Husband was horrified when I told him what I was planning to do. He thought I was mad. Relations have been a little frosty in the Household this week and I thought my pronouncement might push him over the edge.
But I was determined to find Henny Penny some chicks. A month spent sitting on six fertile eggs resulted in two missing, two exploding and two cold, unhatched little buggers. And still she nested, this time on the other chooks non-fertile eggs.
Something had to be done, all that hard work couldn’t go to waste. I had to give Henny her shot at being a mum. A friend told me to slip day-old chicks under her in the middle of the night and she’d wake the next morning thinking they were hers … so I spent hours searching Gumtree, Chooknet, Farmstock, Chooktrader … but no one within cooee had day-old chicks.
Finally, yesterday, a magical email arrived: “Yes, we have all ages, hatching daily!”
And only 20 minutes from our place. I took the kids to swimming lessons then headed for the chookery.
I couldn’t quite believe anyone within 20 minutes of our place could be “2kms up a dirt road” but, yes, they were. I was expecting a palatial country estate for some reason, but it was hillbilly central. We picked our way through the detritus to an old fridge that had been turned on its side and converted to a chick warmer. We thrust our hands inside and plucked out four little balls of fluff: Fuzzy, Midget, Schnitzel and some obscure Doctor Who name I forget. I paid my $40 and prayed it wouldn’t result in four little pecked-to-death bodies in the chook house the next morning.
Last night, I snuck out to the hen house with the four chicks and some broken eggshells to pull my little swifty. I almost couldn’t do it – it was so tempting to keep those cute little chicks safe and warm under a heat lamp in our family room. But no, I took a deep breath and shoved their little bodies under Henny.
The next morning, I anxiously opened the nesting box, there wasn’t a cheep … and not a chick in sight. I panicked, poked around under Henny and discovered four happy little fluff balls, cosy and warm under their new mummy. Henny was making cooing noises and nudging them with her beak. I got all teary …
Things could still go pear-shaped. I’ve warned the Sprogs there might be casualties. I could do without them repeatedly begging “if they die, can we get some more?”
Keep your fingers crossed for me, and Henny, and the chicks.