(We went for a ramble around the lake at Mervant this morning)
It’s Sunday afternoon, I’ve just brought the hens their afternoon treat – porridge. They love it! Being from France they possibly haven’t tasted it (you can only buy it here in the English section at the supermarket) but they get very excited when they realise that’s what I’ve brought. Their excitement is followed by very noisy pecking in the feeding dish. This weekend they’ve had a lot of excitement food-wise.
(Some swallows gathering on the wire outside our house)
It rained heavily all day yesterday (Saturday) which was fine as I had planned a day of answering long unanswered emails, so I sat most of the day on the sofa in front of the windows to the garden. After a while I kinda forgot where I was. You miss a lot of reality when you’re on the computer. So it was lunchtime before I realised the hens were probably drenched, I went to investigate. I had let them out of the house earlier in the morning when the rain was only starting and was surprised that they seemed very eager to be outside.
(Can you see the rain?)
Now when I reached their enclosure I couldn’t believe the state of them. They were indeed drenched, they looked like they’d been for a swim, feathers plastered against their heads, beaks to the ground. I remember the bird ‘flu crisis we had in Ireland a few years ago, so I knew birds could get the ‘flu, is this how it started?
(The poor chicken… notice the muddy beak?)
I went straight back to the house (the one we’re in not the hens) and had Denis check if his brother Liam (he and Kate live with the hens I was hen-sitting last summer) was online to get advice. He wasn’t. So instead we searched for a hen forum (where hen owners gather on the internet to chat… really…)
We found one in America. There was lots of chat about hens in the rain but the main message – they’re fine. They love the rain. Why? Because it provides the other thing they love – worms. It has been a very dry summer here in the Vendee and so the ground is very hard, making it difficult for worms to get to the surface or hens to get through to them. Not yesterday. Soft earth. Lots of worm potential. Happy hens.
So how do birds get the ‘flu? Mairead.