We do our best to be consistent, but nature will be nature.

Meet Gary T (short for Thompson). Flock mates call her “Mr T”.

Try as we might nature loves to throw a curveball. Take Mr T, for example, she comes from a batch of eggs with known parents. Neither of which should be able to produce a partridge coloured chick. I quite like surprises, but at over £5 per egg I do was wishing to have a bit of an idea about what to expect after 21 days incubation.

Nature plays with genes in a way perfectly unencumbered by our human weakness. She will mimic dad’s tail and spangle it with mother’s stars. She would tame the wild cock with the same lightness of touch with which she stops other boys and girls from even hatching. Mother nature can be somewhat predictable, the trouble is our predictions aren’t always wrong.

Chickens are ancient beings, and surprisingly durable. A quick check on ancestry dot com reveals the humble chuck is related to the T Rex (Mr T would be proud). But that was years ago, what are they like now?

Every chick looks like food to a mother hen. Even chickens eat chicken (unless the nurturing hormones are being released). Chickens have a number of genes that affect egg production. When these genes are expressed, mother hen will experience a flood of hormones that prevent her basic instinct to peck at, and eat, anything she can. Some hens exude this hormone strongly and will go broody at the drop of a hat. Others will get restless after the eggs have warmed up and then eat them all.

We humans have selectively bred over much of our shared history with chickens for the fighting genes, rather than anything more usable. Our main poultry breeding effort has simply been a massive cock fight. Speaking of cocks… Gary T is apparently a partridge, but she’s obviously expressed the unexpected. Either her parentage is doubtful or nature has thrown a curve ball. Either way, Gary T will make a beautiful garden bird with a lovely temperament. Maybe she isn’t ‘perfect’, but if she’s good enough for nature, then she’s good enough for me.

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