Stopped at Zandspruit. Usual chicken seller was there. Very happy to see that chickens had water this time, and he was proud to show me. We have had numerous arguments about him not supplying water to chicks. It seems something has changed through our conversations. Got our 4 chickens who were dirty, smelly and very frightened –they reminded me of a phrase coined by Patricia Glyn, ‘diarrhoea smudged bodies’. I stayed in my car at Zandspruit and observed people coming to buy their weekends meat. I focused on the 4 chickens I did have in my care now, and tried to detach from the 4 I saw bound and carried away, held roughly by their wings, desperately squawking. Their backyard slaughter waiting for them. Capturing these images through the lens of my camera helps me detach.
When I get the girls to Magaliesburg, we release them into our temporary chicken hoek, were they will spend the next few days, getting used to the world around them. De stressing, eating, sleeping, drinking and recovering. On opening the box, we discover one of these terrified hens has managed to lay an egg. I feel as though she has scored one against the world already – what an injustice if she had laid it an hour before, this great gift her body has to offer, and had been slaughtered later that night.
The girls eat little and do not recognise the water I am giving them. Before bed time, my husband Nick, and I make a call to bring them into the kitchen and crop feed them (an invasive process of passing a tube down the throat into the crop – a storage facility for food – and putting food down the tube via syringe). I feed them a watery solution of pronutro and warm water. Their crops are hardly bulging, but I feel they have had some food and hydration to give them a chance of good sleep. The thought of going to bed on an empty tummy, does not fly with me! We put them to bed. Although they have a dog kennel filled with straw, I cover the straw with a large fluffy blanket. These girls are weak, and it is a particularly cold and wet night. They are worn down by this stage and make little attempt to fight with us.
Weather cold and wet.
Yay, all 4 girls alive. They have made it through their first night. Two, start eating during the morning on their own. The other 2 get it by lunchtime. I am aware that they are not drinking. Often the battery hens do not recognise water in the new and different bowl and setting you are offering it to them in. If one takes the bold step of trying, I know the rest will follow.
My friend Kathy and I observe the hens. They are still not drinking. I identify the bravest hen. She allows me to come within half a metre of her. I wiggle my finger in the bowl, and make little splashes. She watches with interest, I move away from the bowl, and she slowly moves towards it. Bingo, she drinks! We quietly clap with excitement. The other two hens are drinking within half an hour. By evening the last hen is also drinking.
During the day I sms Jaqui (mom to two of the new rescues). I tell her we have her hens, and that although frightened, weak, and scraggly – very gorgeous. I get this great sms back from her
‘Such excitement at home for the new arrivals. Kids thinking of names. Hopefully we have more appropriate names soon. The hens have been thru enough in this life already. They certainly won’t want to spend the rest of it named ‘smelly socks’. Thanks again for what you have done for both us and especially the hens. Lots of love waiting here for them. J’
Again, feel so safe that these hens will have an amazing life.
Obligatory nail clip in the afternoon. Their nails are long from not being able to walk around and scratch in the dirt. They are walking easier post pedicure.
Weather cold and wet.
See comments posted for this post by Celeste, mom to other two rescues from weekend. Another amazing chicken lover!