Months ago, we had spoken about getting hens. They are lovely to have on the farm and would be a great interest for the girls.

However, the Government’s edict that schools were to close due to the coronavirus pandemic had just come into effect, life was moving fast.

I was busy getting to grips with the new almost-out-of-control situation regarding work, no school and a generally upended daily life, when Michael announced that eight hens were arriving on Monday.

Typical, I thought!

Putting manners on the current chaos was hard enough without new hens in the mix. Of course, the kiddos were thrilled.

The hens were friendly and once the girls got confident handling them, I was sent away. It is lovely for their independence and self-confidence. Nelly named each hen and was particularly fond of Brownie.

Then, idle talk of a rooster very quickly materialised into the real thing.

The rooster

One evening a few days later, Michael came home with a rooster, a handsome Polish bantam rooster. It was late, but Nelly was allowed to settle him with the hens. Katy and I met him the next morning.

Hannah Bolger's daughters Katy and Nelly were delighted to get new hens just as the schools closed due to COVID-19.

He was black, with golden highlights on his neck feathers and green hues on his body. His head had a funny hat of messy feathers, like Bob Marley’s hairdo, and a red spikey mat comb.

His tail feathers were exquisite, arching out from his rear end and cascading like a fountain, balancing out his impressive head gear and completing his striking good looks.

He was immediately christened Blackie (a colour theme perhaps?). His handsome features and spunky character eclipsed his tiny size!

Hannah Bolger's daughters Katy and Nelly were delighted to get new hens just as the schools closed due to COVID-19.

Even so, the girls found him intimidating, so I was nominated to catch him and to make him friendly! This went well the first day. I caught him, which was tricky because of his minute size, while he hissed and threatened doom.

After a few holds, he settled slightly and stopped hissing, but was still very much in musketeer mode. It was the following day when things went wrong. Badly wrong.

The tragedy

When catching Blackie on day two, I felt the best approach was to look confident and self-assured. I did a very calculated manoeuvre and had Blackie firmly caught, I thought, with both wings clamped to his body.

As I was turning around to my innocent little angels, Blackie slipped his wings out and began to beat furiously. Determined not to let him go I didn’t relinquish my grip. Time slowed down. He struggled even harder.

I felt my hands slip.

In an instant, he flipped a full 360 degrees. I heard it. I felt it. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Oh dear. Oh no.

I looked at Nelly’s face - her reaction was critical to how effective my damage control tactics would be.

I’ve never seen anyone’s jaw drop open before, but her little face did.

Her face was a mix of incredulous disbelief and mirth. Katy was astonished and launched into an immediate full-on belly laugh.

Blackie shot off at full speed around the hen shed. His tail feathers, that beautiful plumage, scattering in his wake.

“Oh Mummy, what will Daddy say?” We all laughed and laughed, hysterically.

‘They’ll grow back’ I gasped, with complete confidence.

I hope so. Poor Blackie, he’s more like butty now!