We spent a long weekend in Ireland visiting the ever tolerant husbands family and only returned yesterday. A lovely time was had by all, butIi must confess to firing off the odd sneaky text to my chicken sitting friend. Leaving the girls for more than a night makes me extremely anxious. Not because I think they miss me (Ha!), but because they are so incredibly spoiled. My ladies are used to getting up at first light, enjoying a leisurely breakfast and then being given free reign over the grounds. When I travel, the girls are confined to the Convent and run permanently for their own safety. They do not take kindly to this revoking of their free ranging rights.
My similairly chicken obsessed friend was looking after them, so I knew that they were in safe hands. We departed early on Thursday morning, but I still managed to let the girls have an hour pootling about the garden. Using corn as a lure, I secured them back in to the run just before we left. They realised their mistake just as the bolt shot home, and much offended chuntering ensued. I felt six beady eyes boring in to my back as I returned to the house.
The following morning, my chicken sitter texted to tell me that the girls were being rather, erm, raucous. She could hear them squawking before she reached the end of the road. Oh dear. Still, she collected four eggs from the nest box, so they weren't that unhappy.
The following day, I found a missed call message on my phone. In a panic, I called my friend, imagining all kinds of fox related horrors. Thankfully, she was just concerned that one of the silkies wouldn't leave the nest box and was growling ( Said friend has hybrids, so has no current experience of the hormonal psychosis that is a broody hen. Margot was happy to educate her). With relief, I told her not to worry, and to just mind her fingers when she rummaged under the daft bird for eggs.
Yesterday, we arrived home at three thirty in the afternoon. I immediately went out to see my girls, and they excitedly clamoured at the run door. I smiled to myself, thinking that they were delighted to see me, and cooed at them as I released them from their prison.
As a homogeneous, feathery mass, they bowled past me and leapt in to the dustbath. Hens were crammed in every which way, and a confusing jumble of beaks, feet and feathers was all that I could make out as the dirt started flying. I allowed myself a wry smile as I unlocked the garage and watched the chooklets emerge, blinking, in to the sunlight.
It must be terrible when the staff take a holiday.