“Golly,” I tell Short Tony. “This is exciting.”

“There are two of them,” he explains. “Arrived yesterday. They seem OK. They’re black.”

“Fair enough.”

“Unfortunately one other fell out of the chicken coop, and a fourth didn’t make it through the night.”

“Do you think the chicken will notice that they are black and she is speckledy?”

“At least they are definitely chickens.”

This is a positive. Having had an annoyingly broody hen for several weeks, we had come up with a bright idea and had sourced some fertile eggs to put under her. Despite these eggs not being anything like this chicken’s own eggs, and the chicks clearly being of an utterly different breed and origin, the process seems to have been a great success. Truly, I am just like Prof. Robert Winston, but for chickens.

“I have set up a chicken intensive care unit in my living room,” says Short Tony, leading me to his Cottage.

The chicken intensive care unit turns out to be Short Tony’s dogg’s cage, with the Cottage’s central heating turned on and an electric radiator placed alongside. It is the hottest day of the year, and it is a little warm indoors. Short Tony’s family lie slumped in armchairs; his dogg lopes forlornly on the floor. “There!” says Short Tony, wiping his brow.

I gaze at the chicks. They appear happy enough, in my expert Prof. Robert Winston for Chickens opinion. The same cannot be said for Short Tony’s family, who are now vomiting and hallucinating from heat exhaustion.

“You can’t carry on like this,” I tell them, an idea for a more sustainable solution forming in my mind. “I’ll sort something out.”

An hour or so later, I reappear at Short Tony’s.

“I’ve bought you some ice cream,” I announce.

The chicks and their surrogate mother peck away happily. We watch them for a short while, but conditions in the room are uncomfortable and I take my leave, promising to return tomorrow. It is a wonderful thing to have new arrivals. I can see this inspiring me for the summer.

11 thoughts on “New arrivals in the Village!!!

  1. ganching says:

    First, first, firsty…. is what Short Tony’s family must have been.

  2. spazmo says:

    Jeez, it’s been a month! Where’s OUR ice cream?

  3. JonnyB says:

    Look for goodness sake I am all but a new father!!! (to chickens).

  4. tillylil says:

    Have you been incubating the chicken eggs yourself for the last month?

  5. Be nice and cut Jonny some slack for focusing on the chickens for the last month, guys. This is a tale of poor chicken waifs redeemed, and all tales of adoption tug at Jonny’s heartstrings, what with him having been adopted himself. At least that’s what his parents tell everyone, with that strange little nervous laugh of theirs…

  6. Leilani Lee says:

    Unless there is some compelling reason why they are in the house, Short Tony can kick the hen and the chicks out. They don’t need to be in the hot house, she will keep the babies warm! Trust me, I know about these things. Oh yeah, husband has ordered the print version of your book for me for an anniversary present.

  7. Z says:

    Leilani Lee is right, the only time when we gave a mother hen and chicks extra cosseting was when some eggs hatched in November, and we just put them in the unheated greenhouse. Chicks in an incubator is for when there is no mother. A coop on the lawn is fine. Don’t let them loose though, a magpie or hawkish sort of bird will get them.

  8. JonnyB says:

    Thank you Leilani and Z for your advice. The problem is that I have lost ‘chicken keeping for complete idiots’ by Katie Thear, chicken book expert. And I am a bit lost without it.

    Now that the weather has turned colder I have told Short Tony that he can put them outside and turn the heating off.

  9. ajb1605 says:

    You’d better make sure there are no mirrors in the chicken coop, in case she looks at her reflection, then her chicks, and puts two and two together!!

    In fact, if you’ve got any mirrors yourself, it might be an idea to take them down now – and don’t look into them before you do – trust me.

  10. Hamish says:

    It was a similar story in this musical I saw the other day. Blood Brothers. They ended up shooting each other, (not to give it away at all). I hope that you won’t come home one day to find the chickens targetting each other with 9mm pistols.

  11. guyana gyal says:

    A *new* father? This is your second time around.

    Why didn’t Short Tony just put a light bulb or two in the chicken coop, then his family could sit there comfortably reading while you feed them ice-cream?

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