Friday, 6 March 2015

I don't make this stuff up!

Today I saw something happen that I know happens every day but which I have never actually seen happen. I saw an egg being laid. I don't mean that I saw a chicken on the nest and then saw an egg emerge from beneath her feathered bottom as she rose and strutted off. I mean that I saw an egg emerge from the chicken's egg producing hole (more properly known as her vent, and the only hole she has, so yes, that means she poops out the same one). Anyway, the whole episode happened like this...

As you'll know from reading "Bob-bob in the House", Cochen has been having foot issues. Since she's been back free ranging we've been keeping an eye on her. So today, when I saw her all alone in an awkward looking stance in the middle of the yard I went across to ask her if she was okay. Not receiving a satisfactory answer, I squatted down to her level to ask her again. Still no satisfactory answer, so I got down on elbows and knees to inspect her feet, legs, eyes, breathing. Nothing obviously out of the ordinary for a chicken with a dodgy foot, so I shuffled forward for a closer look. Her stance was decidedly odd, and the very fact that my by now very close, eye to eye proximity did not cause her to flinch or move away was even more odd. Then I noticed a slight pulsating motion towards the rear end (hers not mine), I shifted my prone position from eye to eye to eye to vent to discover said vent was protruding - like a pouty pair of puckered lips. Sorry, that really is the best description. This being late afternoon, some seven hours past normal egg laying time, I concluded that maybe she was simply having a really big poo. Having no desire to witness this, I was about to get back on my feet when something quite different began to emerge. Bloody hell, out it came, a foot from my nose, slowly at first and then landing on the gravel with a plop, a perfectly shaped, glistening, soft-shelled egg. Translucent at first, but quickly becoming opaque. Being overcome with the wonder of it all I failed to notice that I hadn't been the only one to witness this event. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the rest of the flock rushing over. There was no mistaking their intent and with seconds to spare I cupped my hands over the egg. So there I was on elbows and knees in the gravel, protecting a freshly laid softie, suffering the persistent, insistent pecks to hands, arms and head of four greedy chickens with a thirst for yolk. Thankfully, after a few minutes of this assault, and mercifully before either of the decorators up on the scaffolding painting the house saw me, the chickens lost interest in futile pecking and wandered off. By now the soft shell was sufficiently dry for me to lift it, ever so gently, from the ground. Alas I didn't get far before Teri bounded over, knocked it from my hand and swallowed it whole. Just another stitch in the rich tapestry of smallholding life.