On Monday, the first bantam chick of the year hatched overnight. The day after, there was another. Then Madam Min grew bolshie and decided she’d had enough, so she booted the rest of the eggs out from under her and refused to sit on them any longer.
I was not pleased. Another day or two, and I might have had six chicks. But broody hens won’t be told…. they change character completely once they start sitting. Madam Min is normally friendly and placid, but once she decided it was time to rear a brood, she growled and pecked at anyone who came near. For twenty-one long days, she clamped herself down in a kind of trance. A hen’s metabolism changes too: they barely eat or drink, and store up all their waste so they only need to do one huge dropping a day. But I suppose it is worth it. It certainly is for me:
The rest of the flock were out enjoying the sunshine. I only let them out if I’m working nearby, because fox attack in broad daylight is now distressingly common. In fact, for that reason, there’s been something of a change of cast since my last post about bantams, and a lot of my old friends ended up feeding fox cubs. It’s a constant battle…
Madam Min is married to Chairman Mao, who is Pekinese, and almost triangular:
He looks very splendid, but it’s all feather and no stuffing – inside, he’s not much bigger than a pigeon, as I keep telling him when he muscles around and crows at 4am. Plus, he’s a coward and runs away if my wellie boot shows any sign of fighting back when he attacks it.
Newly mown grass is an all-you-can-eat buffet for bantams. They follow the mower the way seagulls follow the plough. Once Madam Min’s maternity leave is over, she’ll be let out to join the rest.