Yesterday we had a delightful experience driving up to a property in the hills to fetch fertilised Wyandotte eggs and a new young pullet. The chook breeders were a lovely couple on a heavenly property with wandering peacocks who roost in giant oaks grown from acorns from Sherwood Forest... you know, generally more breathtaking charm than you can poke a stick at.
As well as eggs and a chicken they offered us coffee, lemonade, biscuits, peacock feathers for the boys and a chance to feed carrots to their old horse. I think they were lucky we didn't set up permanent camp. There are some genuinely lovely people around, aren't there?
Anyhow, back we came with our eggs.
The broody hen settled beautifully on the eggs.
|um, that's the bottom of a cat litter box, the most practical thing we had to make an easy-access brooding nest!|
Later in the morning we discovered these two out in their yard, pecking about, taking dust baths, eating and drinking and preening like they'd never been broody at all.
Oh no! The eggs!
In the nest house was little Chargold and a clutch of abandoned eggs.
Thinking, thinking, Google searching... theory: little Chargold still cheeps like a newly hatched chick.
These chickens had been been snapped out of their broodiness because Chargold's cheeping had told their (small) brains that the eggs had hatched! That sweet little noise tells a mother chicken that it's time to get off the nest and out and about with her new babies.
The upshot of it all is that Chargold has gone for a little holiday with Henny, Penny and Julia Gillard, the three pampered hens who live with my parents. (Julia's a red hen, of course.)
Ms Broody settled back well on the nest, fluffed out her feathers and tucked the eggs under with her beak. We're hoping they didn't cool down too much and are still viable.
The other chook (who seems to have turned broody since the fox attack) has been shut out of the nest house to give the original broody some peace.
We've finally given these two big ones names. I was feeling guilty somehow, as if not naming them had meant we left them unloved and vulnerable to fox attack.
Being Silver Laced Wyandottes, they're now Lacey (on the nest) and Doily (the other one).
Chargold can come back when her voice 'breaks' or the eggs hatch, whichever comes first.
Phew. Complex, hey?
- Jane x