At the weekend, my youngest turned 7. We spent the day at a park, where the children ate ice creams, paddled in the pool, went rowing on the lake and fell face first through the spiderweb climbing frame. A fairly normal family day out, then. The youngest had a lovely time, and after a pub dinner, we returned home, weary and full of cake.
The hens had been in all day, and burst through the run door in a mass of feathers and squawks as soon as allowed they're freedom. We sat in the garden, sipping wine and nattering, while the children played in the paddling pool and the girls dust bathed under the shrubs. Blissful.
The silkies are still broody, so after a bit I turfed them out of the nest box they had both wedged themselves in to. A broody hen takes a few moments to come out of her trance, so initially they sat placidly on the ground. Suddenly coming around, they got up and decided to chase the chooklets about the garden. Celia and Purdy hot footed it around the perimeter of the garden with the psychotic silkie sisters hot on their tail. Celia dodged left behind the magnolia tree and shook them off. Both furry banshees homed in on Purdy. Making a schoolboy error, Purdy went right, and ended up at the paddling pool. With barely a pause, she flew up and over the side. Uh oh.
I expected there to be much panicked splashing and bokking, but silence reigned. Tentatively, I approached. I found Purdy, wings spread, bobbing about on the water looking rather bewildered. I have often wondered whether hens can swim, and now it seems that they can't, but can float. She looked up at me with a 'What the..?!' expression, and attempted to walk through the water. This sent her slowly rotating, and she muttered with alarm.
Kicking off my sandals, I waded in and scooped the soggy hen up. She gripped my fingers with her claws, obviously delighted to feel something solid under her feet. Once placed back on terra firma, she shook herself and lifted each foot in turn and peered at it, as if checking that they were still there. Flexing each leg, she took an uncertain step. Realising that this particular surface would allow her to move at will, she trotted off to tell the others about her soggy knickers.
My chicken owning friend is off on holiday for a week tomorrow, so I shall be hen sitting. Her girls are hybrid warrens, and much bigger and more dinosaur like than my balls of fluff. As she talked me through their routine, I could feel three sets of beady eyes on me, weighing me up. One of her girls is an escape artist extraodinaire, and while I was there she scaled the coop and made a (failed) bid for freedom over the eight foot high run.
I predict a riot.