My mother has caught the bug.
Well, she caught it last year and now it’s getting pretty bad… Chickens. To be honest it hasn’t just stopped with the chickens; she now owns quails too. They eat eggs like I eat Smarties.
Last spring she got herself (and my long-suffering father who on the sly really enjoys the birds) four baby chickens. They were about 6 weeks old if I remember correctly. They are all Bantams, the easier to house and pick up if needed; one grey Dorking, one teeny little black thing that looked like a starling, one ugly baldy headed little Rhode Island Red and one ginger Dorking. Strange looking without their full head of feathers but sweet enough.
Unfortunately they lost Clarisse (the Starling looking one) to the dog’s big clumsy foot when she was startled by a loud noise and managed to escape. Kimmy the Wiemeraner was just trying to stop the chick and misplaced her foot, hitting the little bird. She didn’t know what she’d done wrong the poor dog, Mum and Dad were so upset.
So, they went back to the place they got the originals from and picked up another RIR Bantam. They were then all named- Dora (the bigger grey Dorking) Cora (the smaller ginger one) Rita (one of the Rhodies, now going by Reets) and Skeeta (the other, now going by Skeets) They were happy for a full summer and autumn and winter not laying a thing due to seasonal weather and temperatures and started laying this spring.
Cora got sick, the poor little thing got quiet and listless and in a couple of days passed away. We are unsure as to what definitely saw her off but it could have been a combination of being egg-bound, the warm week my parents had enjoyed in the garden followed immediately by frost and bitter winds the next, and the fact she didn’t want to eat. So RIP Cora. She was my favourite.
By spring my parents didn’t want to introduce any other girls to the trio so left it there.
Only that wasn’t where they left it. My Mum had been secretly researching another type of wee fowl all through the winter in preparation of the spring when she would be able to bring home some teensy baby quails!
Oh yes. Quails. A-bloody-DORABLE. My folks went to pick up the babies April-ish time and had a tank waiting at home to put them in as they were still too young to be out in the terrible weather, 4 weeks old if I remember rightly. She only picked six at first and found them to be so sweet and charming that after the little birds were big enough to go outside in their own coop, she and my Dad went out and bought another twelve. It sounds a lot but these quails are only just comparable to slightly overweight (okay I’ll be honest, obese) sparrows and take up very little space individually, my parents also giving them the most massive coop and run I think I’ve ever seen in a domestic space.
She has since swapped out a male from one batch of quail chicks and a hen from the other with a friend of my Dad’s who has a menagerie of her own and who handed over two sisters; Cagney & Lacey. Two pure white Bantam Silkies. The (bless them) ugliest two chooks I’ve seen but with the folks love, attention and albeit higher quality and quantity of food and treats, the two of them are now proud as punch to be squarking (Lacey I think is the culprit here) around their new coop. Oh yes, they have their own little semi-detached in my parents rather-too-large garden.
And now, these.
Both Millefleur and Lavender Bantam Pekins. Pic above is them at 2 days old I think… They came to my mother from a school project for the wee ones. The teacher wanted her reception class to see where baby chickens come from. The miracle of life and all that.
I won’t go into too much detail but I do think if my Mother hadn’t have picked and paid for the fertilised eggs and been there to supervise said reception teacher, all of these adorable babies wouldn’t be here. The teacher only managed to kill one in her ignorance and lack of research and planning. The silly woman had the humidity too low in the incubator and then went and put a whole tub of dry layers pellets inside too. Is my poor mother the only one with enough brain cells to realise the pellets will soak up any moisture in the air, therefore dropping the humidity and temperature in the incubator, therefore making any hatching impossible for baby birds as the drier the shell the more difficult and dangerous hatching is?! That one poor baby got it’s tiny head out and the teacher seeing this, decided to put food in for them and the problem as previously mentioned occurred, cementing the half hatched baby in it’s own shell to struggle and suffocate. My poor Mum was devastated. As this all happened at school, in a class room, there was only so much influence she could have and the teachers didn’t head her advice and ended up killing the baby chicken.
It scares me to think people that ignorant teach the next generation. Ignorance is just as dangerous as fear but… That is for another time.
And you can see the difference here in their tiny little flight feathers. SWEET! Happily, the teacher in the story became bored after the rest of the chicks hatched (minus three that didn’t pip also due to the extremely low and insufficient humidity the teacher set and the one that passed) and they are now happy and racing around their new home, eating, drinking and playing hopscotch with all their brothers and sisters. This morning my Dad called them my Mum’s therapy; I believe he’s right.
So, my parents are addicts. Bird addicts.
I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to… 😉