Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Cheep's epic tail

Cheep wants to show off his tail . . . in fact showing off is what Cheep does best, he does it to impress girls! He also guards his patch and warns his girls of any dangers, four legged ones and two! I was very pleased that after a formal introduction to photographer Laura Edwards when she spent a whole day taking photographs for the Country Living Magazine article, he behaved courteously (phew! good boy).

But I think Cheep is a tiny bit disappointed that in the published article he only appears in a small black and white photo and from a back view, he'd secretly been expecting to be on the cover in full colour.

So I'll let Cheep show off in a whole blog post to himself.

Cheep hatched in September 2011 under my neighbour's broody, who instantly decided she didn't want to be a mother hen and tried to kill the newly hatched chick. So Cheep was raised in my studio – he thinks he is human and that I am his mum!

Cheep, on my desk, September 2011

Cheep is now just over two years old, after his near-death experience he regrew his missing feathers and is now fully fledged in his mature plummage. Cockerels are far swankier than hens, they have extra long and dense feathers which drape over the basic plumage which is more or less the same as that of a hen. And as Cheep proved, these long dense feathers can save them from mortal wounds if attacked.

So, as you can see, Cheep has long silky Neck and Saddle Hackles in a beautiful mixture of black, gold, copper and irridescent green. If he wants to be aggressive, he can *raise his hackles* and appear to be three times his normal size! He can really scare unsuspecting visitors to our garden by appearing at their ankles in fully puffed-up mode!

And then there is the magnificent tail! In fact technically the tail is just the stiff straight feathers that sprout from the fleshy stump or 'parson's nose'. What makes a cockerel's tail special are the Tail Coverts – the soft draping feathers at the base of his back, which fall either side of the stiff tail. These feathers have downy fluff at the base which gives extra padding around his hips - rather like something Henry VIII might wear!

And the two very long curved feathers which drape right over the top of the tail, are the Sickles - and they are shaped just like a pair of sickle blades. Bigger really is better in the chicken world!

What does Cheep do all day? He doesn't have to eat continuously to produce eggs, like his girls do. But he keeps himself busy escorting his girls to find the best food, this may mean excavation-projects in the flower-beds . . . but mostly it impresses the girls.

Afterall, that's what it's all about – impressing girls and fertilizing their eggs ;-) 

 "Follow me darling,
I know where there's a nice nest ;-)"

Cheep and me, November 2013

Cheep and I respect each other, I know he could become aggressive but won't if I treat him with respect and care. Shared moments in the garden with Cheep are very special . . . then I let him swagger off to impress his girls.



  1. congratulations on your Country Living Article. I love little Cheep looking very grumpy on the calculator ..who would have thought he would have become so splendid?

  2. Love it and what a handsome fella cheep has become! We have Bert who is our baby (also around 2 years old) ...... he is so lovely but does like to round us up sometimes to become part of his clan. Aren't chickens just wonderful :-)

  3. Cheep is a very handsome fellow, but I liked the black and white photo in Country Living - no need for him to feel short changed - his tail in black and white is splendid.

  4. He's such a gorgeous cockerel and definitely playing the lead in his own story. I reckon my girls would swoon to meet him. Lovely post Celia.

  5. Cheep is magnificent! Who knew that little ball of fluffy feathers would grow to be so majestic. The photo of the two of you is lovely, too!

  6. Yes, Cheep looks splendid...but so do you, Celia.I love your hair and the lavender shades in you sweater and scarf. (I suppose Himself would point out that he's a lavender, too!)

  7. Oh this reminds me of a little chick we found on the roadside when we lived in Northumberland many years ago. We already had a few 'rescue' chickens so we decided that we might be able to help him recover and then give him some new friends. NO WAY! After many days and nights of keeping him warm and feeding him from a dropper Junior decided that he was most definitely human and would never lower himself to roosting with the others. Being big softies we did used to let him in and he would lie next to our old dog by the open fire. I even have a photo of him on my shoulder at our wedding reception ( at this juncture I must point out that he was a lot smaller than Cheep - a rather dapper black bantam type) Lovely memories of lovely times - I'm sure you and Cheep will have many more x Jane

  8. Celia, I think that this is the best post you have made. Bless Cheep - and you, dear girl. xx

  9. Great to see such a good healthy bird! You must spoil him! I miss the time I had a small bantam collection! Just have noisy seagulls to contend with nowadays! LOL H

  10. He's a very handsome chap, no wonder his girls swoon. And I agree with him I don't understand why he wasn't on the cover or even centre spread!

  11. Celia, it is so amusing to see Cheep's baby chick photo and compare it to him in his current full feather regalia. He is quite splendid! How splendid for you to have managed his early rescue. Those feathers are so beautiful, and I thank you for teaching me the meaning of hackles.

    I agree with others that the CL photo is very fine, but ... of how grand is your November 2013 double portrait. Fantastic!


  12. Cheep is one impressive rooster! :)

  13. What a handsome chap he is - such stunning feathers!

  14. Cheep will be very proud to be the subject of your post! He'll be getting big headed!! He's certainly a very fine cockerel.

  15. I think he needs a fan club Celia :)


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