Martin Gur­don

Martin Gur­don’s in­domitable hen Priscilla has gone broody and is busy in­cu­bat­ing some chicks

Your Chickens - - Contents -


I’m writ­ing this at the doc­tor’s surgery, wait­ing for the nurse to have a look at my right foot, which is throb­bing slightly from a gar­den-re­lated ac­ci­dent

I was en route to feed the chick­ens, and trod on a piece of wood with a pro­trud­ing rusty nail. A clas­sic piece of dumb­ness that comes un­der the head­ing of ‘don’t do what I did, gen­tle reader’.

Fast for­ward half an hour and I’m home, hav­ing fully ex­pected some med­i­cal ‘tut tut­ting’ and a tetanus jab. I didn’t get ei­ther, thanks to an un­der­stand­ing nurse and the fact I had a tetanus jab af­ter a fer­ret bite in 2014. Reg­u­lar read­ers might re­mem­ber that some­thing killed one of our ducks. This turned out to be a ma­raud­ing fer­ret which, af­ter bit­ing me, was even­tu­ally cap­tured in a dust­bin and re­leased into the wild.

Now I have a slightly throb­bing right foot on which I have just hob­bled to be­lat­edly re­lease the chick­ens.

Ac­tu­ally, things have taken an in­ter­est­ing turn in the hen­house. Af­ter tak­ing a cou­ple of years off, Priscilla, the Brahma hen, has gone broody, and is now cook­ing half a dozen po­ten­tially fer­tile eggs.

We’re still strug­gling to find peo­ple sell­ing chick­ens af­ter the bird flu lock­down, so took a punt on eBay, find­ing some­one sell­ing fer­tile, heavy breed eggs. The ven­dor was hon­est enough to say that he had a mixed flock and any off­spring could be less than pure­bred. Still, we paid £12 for six eggs, which ar­rived by post 24 hours later, care­fully pack­aged in a polystyrene box.


On both lit­eral and phys­i­cal terms they were warmly wel­comed by Priscilla, who has spent the last 10 days slow cook­ing them. She re­mains in the big chicken run, where she seems happy, but next week I’ll trans­fer her and the eggs to our hen birthing box, so that if there are hatch­lings they can en­ter the world in splen­did iso­la­tion.

Priscilla has been stoic in the face of twice daily re­movals from the nest to per­suade her to eat and drink. She curses in flu­ent chicken but doesn’t strug­gle, then in­gests, drinks and of­ten lum­bers up the gar­den, shriek­ing and tak­ing gi­ant steps. Af­ter that she will spend some R&R time peck­ing and scratch­ing about be­fore re­turn­ing to the hot fug of the nest box.

We like big, placid, heavy breed chick­ens, and that, hope­fully, is what we’ll get, but it’s quite fun not know­ing how they’ll turn out, although sod’s law dic­tates that we’ll be sad­dled with a bunch of cross­bred, cross cock­erels that will be hell to re-home.

Still, our main flock, whit­tled down to an age­ing, if con­tented fe­male trio, needs new blood, and this should pro­vide it.

For Priscilla, who wasn’t very well a cou­ple of months back, it’s also likely to be her fi­nal op­por­tu­nity to be a par­ent, some­thing she’s done twice be­fore with great suc­cess, most re­cently with a clutch of duck­lings.

We’re hop­ing what could be a last chap­ter for Priscilla could be a new chap­ter for our flock.

know­ing fun not out It’s quite they’ll turn how

Martin Gur­don

TOP: The in­domitable Priscilla has gone broody af­ter a cou­ple years off ABOVE: Our eggs ar­rived care­fully pack­aged in a polystyrene box

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