We’ve been chicken sitting over the bank holiday weekend. One of Middle Mudlets’ friends, has recently bought himself three chickens. He had saved his pocket money for months and months until he had enough to buy a little chicken coop with enclosed run area and three chickens. Once the coop was in situ, mum and dad realised that it wasn’t going to be a big enough outdoor space for three birds and so they built an enclosure around the hen house and now the three chickens spend their days happily pecking about in the dirt.
It’s a huge responsibility being trusted to look after a friends chickens and so we popped along to meet them a few days before chicken sitting duties were due to commence. Both girls took to them like … well, errrrr …… ducks to water, catching and handling the birds with confidence and were exited about looking after them for the three days that the friend and his family were away. In return for looking after them, we were to collect and keep any eggs that they may lay.
Saturday was an easy day, as all we had to do was shut them up for the night and so we wondered over at around 8pm and were met by the three happy and very friendly birds, following us up and down the length of their run. We had been advised that the only way we would be able to get into the run without having the three birds crowding the doorway, was to scatter some food at the other end of the run which we did. All the chickens ran to the food and we were able to slip into the run without incident. That day we found two eggs and then the girls began the job of shutting up the main hen house area, so that the birds would be confined to their nest area for the night and then catching the birds which were popped into the nest area through the open roof. Once all the birds were caught, the roof was shut and we left, securely locking the run behind us. These birds are very well protected from the local fox population.
Once home (and after each subsequent visit) I sent a text to the friends mum, to reassure the little boy that his girls were fine which, it turned out, was a good thing to do because he had been worrying about them.
Sunday morning dawned and it was raining! Torrential, bone soaking rain at that but, taking their responsibilities seriously, even before their own breakfast the Mudelts’ and I donned our coats and boots and headed off to release and feed the chickens. It was quite nerve wracking walking around to the back garden because no matter how secure you think your hen house is, there is always the possibility that some cunning fox has managed to find its’ way in. All was well however, and the complaints of the captive birds could be heard, from inside the nest box, as we approached. The first thing I realised as I looked into the pen, was that the seed feeder had become clogged with seed that had swollen due to the rain but there wasn’t much we could do about that and so we released the birds from their house and then scattered fresh seed under the house and the blue table (seen in the pictures) to help prevent it becoming water logged. We watched the chickens scratching about for a few minutes before the continued rain fall drove us back home.
The rain eased off towards mid afternoon and so we popped back for a quick check on them and to give them more food. This time we took a treat in the form of sultanas which were gratefully received by the chickens, with one of the younger birds going as far as to take individual sultanas from Little Mudlets’ fingers. There was one egg waiting for us that time.
Around about the time we were due to go lock the birds back up for the night, a thunder storm hit and so I found myself going to do the job on my own, as Middle Mudlets’ hyperacusis makes thunder storms unbearable for her and, anyway, it would be much quicker if I did it myself this time.
Monday morning was bright and sunny and once again we set off for the chickens before breakfast. We spent a little more time with them that morning, as this was likely to be the last time for a week or so that we would be able to see them, as the friend was due back that afternoon. The friend and his mum turned up on the door step mid-afternoon, to say thank you and with the days egg which they gave to us. We’re due to look after the chickens again at the end of the month and the girls are really looking forward to it, as they have really enjoyed spending time with them and interacting with them.