This week, back to the chooks. Or rather, the getting of new chooks. And, therefore, new egg colours. After extensive research, we decided to send off for some hatching eggs. We had already decided what colour of eggs we wanted, so then it was on to the mighty interweb to source some.
A teletext or two later (as my friend Biff’s mum used to call emails), we were waiting for the overnight mail to arrive and bring us half a dozen (let’s not get carried away, just the six will do) Old English Pheasant Fowl eggs.
No, they are not old. No, they are not pheasants. Yes, they are fowl. And yes, these ones are English, coming all the way from Lancashireshiredom as they did. In an egg box, surrounded by corrugated card, with each individual egg packed in cotton wool.
They survived the journey and we placed them, lovingly, in a special run with its own lovely living accoms, with lovely nest, shavings on the floor for those gi-nor-mous poops that broodies get off the nest every so often to have (if you have never experienced this phenomenon, you’re soooo not missing out), and an individual drinker and individual feeder. Chookie bliss.
Or so you would have thought.
Broody hen No 1 had been Olympic-standard broody for almost two weeks. We had been waiting for the eggs (the Lancashireshiredom lady sending them had been collecting for herself for a few days, then there was a Bank Holiday or three) for a wee while, all the time watching her for signs of non-broodiness.
She was committed enough on the days the eggs arrived to still behave like a chook possessed, squawking and grabbing fingers with her vice-like beak. Painful.
We grabbed her and popped her on the eggs. She sat on them for a while... then appeared in the run. Not good.
The next morning, she was out in the run, pacing up and down, desperate to get back to the rest of the flock. Epic fail. Out she went, and without a second glance.
A quick rummage in the main coop and, hurrah! Potential broody No 2. Flat to the floor? Check. Growling? Check. Pecking at all approaching fingers? Check. Tail up and in fan formation? Check. Weird, unpleasant odour? Check.
So, we lifted her out (avoiding her beak) and placed her gently on the eggs. Down she hunkered and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. Second time lucky, we thought.
Next morning, same old story. Pacing the run and desperate to get away from the eggs. And, for good measure, she had added to the clutch. Broodies don’t lay, so this was Bad News.
And so we liberated No 2.
And panic set in. Now what? We needed No 3, and fast. A chicken-y friend up the road has the most broody hens in the whole of Scotlandshire, so a few hours later we had No 3 in a box in the back of the pick-up and our fingers well-crossed.
Despite the trauma of escaping from the box and having to be chased aboot the back o’ the truck, then screeching and flapping all the way to the special lovely pen, she has spent the last 24 hours sitting very tight.
Thank you, Tracy Henmummy. You’re a star. And so is Broody Brenda.