Last night, when I went out to shut up the chickens and feed the feral cats, I heard cheeping. I didn’t realise the significance, but thought it was rather silly of tits to build nests where there was a possibility of cats getting to them. I wasn’t being very bright, of course.
I told you – twice, I’m afraid – about the young hen that went missing and was caught by a fox. Well, I saw her again this morning. I didn’t realise at first, I thought it was her sister, but I did see her alarm at being spotted and where she went to hide. I fed the cats and let out the hens and, when I turned round, saw the chicken again, eating from the feeder. But was it? At a second look it was her sister.
I left it for an hour and went back. And, on checking the hiding place, I spotted a chick. I felt pretty stupid. The pullet that went missing was barely over five months old, but evidently she had laid her eggs and brooded her chicks and I’d fed the cats ten feet away and not noticed her. I came indoors and asked Tim for help. We moved the bigger coop and I went and fetched the chicks into a bucket Tim was holding, and carried the hen as well to the new coop; which I’d furnished with chick crumbs (thanks again, Tim), corn, grit and water. I named the very young mother Slapper.
Slapper would not care for her chicks, but just stood there, while they were getting cold and despairing. I left them for ten minutes so that she could calm down, but came back to find one chick floppy and cold. I put her in my bra while I panicked. I did have alternatives, which were to find foster mothers or borrow an incubator, but the latter seemed too worrying for a first-timer and, luckily, Canasta’s daughters are all broody at present. So, with Boy’s help, I put two under one girl and three under another, shut the henhouse door and left them for a while. In the meantime, LT and I set up two more coops (the first one is really better for bigger fowl) and then went to have some lunch.
I’ll fast forward to later in the day; not least because I don’t want to relive the anxiety of it all. All chicks stayed where they were for a few hours so I opened the door because I didn’t want any chickens to be put off coming home to roost. But then, I found two chicks following Slapper. I put them in a coop. I checked on the rest. One had died, I’m sorry to say. The other two were under their aunt, whom I’ve called Foster. I put the three of them in another coop. Slapper was fussing about her two babies, so I opened the coop and she jumped in.
When I last checked, at dusk, the two chickens were each settled down, each with two babies. Fingers crossed there. I came in for a very long, hot, relaxing, healing, destressing bath. And I’ve warned LT, there may be no limit to the wine I drink tonight. But only “may” because I really could do with a good night’s sleep.
Later, I practised the hymns for tomorrow’s church service. There was no sign of the fourth hymn in the book. I had already mentioned that I didn’t know it, but any competent person can learn a hymn in fairly short order, so I wasn’t too concerned – but if the congregation doesn’t have the words and the musician doesn’t have the tune, confusion is rather on the cards. So I rang the Rector, who said he’d look into it…a phone call five minutes later – he’d thought the name of the hymn was line three rather than line one. And I knew the hymn after all. So, all in all, I’m mostly glad that I checked in advance and didn’t try to wing it on Sunday morning.
Darlings, that was my Saturday, in which nothing at all went as I thought it would. Much as I appreciate random and unpredictable, this was egregious. I’m surprisingly cheerful about it all, however, and certainly deeply appreciative of LT for doing housework while I was otherwise engaged.