Quail diary

Quail for eggs — life in a London garden

Quail diary – 107. And then there was one …

with 6 comments

The sixth quail died this week: Tom – last of the Tom, Dick and Harrys – popped off peacefully in the catbasket in the sickbay, aged three and a half. Ripe old age for a coturnix.

Now, only Emmet is left, ribbetting mournfully in her retirement bungalow by the back door. On very cold nights a microwavable petbed offers small comfort, but otherwise she huddles alone in the extra straw, a princess-on-a-pea balanced on layers of cardboard, peering out at the wintry garden from behind her clear plastic windbreak and extra bubblewrap. There are sunsets, and moonlit nights, daily visits from the hand bringing food and clean water – even occasionally new dandelion leaves, but mainly emptiness. This is no life for a quail. She belongs in a flock, but a new flock would bully her.

Luckily, Bantam neighbour has offered temporary respite. When the weather gets warmer Emmet will move (winter palace and all) two gardens down, into the hen run, where she can lean on her zimmerframe and watch the antics of the six survivors there through her picture windows.

Poor old soul. It’s not as if I can park her in front of the telly and turn up the sound. Will she lay again this year? The days are getting longer already, 8 hours 35 minutes and counting. Will she live to see the spring equinox? Or will she die of boredom.


6 Responses

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  1. Poor old Emmet. I’m pleased that Tom had a peaceful end though.

    I’ve been thinking about your quail recently. Will you be getting any more livestock?

    • Hi Alison, Am seriously considering taking on some ex-battery hens, but haven’t had time or weather to build out the run yet, construct roosting perches, nesting box etc. Busily scavenging useful bits of broken pine beds and tables however from local skips (amazing what people throw away!) I have to keep fighting off Bantam Neighbour for the wood, because she’s mending her bee enclosure after the winter gales. spring soon – well, soon-ish.

      pottingshedder aka Jay Sivell

      January 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      • Just noticed this reply, sorry! Keep forgetting to tick the little box to receive follow-up comments.

        I think chickens are a great idea. We were considering ex-battery hens ourselves and didn’t mind whether they laid or not as we’re not great egg-eaters. However it looks like we may be moving to Dorset and there are lurking foxes there so possibly not for a while.

        I do hope you’ll document your chicken-keeping experiences. I’ve enjoyed the Quail Diary so much and I’m incredibly grateful you took the time and effort to diarise the trials and tribulations. You have a wonderful writing style and I’ve laughed and cried with you through the whole experience.

  2. You are, without doubt, the kindest poultry keeper I have ever encountered!

    Flora Fauna Dinner

    January 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    • Hi, no fool like tender-hearted fool, is there? Am loving your blog (blue chicken run, sunny garden bench pic surely against trades description act for Scottish weather in January??) Was very sad to hear of Rosie’s death. Missed a section late last year – what happened to your quail? And where’s the novel… Jay

      pottingshedder aka Jay Sivell

      January 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      • Thank you! My poultry shed was overcrowded so my quail were split between two poultry-keeping friends who wanted to try them. Half live on and half escaped dramatically a few weeks ago. Born free… I try not to think of it. Cleggover died from a suspected heart attack brought on by his intensely physical love-life. It’s what we all aim for, surely?

        Flora Fauna Dinner

        January 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm

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