Cruella is stuck on the chicken shed roof. All four of the chickens, after days of snow, have got tired of being confined to their coop. So on the first sunny afternoon, they have flown up on to the roof of the nest boxes to gaze at the areas in the rest of the garden where they used to be able to peck freely. So I find all 4 of them there when I go up to collect the eggs. Because, being chickens, and having chicken brains, they have forgotten that they won't be able to fly down again. They are too fat and too scared. They are also badly out of practise. One by one, the other three have let me lift them down but Cruella is made of sterner stuff. Every time I make a move towards her, she backs away.
"Stop being silly" I tell her-"you can't stay up there forever"
"I shall fly down myself". she answers. "I am just resting my wings". There is a quiet clucking from the rest of the birds below-are they making fun of her?
When the chickens first arrived, Cruella quickly established herself at the head of the pecking order with a few quick but spiteful nips at the other chickens. This is how she earned her name. Since then, I have come to have some respect for her courage and fearless leadership. She is a Captain Mannering amongst chickens.
"Go on then" I goad her. "Nobody's looking".
She shuffles towards me on the skiddy surface of the snowy corrugated iron roof.
"Make the others to go away first" she hisses in my ear. I look at her with suprise-it's not very easy separating chickens at the best of times.
"They are stupid". She is hissing now. "Just show them some corn".
So I do-and after about 10 minutes, Bianca, Joan and Hilda have all happily waddled away to sit by the frozen pond with a scatteing of corn.
I return to find Cruella still in situ on the roof, in a squatting position now, with her eyes tight shut.
"Do it Now" she hisses. "Put me on the ground. Just don't break my wings".
I oblige, and a couple of seconds later, Cruella is fluffing herelf up on the ground and rejoining the others, squawking importantly.
I am left to ponder how often the bully turns out after all to be the frightened coward.