Saturday was a fanrtastic day, the volunteers all pulled together and we uloaded all the hens from the crates and checked them over and trimmed claws and deloused as we were going. Sharon, Janice & I took to the tables being fed hens from the volunteers. Several volunteers sat in the sheds with the new girls after they had vbeen checked over and taught them to eat and drink (I think they did it a bit too well!, they are eating me out of house and home). From 1pm onwards the new owners arrived to collect their girls, everyone was wonderful and I know the girls will be happy and well looked after in their new homes. There was a real mix of condition among the hens some were quite featherless and some were in really good condition. One poor baby in particular was almost completely featherless and after checking and de-lousing I put a wee jumper on her and called for a volunteer to put her under their coat. Christine volunteered and thats were she stayed the rest of the day. The bonding between them was amazing and Christine just couldnt bear to leave her behind at the end of the day and took her home to an indoor run in front of the fire to keep her warm. Bit by bit people arrived to take home their girls, there was a never ending stream of cars and new owners grinning from ear to ear with pride for their new girls. Yesterday was a long day for Sam and me. All started at 5.15, feeding and cleaning out my own girls, then I headed off to Tom and Ruths( they kindly offered to drive me to the battery in their van). It was fun, to say th least getting to the farm, the roads were like ice. At one point Ruth and I had to get out and throw grit under the tyres to enable the van to get up a hill. WE made it to the farm and agreed 300 hens with the owner. The girs were thrown at us fast and thick and we lost count as to how many we got, but I just wanted to get them out. When we arrived home the volunteers helped us to unload the crates and place them at the side of the house. Then began the unloading one hen at a time and checking over. I was concious of how long some of the girls had to spend in the crates and we worked as fast as we could. Ron took photos throughout the day, and I have seen a small sample and hope to see the rest soon. Donagh videoed the day and I am really looking forward to seeing the final cut. Martin Cassidy from BBC Newsline, Rural Affairs arrived and filmed various aspects and interviwed myself and some of the helpers. We are hoping this will go out on either Monday or Tuesdays Newsline.
After most of the new owners has called and left with their new girls, I eventually got my breakfast at 5.30pm and sat down for 5 minutes. Two more owners arrived after this and we eventually locked down at 9pm. We were exhausted but content.
Sunday I had a lie in to 7am and then set about looking after my own girls before opening up the sheds and sorting the new girls out. They were a lot braver today, most ventured out in to the runs and some right out into the garden. Several of the balder ones were dressed in coats today and looked the picture of fashion! (Thanks Denise, I Love ya) Our poor EYP girl from yesterday, was struggling to stand up, so I brought her in and made her comfortable in the conservatory and stared her on Antibiotics immediately, she is in good form and what confused me more is that she laid an egg today. Talking of eggs, we were presented with over 90 eggs today, some in the nestboxes, some in the straw on the floors of the shed and quite a few in the middle of the garden! Tried to do a rough count tonight and I reckon we had saved about 320 hens. Mind you, there are about 20-30 EYP suspects in there who will stay here until I can get them checked out further, treated and signed off as clear. Its now 8.45 pm and although Im exhausted, I think this has been the most rewarding weekend of my life.
I have to say a huge thank you to my partner Sam who made this possible, if it hadnt been for him I would never have been able to do this. Also, the girls (and boys) on the poultrysite.com who raised funds and offered exceptional support to myself and the new owners this weekend. You all know who you are!!!
I have a final thank you and its to my beautiful Saffi, whom I miss every single day. If it hadnt been for her illness, I wouldnt have got my first hens in March 2011 and then in turn Nut House Hen Rescue & Re-homing would never have existed. I know she is with me every single day, I can feel her breath on my cheek in the mornings when I wake and she guides me in everything I do. Just because I can no longer see her physical form, doesnt mean shes not here. Thank you Saffi