Our little Aracauna decided she wanted to be a Mum. She did this last year but I kept heaving her off the nest. After a month of the same carry on this year, I thought perhaps we’ll give her some fertile eggs and see what happens. I mulled this over out loud for a couple of weeks until Gilbert went on line, bought 5 and annnouced we would be picking them up that evening on the way to going out to dinner. WHAT!!!!!
This pretty much sums up one of the differences between us. I mull it over. Consider all the options. Think about the costs. Make a plan and then think of best way to implement it. Gilbert just does it and deals with whatever happens, when it happens, if it happens.
Now, I had five eggs without any of that done. Eeeek! I headed down early next morning with my ‘clutch’ thinking I will slip them under her and make her day. I didn’t want to meddle too much preferring nature to rake its course. I nearly died to find she no longer was on the nest but happily scratching outside. Bloody hell. Shes been there without fail for a whole month, kicked up something awful when I have pushed her off, and now shes not interested? I decided I would move her to the re-cooperation unit with the eggs and hope she rekindles her desire to sit. But no she wasn’t going anywhere near THAT nesting box and so the eggs sat alone for two whole days while she sat outside in a huff. I checked her late at night…she sat outside alone. I checked her in the pouring rain, surely I thought, she will have found the eggs and be happy now, but no in the dark and in the rain she sat bedraggled outside, alone. Next day I fed her some extra special titbits but as I watched her, her head hanging low, she made a very sad almost sobbing sound as she watched the other birds eating on the other side of the fence. I decided to give up and move her, and the nest, back into the fold.
I read everything I could lay my hands on about hatching eggs and discovered that they can be 7-10 days in fact alone, and still be ok. This was day 3 so I watched and waited until …success! She was back in her old nesting box happily egg sitting again. I continued to read and discovered also, eggs needed some humidity and setting the eggs onto some turf would give that. I just happened to have a square of turf we had grassed in a mesh cage for a playcentre thing, so I cut that to size and thought I’d wait for a chance to change it out, as I didnt want to meddle too much…and waited.
Our household now numbers seven, with a daughter, partner and three children moved home. It’s an interesting thing this communal living and sometimes there are bumps along the way but usually nothing some good communication doesn’t fix.
Another daughter, Tara stayed the weekend as well, which made six little ones under seven. I got up early and replanted some kale we had at work that needed moving. Checked Henry Penny was still on her nest and headed in for breakfast with the family before they all left. Gilbert went to do a work job and the two families went to a Whanau day at playcentre. I did think about going, but overheard something about cleaning and decided I’d stay back, thank you very much. After an hour of tidying up the kitchen, hanging out washing and putting on the next load, I was reminded very much of life with lots of little ones. I didn’t NOT enjoy these times funnily. It just was, what it was. Loads of washing, dishes, and meal prep.
After everyone was gone and jobs done I watered the new seedlings and made a mental note they were ready to prick out, before planting my rows of corn in the hen run. Having three bays they have recently left the first bay and Monie and the kids helped me empty a cubic metre of compost into there which the chooks throughly enjoyed, scratching around in, and hopefully poohed a lot as well. I read corn loves a high nitrogen environment and I’ve planted fifty, so hoping for a bountiful crop. Getting the rows ready I heard a commotion in the hen house so went and looked through the peep hole and watched as two other hens harassed the sitting hen, trying to get her off the nest. It seemed like they wanted to lay in there too. I thought I wouldn’t meddle until she began that funny noise she made the other day, so figuring she was stressed I went up and put two pretend eggs into another laying box. I wanted to encourage the other hens to lay in a different box and almost immediately one jumped in that nest and settled in to lay. The brown shaver however kept harassing Henny Penny until she jumped right in there with her and basically pushed her out. Well I saw red then and opened up the nesting boxes and gave brown shaver the push and took the chance to redo the nest.
I laid the turf neatly in and placed the hatching eggs back in and went back to planting out the corn. Tara arrived back with Julia a German girl who has recently moved to NZ with her husband and daughter Alise and is now attending playcentre with Tara. She also bought another playcentre boy, who is Czechoslovakian with her. What a wonderful cultural mix there is at that playcentre. Julia grew up on a small block in Germany so was really interested to see what I was doing and had bought home made jam and bread for the table. Now that’s the kind of friends you want!
Then one day….twenty one days after she started sitting to be exact, I went down to feed the hens and heard a rather peculiar peeping noise. I opened the nesting box and to my surprise found two of the cutest little yellow fluffy chickens. I felt so chuffed you’d think I had laid and hatched them myself. I went into the hen house and sat and watched quietly till I spied a third little one who was black come out. Mother hen was making a very different noise now. It was actually a purr like a cat. Who would think a hen could purr. She tucked them under her safely and I actually think she smiled at me.
They are now just two weeks old and it has been quite amazing watching her raise her chicks. The first few days I didn’t have chick food and so made a concoction of ground up maize and oats porridge. The Mother hen would gulp up beak fills of it and drop it on the ground and then peck at it. Making a different sound again she was instructing them to follow her lead. Indifferent to me she kept doing this until she realised I was still there and she lifted her head high and strutted about cocking her head from side to side as if she was asking me what the hell did I think I was doing watching them as she called them to her. There she sat refusing to let them out until I left.
Just added another language to my repertoire. Hen talk!