“Golly,” I tell Short Tony. “This is exciting.”
“There are two of them,” he explains. “Arrived yesterday. They seem OK. They’re black.”
“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.