Jul 182011
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When I saw Sumo sitting down in the roost area this morning, I feared the worst. Having nursed my elderly ex-batt through a mystery illness, only to see her recover magnificently to the point of skipping round the garden in recent days, the last thing I wanted was to discover that her recovery had been short-lived.

Minty (aka Araminta) was simultaneously busy in the nestbox, and her loud and hiccupy clucks were resounding urgently around the peaceful rain-slicked garden. So loudly that I feared death by falcon/fox/drowning/rabid dog or other assassin lurking in the bushes.

I was able to peer through the ventilation hole at either end of their Ark, like a child squinting through a pirate’s telescope, so that from one end, Minty appeared in her nestbox, whilst from the other, the reclining Sumo in the roost area came into view.

Now I never like to disturb the girlies whist laying – what a breach of privacy that must seem – so I went indoors, reminding myself to check later. Soon enough, both hens were down and outside again. Sumo seemed quite normal, and not at death’s door after all, whilst Minty had, thankfully, stopped hiccupping.

A quick check in the roost area also revealed an egg, yes indeed, AN EGG- from Sumo! This week has been a blur (for other human, not hen, reasons) so I hadn’t really spotted that another identical, brown and very speckledy egg was also smugly perched in our Eggskelter in the utility room. So it seems that Sumo was not gasping her last at all, but diligently “doing her duty”.

One of the reasons I was unsure whether Sumo was dying or laying arises from the way she often lays her eggs in stoical silence. But bear in mind her battery farm roots- maybe when you are in a hot, dank and deafening shed, trying to cluck to announce your own egg seems rather pointless. No creature will hear your particular joyful cluck above the 360 degrees of crashing noise, and none could decipher your message anyway – try to isolate and listen to a single morse code message when 10,000 others are also tapping out fast and furiously!

Sumo therefore gets on without fuss or commotion, whilst the Minty’s and the Lily’s of this world nearly go hoarse from their post-partum broadcasts! Watch out all you low-flying RAF airmen, that interference on your radio frequency isn’t caused by a local radio ham, but by a vocal laid-io hen!

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