Janine rescues some babies after their mother dies
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