All was quiet, tranquil and calm. I reached in and very gently picked up the hen. She had been sitting on eggs in the main chicken house and very cleverly hatched five chicks. Now she was off the nest and unsure where to settle had gathered her babies under her and plonked herself down in the doorway, which was hardly the safest place.
So I needed to move her. So I picked her up.
She screeched. She screeched and screeched and screeched and flapped her wings and went into complete chicken hysterical meltdown. Sometimes language is no barrier. It wasn’t hard to work out what she was screeching. She was calling for help. She was calling for lots of help.
She was calling for the police. She was calling for the army. She was calling for the air force, the navy, the cavalry and the gods of war. She was calling for a swat team and helicopters and napalm. She was calling for Heaven to rain down thunderbolts and Hell to rise up. She was, it’s fair to say, emotional.
The cockerel was the first to respond to his damsel in distress. He charged at me talons flying. I ducked and shouted at him. Then the goat joined in and attempting to protect me started trying to head-but the cockerel.
My dog was running round in circles barking, the hen screeching, the cockerel attacking me and at the same time fending off the goat, and the goat trying to head-but the cockerel.
Then the geese joined in. Geese love any excuse for a scrap. Good gander that he is, he stood to one side while his wife did the goose equivalent of taking off her stilettos and shouldering in, wings back, chest out, mouth open and tongue going nineteen to the dozen.
The hen was screeching, the dog barking, the cockerel attacking, the goat head-butting, the geese scrapping… and then the pigs joined in. Luckily they were in their pen to one side and couldn’t actually get over to us, but they showed their solidarity with their brothers and sisters against the evil oppressor, me, by charging up and down the fence line woofing and barking.
The crowd, any duffing of this magnitude always draws a crowd, consisted of the rest of the chickens and the ducks, who screamed and shouted and jumped up and down in excitement.
I kept hold of the hen. If I let go of her now, I’d have no chance of getting her again. I brought her up to my face to protect myself – this isn’t as cowardly as it sounds, using a female as a shield, as trust me nobody was going to mess with her, not even the geese – and stepped back.
It was carnage. Blindly I staggered through it and popped her into the broody-coop. I slammed the door. She went silent. I rushed back, scooped up the five babies and put them in with mum.
She went all mother hen and fussed over them, then settled down, quite happy, babies under her, a nice, new, safe, single-mother apartment around her, and looked out as if to say, I feel better now.
With the focus of the riot taken away, the rest of us shuffled our feet a bit then wandered off in different directions, hands in pockets, whistling. Only the goose remained, her hubby still off to one side while she screeched and strutted around the empty battlefield as though the whole thing had been orchestrated for her, and she wasn’t finished yet.
It’s true what they say, moving home is without doubt a stressful business.