22. Apr, 2014

The safe house!

When I went to lock up our girls for the night, one of them was missing. This always makes me anxious! I counted them over and over again. One had definitely gone astray and it was young Twilight.

       Many of you, who follow the tales from our home for waifs and strays, will remember Twilight. She was the day old Pekin Bantam, we adopted and put under ‘Big Baby’ who was desperate for a chick of her own.  Now Big Baby, as she was known, was a large and rather elderly Buff Orpington, eight years old in fact, who woke up one morning to discover she was a new mum.  

       Big Baby carried ‘Twilight’ around on her back until she became too heavy. It was wonderful to watch them.

       Well sadly, Big Baby died of old age just a short while ago. She will always be remembered for the amazing mother she was. Meanwhile, Twilight has become such a character. Being small, she can get everywhere, even into places she shouldn’t be. It was no wonder, she was missing.

       I searched all the sheds and even the old summer house down by the pond but she was nowhere to be seen. She loves to dust bath in the greenhouses but she wasn’t there either. I called to my kind and unassuming husband. It was getting late and the foxing hours would soon be upon us.

      We moved everything on the porch, thinking she might have gone to sleep there, but again, we didn’t find her. We searched in the log house and the straw shelter, we checked behind the row of compost bins and we even checked the house but the poor little hen just couldn’t be found.

       I stood very still in the early evening light and thought carefully about where a little hen would go. I thought, if she were human (which I sometimes think she thinks she is!) what would she do. She would go home, if she could.

       Now obviously, Twilight’s home is with us at our home for waifs and strays, but in the beginning, when she was with her mother, her home was a safe house, a small and secluded hut with its own little garden.  Why hadn’t I thought of it before?

       The little safe house is a short distance away from the big house (which is home to all the hens) and so I headed in that direction.

        I opened the side door and with my heart in my mouth (excuse the expression) I peeped inside.

        A mother’s intuition is usually right and my intuition was perfect this time, for there she was, cwtched up on a nest of straw. She had gone home because she was broody. She wanted to make a nest so that she could have young ones of her own.

        When she saw me, she puffed up her feathers, making herself twice her normal size (hoping she would scare me off)and grunted at me.

        ‘You’ll have a little chick all of your own one day,’ I said, smoothing her silky soft feathers, ‘but not just yet.’

        I picked her up gently and took her back to the big house where she ate her late supper before joining the others for bed.

        It is my guess that she will go back to the safe house again tomorrow and tomorrow I will consider the possibility of adopting another day old chick. But it’s late in the evening now and as my father once told me, ‘don’t make any important decisions after 4pm!’ So I shall continue this story tomorrow. Until then, I wish you all a goodnight!