A few weekends ago, we had the pleasure of two German boys breaking down in our driveway. They hadn’t been in the country long and were driving North when they decided to drive up our “no exit” road to find a place to put up their tent for the night. Just outside our driveway, their car broke down.
What do you do with two young German tourists and a broken down car in your driveway? Well you think about what you would like someone to do for your boys if they were in a similar situation in another country. You invite them to stay as long as it takes and you arrange for a farmer/neighbour/friend who is good at fixing things, to come and look at the car. It took a couple of days but they were soon on their way North again.
This weekend Haitch and I were booked to go away for another long weekend. The tickets were booked long before Hannah Hen became broody. I was pretty sure that I had timed the eggs to hatch after we got back from Adelaide but being a first time chicken mother (me that is) I was a bit worried that Hannah Hen may have had enough and abandon her eggs at the last minute. So the German boys agreed to come back to chicken sit while we were away.
They must have thought I was the ultimate mad chicken lady. There were enough instructions to confuse the most avid chicken sitter, e.g. letting Hilda and Helen out each morning early, closing them up at night, where to refill the purple treat tin, watch out for Helen because she pecks at Hilda, what kitchen scraps to feed them and where to store the container, etc, etc. Haitch had warned me not to go overboard with instructions but I believe I was restrained and kept them to a minimum.
But the most important instruction of all, was to take care of Hannah Hen, mum-to-be. All they needed to do was to make sure that she didn’t abandon the nest. I explained that she comes off every second day or so for about 3 minutes to drink and eat and then she runs back onto her nest. I said I had read that eggs can be cold for up to 12 hours and if they can be put under an incubator within this time, they have a chance of survival.
So do I have an incubator? No. So what were they to do if Hannah Hen abandoned the nest? The German boys were to phone daughter , Aitch (they hadn’t met each other but I was sure none of them minded. This was a matter of chicken life and death). Aitch was then to go online to the Trademe site (New Zealand’s version of Ebay), she was to buy the incubator that we had agreed previously, she was to pay for it and drive to the buyer to pick it up. She was to drive it to my place and she and the German boys were to set it up and put the eggs in, all within 12 hours (and she works full time!). If it didn’t work it wasn’t their fault but I wanted to try. Everyone (I think) was happy with the plan. Haitch thought I was silly but it doesn’t matter.
So last night we returned from our four days away. Hilda and Helen Hen were safely tucked up in their coop by the time we got home. And what about Hannah Hen? Had the incubator plan been put into action? Had she been a bad mother and abandoned her eggs? No, she is a very good mother and is still sitting tight. The boys said that she had not been off those eggs since I left until today when they noticed her food had been touched.
Thank you to the wonderful German boys and their chicken sitter skills.
And how long does Hannah Hen have to sit on those eggs for? They should start hatching tomorrow or the next day. I have arranged to work from home both days so I can keep an eye on proceedings.