Michelle is in a race against time to find two broody nests
With Michelle Dunn
Surprisingly, no-one has ever asked if they could feature my chickens in their latest summer blockbuster film. This is a shame, because my chickens are not only devastatingly photogenic, they have actually thought up their own plot.
Every blockbuster film has a moment where the brave hero (or heroine) fights desperately against the clock in order to save the man/woman/dog/ sports team they love. There’s a close-up of the clockface showing the seconds ticking away, then the camera pans back to epic struggle of the hero (or heroine). Well, I am in the same boat as that heroine, fighting against the clock to save the life of two of my hens.
It all started one evening when two of my hens didn’t turn up for dinner. I searched and called for ages, but there was no sign of the missing pair and so reluctantly I had to close the rest of my chickens in for the night. There were only two possibilities -– they had both been taken by a predator, or they had both gone broody in a spot so well-hidden I couldn’t find it.
Two days later, one of the missing hens suddenly raced up to me and pecked my feet until I gave her some grain. She was alive! And broody, so I needed to follow her back to her hidden nest site .... as abruptly as she had appeared, she vanished again and I was left none the wiser as to where she was hiding. The next day exactly the same thing happened again, but this time with the other missing hen. On the plus side, they were both alive. On the minus side, they were both sitting outside at night on nests and completely vulnerable to a fox.
It’s not unusual for a clever hen to sit outside, undetected by the fox for three weeks. The problem comes when the eggs hatch, and the smell of the newly hatched chicks can be detected by the fox. It was essential that I find the hidden nests before the eggs hatched. But how?
Three more times the broody hens have appeared, dust bathed, eaten corn and then vanished again. They are too fast for me to follow them, and my hens roam on eight acres of land. That’s a lot of searching. I must find them though – the clock’s ticking.
“I must find them – the clock is ticking”
Above: Missing - will I find her in time?