French Hens

Ja­nine res­cues some ba­bies af­ter their mother dies

Your Chickens - - Contents -

Chicks find sanc­tu­ary

Is that a chicken in your pocket? It’s not ev­ery day that my hus­band comes back from his morn­ing walk with the dogs and says “I’ve got some­thing in my pocket for you”.

But that’s what hap­pened a cou­ple of weeks ago.

I was feed­ing the (too) many ducks, geese and chick­ens that lodge at the bot­tom of my gar­den. Maid duty, I call it, since they don’t lift a fin­ger to help me when it comes to clean­ing up, serv­ing food and water or any other kind of work.

So there I was col­lect­ing the day’s eggs when Mark, my hus­band, came up to the pen to let me look in his jacket pocket.

Four beady lit­tle eyes stared back at me.

“Baby chick­ens,” he said and took them out and put two tiny crea­tures in my hands.

“Their mum got run over and they were run­ning about in the field at the top of the hill; they’ve just hatched – they were right by the egg shells.”

Wild chick­ens in this part of France are a fairly com­mon sight. Pretty much every­one in my vil­lage keeps chick­ens and some­times they es­cape and dis­ap­pear into the fields and some­how sur­vive. There’s an old aban­doned barn just round the cor­ner from my house where three fam­i­lies of chick­ens live in har­mony.

Any­way, the lit­tle chicks just stared at me silently, shell­shocked no doubt and miss­ing their mum. We took them into the house and got a lit­tle cage ready, set up the heat lamp, put some water in a saucer and then drove to the lo­cal an­i­mal store for chick food.

When I got back, I could hear them cheep­ing be­fore I even opened the front door. They are the loud­est lit­tle chicks I’ve ever heard, de­spite their tiny size and the fact that they hardly weigh any­thing.

It only took them a cou­ple of hours to fig­ure out how to drink water, eat food, run about, climb the sides of the cage and cud­dle up un­der the lamp. It amazes me how their in­stinct kicks in and helps them sur­vive and thrive. My own chick­ens are far too lazy to even at­tempt to hatch an egg let alone act like a re­spon­si­ble mother so I guess I am now mum to these two lit­tle or­phans.

There’s ab­so­lutely no way to tell whether they are boys or girls, though my neigh­bour An­nette as­sures me that a black dot on the head, as one of them has, means it’s a boy. As she also says this about ducks and is right about 50% of the time, I take it that is not re­ally a re­li­able way to tell the sex of a bird and I’ll just have to wait and see!

PIC­TURED: Ja­nine Marsh, chicken mum, and her charges

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