Our chicken fence is a bit of a joke. When we took the fences down to build raised beds, we were left with all these farm gates so we lashed them together and built a fence of sorts for the chickens. Over the years the weeds have grown through the fence, taking a firm strangle hold and slowly but surely pulled the fence down.
One of our more determined chickens took full advantage of this loophole and snuck off to lay eggs in secret and found a perfect spot not far from the fence and created an igloo amongst the bindweed, which is another corner of shame we have.
Of course now all the other chickens have figured out they can get out that way too, and with no regard for the rules, walk over the weed infested gate like it is little more than a hill to be climbed, and make their way casually to my veggie patch. Luckily at this time of year there isn’t too much for them to destroy before I discover them and march them back in through the front door. This situation will be rectified really soon.
Anyway, back to my tale of fowl felony….
The mum chicken, who doesn’t have a name because having a rooster has meant chickens come and go with such regularity that you don’t want to get attached to the babies in case they become boys, so you hold off with any naming ceremony until the boys have gone, only for some other sneaky mum to show up with a secret brood. We aren’t all that great at managing livestock. Imagine what we’d be like with cows!
Anyway… yesterday the un-named mum chicken wandered out from under her igloo with seven cute little cheeping and peeping egg shaped fluffy bums. Who were immediately photographed and put on facebook – as you do…. As the evening closed in we thought it would be safer to round them up and move them into the coop. Armed with a mop and a broom, Hubby the Un-Gardener and Tim the Helper attempted to herd them in. They weren’t having a lot of luck as the theory ‘an army marches as fast as it’s slowest soldier’ also applies to a new chicken family. It was then we noticed an eighth chick who seemed to be the one holding things up.
Not being afraid of a broody overprotective mum, I – at great risk – swooped in and gathered up chicks in great handfuls and took them into the coop to the nest I had pre-made for them – to which I might add – they didn’t use! Then I shooed an angry mum in after them and all was well.
I noticed in the igloo there were some un-hatched eggs that didn’t stand a chance as the babies didn’t appear to want to sit still, and mum was constantly up chasing them all about, rounding them back up. Once she had them near, she would purr like a contented cat… She seemed to be doing a great job for an octomum. So I put the eggs in with another broody chicken who is in for a bit of a surprise if they hatch and an even bigger one if they explode!
That was yesterday. This morning she taught her brood how to escape, but left one behind and I found the smallest eighth chick crying all by itself in the coop while the others were out frolicking under the trees with mum. I took the little fella over to mum, but he struggled to keep up and when they clambered over a log, he was on his own again. (I say he – but I think and hope it’s a girl) So I gathered him up and took him inside. He was hungry, thirst and not at all steady on his feet. So I fed and watered him and tucked him up in a bed on a hot water bottle with a teddy bear for company and he had a good sleep.
Having perked up a little I took him home again to mum, who was hanging out with Dad and they were all having a lovely time learning how to look for food. Chicken is such a lovely rooster and a fantastic Dad. He was being so gentle to the babies. All was going well, although I could see just how small and unsteady my chick was next to his siblings. Then they all moved away and my baby was left disorientated and unnoticed by his family. Once they had gone some distance, I went in to see if bubby was OK and mum decided to charge me and came out all aggressive – but in the process, she stood on the baby and squashed him. Well that was it! If she wasn’t going to look after him – I would, and at great risk of peckage – I reached in and scooped him up – He’s mine now.
Come again soon –I wonder how a four day old chicken will enjoy a six hour car trip as we go away for the Easter break?
Sarah the Gardener : o)