Cock-a-hoop about Manacor’s chicken roundabout

Happy New Year! Regular readers of this blog about our life in rural Mallorca will have spotted a new look to the site, and I hope you like it.

There’s also a new look to what’s known locally as la rotunda de ses galines (chicken roundabout) in Manacor, our nearest town. I’ve written before about this roundabout on the town’s ring road, which used to be home to a number of chickens. Sadly, the chickens were removed a short while ago and taken to a new home in the middle of the island. Somehow, one – a small white hen – was missed out in the round-up; poor thing must be horribly lonely and wondering where all of its feathered friends have gone.

Follow those birds!

It’s fair to say that the removal of the chickens did not go down too well with many local people (including The Boss and me). Even the Ses Galines de sa rotonda Facebook page is still active – with 3,403 followers as of today. Scrolling back through the page, you’ll find a mock-up of a funeral notice for Ses Galines (they weren’t dead, but definitely gone).

December 28th was the Day of the Holy Innocents. In Spain this is the day in the year when people like to play practical jokes – rather like April Fool’s Day in Britain. On this date in 2015, a ‘flock’ of mini-‘statues’ of chickens appeared on Manacor’s former chicken roundabout. I approve. But I’d rather see the real things strutting their stuff again . . .

Chicken memorial

Black to where we belong

Chickens return . . . in a roundabout way

Chickens return . . . in a roundabout way

 

FOOTNOTE: January 12, 2016. We passed this roundabout this morning . . . and these ‘chickens’ are no longer there!

Goodbye, chickens . . .

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Some time ago I wrote about ses galines de sa rotonda  – the flock of chickens that had been living in the middle of a traffic roundabout at Plaza Madrid in Manacor for the past couple of years. After an unpleasant episode involving some stray dogs, our feathered friends were recently given a safe ‘home‘ by the local council. Bravo, I thought, at the time.

The island newspaper Diario de Mallorca wrote an article last month about the installation, designed to keep the chickens safe from prowling pooches. The article explained that if the flock grew to more than the usual 15-20 birds, any surplus would be relocated to Natura Parc. Fair enough.

But this week we noticed that the chicken hut has disappeared. And, it seems, so have all the chickens – unless anyone has actually seen them in recent days? Looking at various comments on their Facebook page (3,188 ‘likes’) – if my translation of mallorquín is accurate – all of our feathered friends have been sent to Natura Parc. They’ll be sadly missed by their many fans . . .

A safe haven for the famous Manacor chickens

I’ve written before about my wish to have a few chickens roaming around. It won’t happen – partly because we have seven outdoor cats and I’m not sure that chickens and cats go that well together. So to get my chicken fix, when we’re out shopping in Manacor, I look out for the residents of what The Boss and I (and probably a lot of other people!) have dubbed ‘chicken roundabout’. This grassy roundabout on the busy ring road is home to a number of chickens – who don’t seem at all bothered by the noise of the traffic.

I wrote earlier this year about what the locals call ses galines de sa rotonda. It was a sad post to write because it followed the weekend when the flock had been attacked by what were probably dogs roaming loose. Bodies and feathers littered the grass.

In subsequent months, the number of chickens seems to have increased – and we’ve often seen chicks pecking around at the feet of their mothers. It’s been encouraging to see the flock growing again.

Home cheep home

A day or two ago I spotted something that filled me with happiness: Manacor’s famous chickens now have a hen house in the middle of the roundabout! Food and water dishes are inside and the chickens and chicks must be much safer now that they can spend the quieter hours inside their new home.

I took photographs today, but didn’t go onto the roundabout itself for fear of chickens fleeing into the road and the busy traffic. I don’t know who supplied the hen house, but the Ayuntamiento de Manacor (town hall) has put up notices on it asking people not to feed the chickens or to disturb them. A telephone number is provided if anyone sees anything untoward happening on the roundabout.

If our local town hall has spent a little of our municipality taxes on providing this hen house, I have no problem with that. I’m just pleased that our famous feathered friends can sleep a little more safely at night. It was eggs-actly what they needed . . .

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Footnote: When I wrote my original post on this subject, 2,876 people had ‘liked’ the Ses Galines de sa rotonda Facebook page. Today that figure stands at 3,169!

Manacor’s chicken roundabout

Chickens. I think I’ve previously mentioned my hankering to have a few at our finca in rural Mallorca. I’ve had a thing about chickens since I was a young teenager and we had a family holiday in North Wales, staying in a cottage on a farm. Every time I went outside, chickens would appear all around my feet, and then follow me as I explored the farm. I’ve even chosen a few names for my ‘gals’. . .

In theory, we live in a great place to keep chickens. Our land includes a large open field, where I can imagine these feathered lovelies roaming happily around, pecking at the ground. All we would need would be a safe warm home for them at night. We have no foxes on Mallorca, but we occasionally see polecats – and friends of ours had their flock devastated by one of these. So it would need to be a very secure home.

Besides the sound of contented clucking chickens, and their company when you’re outside, there’d be the benefit of a regular supply of free-range eggs. We’d probably have more than we need (I’m not keen on eating eggs and wouldn’t want The Boss to become egg-bound), but the excess would make useful thank-you gifts for those neighbours who sometimes give us some of their garden produce.

Sense beats sentiment

Alas, it’s not to be. The Boss (who is far more practical than I am) has on several occasions pointed out why keeping chickens wouldn’t be such a good idea. And he’s right on all counts – particularly the one that says free-roaming chickens and our seven feral ‘adoptee’ cats all on one finca could get messy.

King of the coop? Some of the roundabout residents.

King of the coop? Some of the roundabout residents.

So, I’ve been getting my chicken fix elsewhere. On the busy ring road (the Ferrocarril) in Manacor, there’s a roundabout (Plaza de Madrid) with shrubs in the middle that’s become home to a flock of chickens. They’ve been there for ages – probably more than a year; we usually see them several times a week, and are always on the look-out for the latest flurry of fluffy chicks. These chickens rarely seem to stray away from their roundabout and the traffic doesn’t seem to bother them.

"How's our Facebook page doing?"

“How’s our Facebook page doing?”

Manacor’s famous feathered friends

We have often thought they were rather vulnerable in town, with only the shelter of some bushes to protect them. What about passing cats and canines? Sadly, on Saturday, their lack of protection was evident. We spotted four bodies and a lot of scattered feathers on the grass; the rest of the flock had survived whatever had attacked them, but it must have been a terrifying incident for them all.

I imagine we’re not the only ones who were upset to see what had happened: the citizens of Manacor have really taken their feathered neighbours to heart, and people regularly throw food onto the roundabout for them. These clucky birds even have their own Facebook page – Ses Galines de sa rotonda. When I looked just now, 2,876 people had liked it (an increase of more than 30 since I checked last Thursday). And I bet you can guess who one of them was . . .

Unclucky for some . . .

We currently have two poorly pusscats: Sweetie and her big brother Beamer (who only recently had the ordeal of being tied up somewhere by someone, until he escaped – twine still tightly around his neck – and came home). They’ve picked up a virus which has left them with a nasty case of the trots. They’re temporarily indoor cats – about which they’re not too thrilled – in quarantine in our annexe, in separate cages. Still, they’re happier there than during the car journeys to the vet’s in recent days  . . .

For the time being, we’re having to medicate them twice daily, give them a special diet (and lots of extra TLC), and clean out their cages several times a day. Thank heavens for disposable gloves and antibacterial spray. And Betadine, for all the scratches we’ve sustained to exposed bodily parts during attempts to pop pills and administer their liquid medicine. The latter smells of oranges and lemons (not favourites on the feline menu) and obviously tastes vile, as it makes the cats foam at the mouth.

A home for hens?

With our sick cat care duties currently consuming a surprising amount of our time, it doesn’t seem appropriate to broach the subject of keeping more animals. Since we moved to rural Mallorca nearly ten years ago, I’ve had a hankering for hens. We have plenty of land where we could let them run free, and I’m sure The Boss could knock up a suitable hen house in a spare few hours; for an ex-banker he can turn his hand to a very impressive variety of DIY tasks.

But as much as I’d love to be able to collect fresh eggs from our own free-ranging chickens, I think we’re probably stretched to our animal-keeping limit – certainly when it comes to veterinary expenses. Besides, with seven feline adoptees stalking about the place, our finca in Mallorca could be a dangerous place for a feathered flock. I recently learnt that one of the collective nouns for cats is a glaring – and I can just imagine that’s what seven pairs of eyes would be doing if we had chickens strutting around the field!

So, I’ve no need to learn the art of chicken-keeping. I’ll just stick to chickens as art – the only hens likely to call our finca home.

No eggs - just my cluck!

No eggs – just my cluck!