Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I arrived back at the finca feeling pretty drained. I don't know why.

The previous trip we had gone back together en famille. There is something to be said for being driven door-to-door in a Land Rover Santana in less than three hours compared with a total trip of four and a half hours - made up of half an hour's fast walk to La Linea and two bus journeys.

However occasionally being a woman of principle, the bus service is there, it is cheap, in fact it is cheaper than one person driving up and down. So on the bus I went. Although it doesn't help when you have a sore throat as you have around four hours on buses to think of very little apart from how much your sore throat hurts - and that you can't drink too much because you are stuck on a bus without a toilet.

When we had left the finca last time, Jimena was proudly sitting on a grand total of 13 eggs. How the two chickens had managed to lay 13 eggs all in a pile without breaking any is beyond me. How she manages to sit on more than three large eggs is beyond me too, as she is a pretty small chicken. Some of the 13 were the little tiny ones that have no yolk, but we just left her sitting there contentedly.

We have tried to breed our own chickens before. I say breed, we got a cockerel and he chased the chickens around a bit and everytime one became broody she sat in the semi-det nestbox made by Partner, and the next time an egg was laid she went next-door and sat on that one instead. So we had a few failed attempts and Partner got rid of the abandoned eggs - complete with developing embryos.

Chickens come and go and so do nestboxes. He chucked the nestbox. It proved a good spot for mice to nest under. This was popular with the chickens as Jimena took great delight in catching baby mice so she was probably disappointed when Partner removed her own personal mouse-trap.

Some of the chickens have died since we got our first lot more than four years ago. But Jimena and Negrita are survivors of the very first intake. They had a long period without laying last year, so we figured Jimena would stop going broody too. The cockerel of course, is our second one, and came from Juan the Gitano (the one of the athletic sexual prowess - Juan, that is, although maybe the cockerel takes after him).

So I opened the door to the chicken run somewhat timorously, wondering whether I would see 13 abandoned eggs, or a few dead baby chickens who hadn't survived. Nothing. Just Jimena sitting on the eggs still. I was a bit disappointed, but not surprised.

And then in slow motion I watched as she fluffed her wings a bit and a little head peered out, and cheeped at me. And then another one...and another..until there were five little tiny chickens peering at me and cheeping.

I dropped the fresh food on the floor for them. It was some greens and veg trimmings that we put in to supplement their corn diet. I was so surprised I also dropped the two veggie burgers that I had put in there for my tea. In case this is of any use to anyone, I can vouch first hand that chickens love veggie burgers. The chickens definitely ate better than me that night.

Mama Jimena clucked imperiously over to look at the scran. She pecked at it with disdain and then chucked it aside and the little brood followed her across the shed. And when she thought they had adventured enough, she fluffed up her wings again and they all ran underneath to nestle down and stay warm.

Some years ago when I was reading up about chickens and the various ways of breeding and hatching chicks out, one sage author said 1) never stop your broody chickens going broody and 2) if you are lucky she will go away on her own for a while and a few weeks later return with her little brood.

It is quite salutary to think that for all our previous interference and enthusiasm to make life as easy as possible for our chickens to breed, the only successful occasion has been when we have cleared off out of the way. The arrogance of humans and our desire to interfere with the simplicity of nature takes some beating.


Kaiser Chef said...

That was an lovely post, well apart from the long bus journey, the sore throat and no toilet.

But the baby chicks, oh my!

Your last paragraph says it all.

K C and Her Sunshine Band

Cassandra said...

I am enjoying your blog, have only just set up my blog, so am able to comment instead of just looking.

Great post about the chickens.

Hope they are ok?

Flowerpot said...

Jimena looks wonderful - and I hope your sore throat is better!

dog lover said...

It is great to start spring with new life! Welcome to the world, little ones!


Dog lover

Totty Teabag said...

¡Hola! I have followed the trail from Flowerpot's Blog via Pippa's. My experience with the gallinas from next door is that they hop over into my garden, laying their daily egg in a scrape under a bush, then when they think they have a good clutch, they start sitting on it. That way all the embryos start developing at the same time. Who would have thought that clucks were that clever?