Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A bit of a dodgy manoevre........

So what do you do when you need to cut the grass...
you get the mini tractor started up,
which already has the cutting thingy on the back of it, that's what you do.
And so as you move the tractor forward,
what do you do if you hear the loud squawk of a hen somewhere near your feet....
you stop the tractor toute suite, that is what you do.
Then you investigate....
and you find that a black hen has set up a nesting camp,
and has a huge pile of eggs upon which she is sitting,
and that you couldn't see her in the first place
because she is sitting half under the tarpaulin which is covering the bale of straw,
and that the wheels of the tractor had been exactly beside the bale,
and that she must have fidgeted a hole for herself betwixt the straw and the wheel,
so she could make a cosy home for herself
while she went into broody mode.
But the tractor cannot be moved any other way except forward,
the space being tight, but still easy to manoeuvre in.
Unless, of course, you have a hen sitting bang up against the wheel,
which naturally creates a problem.
Maybe the grass could have left for another day,
but Lester, for this is the driver of the tractor,
well he had fixed it into his head that the paths needed cutting,
so he was 'a man on a mission', and not to be thwarted.
So what to do....
you call your wife, that is what you do,
first to complain about the hen sitting in such a 'silly' position,
which would not have seemed such a 'silly' position to her,
as I pointed out,
because the tractor wheel added a measure of security for her,
unless it was moved,
which of course would then give her a fright
as her quiet world suddenly became unquiet,
this I pointed out, which did not go down too well with himself,
as I have said, he was a man on a mission,
so then I was given instructions to act as traffic controller,
or in this case,
tractor controller,
and to let  him know if he accidentally drove over the hen.
He also said to stop photo shooting the occasion
and to concentrate on the job in hand.
As you can see, I didn't take any notice of that bit of instruction.

The arrow shows the tail feathers of the hen.
Lester has inched forward slightly.
So far so good.

A bit of backward and forwarding,
and all is still well.

..... and you just about see a tiny black blob of tail feather...

Lester says "Is she still alive?"
From where I am taking this photo it looks like she is not,
but it is the manner of broody hens that they shut themselves down
and go into a kind of half light world,
where all bodily functions slow down,
and their breath is hardly there at all,
sort of like a very deep meditative state.
So I give her a prod,
and she does a 'For goodness sake, leave me alone' cluck,
so yes, she is still with us.
I pull the tarp over her.....
meanwhile Lester heads off into the distance....
...while the rottweiller girls pretend that they are not interested,
but I know they are....

So what to do with them...
take them inside with me, that's what I have to do,
otherwise they will be raiding that black hen's nest of her eggs,
and that is not going to happen,
not on my watch.
So it is the morning of the next day,
and I am out feeding the other lot of chicks who recently arrived,
and I go have a look at the black hen,
but she was not there,
but her pile of eggs were,
but there she was, just over there,
and with her were three little chicks.
So what do I do...
go get Lester and pass on the good news, that's what I do.
He has a close look at the remaining eggs,
sees that a couple look like the chicks are starting to break through their shells,
but they can't be left out in the air like this,
too dangerous for them,
so we carefully pick up all the eggs,
take them indoors,
and put them in the incubator.
For the rest of the day we watch as the eggs start hatching,
first one, then two, then three.
There is an awesome magic in watching chicks arrive.
It added an extra shine to the day for us.
Night time.
The black hen and her three chicks are now in a protected run.
She is asleep.
So we take the three chicks out of the incubator and snuck them underneath her.
She hardly moves.
They are quick to take advantage of her duvet of feathers,
and after a little bout of cheeps, go quiet.
During the night,
another two chicks hatched in the incubator,
the loud complaints of the newly hatched of 'Where's my Mum?'
alerting us to their arrival.
They went out to join the others.
And so it is a good thing that hen's can't count,
because she went to bed with three,
and will wake up with eight!
Off to go feed her now,
so bye for now,


rusty duck said...

Lovely story Vera! I hope Mum and chicks continue to thrive.

Dawn McHugh said...

wonderful news, so glad its a happy ending :-)

Sol said...

This is the cutest story ever. It really made me smile

Vera said...

JESSICA, all are doing well......

DAWN, it was joyful day seeing that hen with her three chicks in the morning, and then watching five more arrive in the world. Magic!

SOL, I smiled a lot as well yesterday as those chicks were hatching!

John Gray said...

Broody hens
Tough as a Rotherham junk dog

Cro Magnon said...

Ours used to nest in the most odd places, then turn up with their chicks in tow. It was all rather magical.

minwks said...

A good rescue Vera. My hubby is always 'a man on a mission' as well. I can understand there would be no deferring the mowing of the lawn.
I had been told that if you introduce new hens to your flock it should be at night as when they wake up they simply accept that that new hen had always been there. Is that true?
I cannot have hens where I live, but we still travel too much to even contemplate it. Presently in the canals of the Netherlands for three months. Missing harvesting all my apples and pears amongst other produce. Neighbours and friends will benefit this year.
Regards Janine

Coco said...

What a lovely post! Hope Momma Hen and the new arrivals continue to do well.

Vera said...

JOHN, you are right! Broody hens are tough birds!

CRO MAGNON, I would agree about a hen and her chicks suddenly turning up being magical. When we have got the chickens organised in their own space I shall miss these little surprises.

MINWKS, For today, this minute, I could do with a couple of days on a boat pottering along the canals! As for introducing new chickens to the flock..... chickens can't see at night so it is easy to catch them and to introduce new flock members. This is very useful as trying to catch chickens during daylight hours is positively not do-able! Hope you are enjoying your trip.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

What a story! Congratulations on your new additions.

Vera said...

LISA, they were a surprise bundle of chicks, that's for sure!

Rhodesia said...

What a fun story with a happy ending. Well done you two and the chicks :-) Keep well Diane

DUTA said...

Your story has a happy ending. Unfortunately, we sometimes read or hear about tragic events involving a tractor, a toddler, pets. The man on the tractor doesn't see them for some reason, and runs them down. Great caution should be taken before activating a tractor.

Vera said...

DIANE, mum hen is doing well, and her chicks are thriving!

DUTA, the life on a farm is fraught with various dangers, but no worse than living in a city and having to negotiate furiously busy roads. As with all things, there is always associated risk.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

so glad!!! i've had hens who wont accept new babies so i'm thrilled to hear yours are doing so well. excellent work!

Fat Dormouse said...

What a lovely happy story!! I needed that today to make me smile

Vera said...

OFG, those chicks are doing alright, and now another hen has come along with five more chicks in tow!

FAT DORMOUSE, so glad I made you smile, made the writing of the blog worthwhile!