last updated 3.10.09
Hatched: 24th October 2008
Weight: 2.58 kg
Breed: Dark Dorking
Current Status: laying
Total number of eggs: 48
Biggest egg: 61 g
Smallest egg: 52 g
Average weight: 56.5 g
Neroli was the first of the Peeble girls to get a name. It was her beautiful dark eye-markings that did it – she looked like an Indian princess, so we named her after the essential oil Neroli – distilled from the bitter orange, and named for the 17th century Italian princess, Anna Maria de la Tremoille of Nerola, who always wore it. (Yes, I know. The book I’d first got the name from miswrote it as Indian princess. It still suits her!)
We have no way of knowing which egg Neroli hatched from, but based on the calculations we made when they were a couple of weeks old, we think she probably hatched from egg #7. We think this makes her a (probably) full sister to Lily and Frida.
By five days old she was established as the biggest of the four girls (well, she and Princess alternated occasionally until they were four weeks old, but it was all Neroli from there).
Poor girl was also the first of the Peeble grils to go through her juvenile moult. At four weeks old she looked terrible! Fortunately her new plumage came thorough quite quickly, and in the space of a week she went from looking way worse than everyone else, to much better than everyone else. I think it’s the only time she’s ever looked anything other than exotically beautiful …
In retrospect, it’s strange it took us so long to notice how different she was from the others. She always had the darkest markings of any of them, but it wasn’t until she was six weeks or so old that we realised her coloration genuinely didn’t match the other girls … what was she?
We don’t really understand the genetics of Dorking coloration, but as far as we can make out, she is a Dark Dorking. Her chest feathers are much darker, and are edged with black rather than silver. Her back is ashy grey, and the pencil markings on her hackles seem to accord with the descriptions of Dark Dorking.
So not a thrush then!
As the Peeble girls got older, Neroli and Rachel became absolute rogues. Rachel particularly liked to fly out of the run and go for a wander around the garden. And if it wasn’t Rachel, it was usually Neroli. Her difference made her stand out from the others, and she was always interested in whatever it was we were doing.
Imagining ourselves being able to say goodbye to her was becoming increasingly unlikely. So, after much umming and ahhing (and lots of sessions with Neroli coming over for cuddles, or to hop onto a shoulder, or … you get the picture) we gave in to the inevitable, and decided to keep her.
Joining the Flock
The process of integrating Neroli into the main flock was actually quite easy. We had the Bach set up at the northern end of the LSA, so the afternoon that we took the three Peeble girls to their new owner, we started by installing Neroli in her new accommodation.
She spent a couple of days in there, and was let out on her own for short supervised scritch sessions in the orchard. Then we gradually started letting one or other of the girls out with her – again, under supervision. Bessie first – she wasn’t quite as laid back as we’d hoped, but didn’t really chase Neroli. We’d vaguely hoped that Poppy might remember her daughter and form a friendship (like Bessie has with Lily and Frida), but it wasn’t to be. The surprise was Frida – other than the odd “remember your place” peck, they got on fine. So Frida got to spend quite a bit of time outside with her little sister. (Or possible niece …)
By the end of the first week, we were able to let them all mingle together under supervision. Neroli was still being put back into the Bach if we weren’t able to be there, but that was more a precaution than a necessity. And by day ten we were happy to leave them to their own devices during the day. There was still the occasional bit of niggle, but Neroli was happy to just put her head down and move away from whoever it was. And she was getting more and more distressed at being separated from the others at bedtime. A good sign!
It was just on two weeks when we let Neroli start roosting with the others. Our main concern was just that she might get badly pecked during the usual going-to-bed-jostling-for-position. It wasn’t helped by Bessie still being unfriendly, as well as the last to bed. But Neroli quickly learned that her best bet was to head upstairs as soon as Venus did, and to duck her head into someone else’s petticoats if latecomers wanted to argue about where she should sleep.
Still waiting! (Soon? Maybe? Please?)
Neroli is, without a doubt, the most fearless girl we’ve had so far. She has developed either a fascination or a hatred of gardening implements – try to rake the run, and she’s on the handle, pecking the times. Try to shovel the path, and you’ll be lifting her up with the blade. We daren’t try using the garden fork when she’s around!
She’s also, like Frida, partial to the view from a human shoulder. This is fine if you’re seated somewhere, but a bit disconcerting if you’re leaning through the doorway. Or if you’re standing up.
Which brings us to her next trick: she can leap like a flea. We were impressed with how effortlessly she could leap onto our shoulders. Ok, neither of us are especially tall, but it’s still a decent height to do from a standing start.
Then she leapt onto the top of the fence.
This bears repeating. She leapt to the top of the fence. The orchard fence. Thats just over 2m tall, and is just floppy wire netting. And she did it with no run-up, and no scrabbling. We were watching her do it – she stood there, lining it up. And leapt.
It was quite hard to get her down.
We didn’t have a camera handy, so didn’t manage to get a photo. Since then she’s also made two excursions into the plum tree (bah, that’s nothing! Barely a metre and a half! With a solid branch to land on!) – neither photographed. We’re trying to resist the temptation to coax her up there for a photograph, as we don’t think she needs any encouragement whatsoever.
At least we can be reasonably confident that she can get herself out of trouble any time she needs to. (As long as she isn’t on an open plain somewhere …)