naked, but that’s where the similarities end…although he is actually a good dancer! These birds are popular and bred to withstand harsh conditions, heat and cold. Heavy, almost like a huge watermelon in size with strong legs and hook beaks, they still resemble their prehistoric ancestors.
The boys settled in our little hamlet…I have posted about them here, and we adopted one…Mr Chicken. I adore him, he is still with us, and pushing on for almost five years old now. He commands respect from all our flock, overseas the hierarchies, watches our for the girls to go to bed on time and keeps the geese in check.
In 2018 I bought in six cous-nous hens…Sweetie, Doobie are still here and Clara arrived last year…a girl amongst seven boys who are now my batchelor flock. They are the sweetest birds, social, talkative, with strong characters. I was smitten. Those funny little ginger haircuts and strange necks somehow made these guys as cute as buttons…so true to chicken maths…I added four more. Welcome Edith, Mollie, Odette and Martha.
Edith is smaller than the rest. Martha is the leader. They make a friendly ze-ze sort of noise to greet me each morning as I enter their temporary home in the duck house. Six months old now they are exploring more, getting used to their new beau…Rudi our lone Cous-nous cockerel and finding their place with the other birds. I love this transition from nervous youngsters to brave hens, looking for nest boxes, flirting with the boys, testing my patience at bed time, tired but trying to stay up regardless and forming friendships.
I am always relieved too when they grow up. I suppose its a little like being a parent, you worry about their health, that they are strong, that they are happy, that they aren’t being bullied, that they will have lifelong companions. I know they are to some, just chickens, but to me they are bursting with life and a life ahead to live.