I think yesterday will go down in farm history, in fact I’m tempted to have a plaque engraved and attach it to the wall of hen hospital stating:
‘On this day, 7th August 2013, Baby (age unknown, but definitely older than 12.5 weeks) laid her very first egg’.
Now, I understand if you’re thinking that surely this must be quite a normal occurrence, what with hens being designed to lay eggs and all, but this is BABY we’re talking about. Y’know, Baby the poorly hen? The one that was given to us for free by the hen breeder because she was so weak, deformed and pathetic; an apparent narcoleptic who was being bullied by all the other hens?
This is what she looked like when we first got her back in May:
Yes, she was a pale looking pompom of a thing with no neck to speak of, which of course meant that we instantly fell in love with her. She hung around our front door, sleeping on the doorstep and wouldn’t eat anything we offered her except cucumber, which she nibbled minute portions of. She was separated from the other hens to stop her from being pecked and denied access to food and we gave her lots of love. We honestly didn’t think she’d last the week, but yet she soldiered on.
Eventually, we collared the vet when he came to visit one of the farm horses, and got him to take a look at her. He instantly diagnosed her with an infection, apparently quite common in hens. A week of antibiotics later and she looked more like this:
Still a bit odd looking, but certainly more hen-like. Her appetite improved dramatically too – cucumber remained her favourite though. We began to secretly wonder if she might lay us an egg one day…
The arrival of Norma to hen hospital (another freebie – this time because she had a funny eye, which is now completely healed) was what really turned things around; Baby loved her new friend so much – they’d sleep snuggled together, share cucumber with each other, take dust baths together and wander round the farm side by side. Norma taught Baby all about how to be a ‘normal’ hen – all of a sudden she had a neck out of nowhere, a heap of energy (which she used to start jumping up on computer screens, dishwashers, shoulders – anywhere she could perch really) and a face that was getting pinker in colour by the day.
Despite her improvement, we were still absolutely ecstatic to head down to their little hen shed yesterday to find a corker of an egg laying on the floor under her perch. It’s huge! Normally, hens take a while to perfect egg making – they lay teeny-weeny ones, soft shelled ones or oddly shaped ones – but not Baby! She’d popped out an egg of absolute perfection, like she’d been making them for years!
As if that wasn’t good enough, this morning there was another one waiting in exactly the same spot, just as perfect and just as big! She’s a pro! Now we just need her to learn about using the nesting box instead of the floor, but that’s a minor detail…
Only thing left to decide is how best to cook them to do them justice??
Man I love these hens.