Domestic bliss – Effie, Jo’s most precious and fragile girl, has finally found total happiness in being the perfect mother hen

What happens when you put an ex-battery hen, who has supposedly had all maternal instincts bred out of her, with three motherless chicks born in an incubator?

Something quite miraculous!

Free ranging together in their own special garden, Effie and her bantam chicks had bonded very well and formed a happy little quartet. They had dustbaths together, foraged together, got up to mischief together and the babies even preened the tail feathers that Effie’s poor neck would not let her reach.

However, with her turbulent history and emotional problems, I was never certain that Effie could be completely trusted with them and consequently kept the bantams in a separate coop at night. But my special girl was about to surprise me yet again.

After much deliberation, we finally decided to bite the bullet and put the babies in with Effie at night. Early to bed, the babies were already settling down in their new home when Effie also

decided it was time for her to go to sleep. She was quite alarmed by the cheeps coming from inside her coop and at first was too scared to venture in and see the source of the noise.

However, brave as always, she popped her head in the coop and found her three babies there, waiting for her.

Since that first night something magical has happened to my Effie – I have never seen her so happy.

Now, after happily spending each day with her three little shadows, every evening she will go into the coop and stand with her leg cocked in a most unladylike fashion. All three babies will then scurry into the coop, position themselves under her and snuggle into her feathers. Effie spreads her wings over them – a picture of contentment and serenity, with three fluffy bottoms poking out from under her feathers.

Peering into the coop as I close their pophole each night, I feel privileged to witness such domestic bliss.

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