ONE sole gosling has hatched beneath two hens that have been sitting on eight goose eggs for the past month. It is likely to be very spoilt with two hens fussing over it if mum number two is allowed anywhere near it. I, however, have promised faithfully not to set anymore eggs under broody hens as we are away off and on over the next couple of months.

Meanwhile this latest gosling, once a bit bigger, will join our other six. Five hulking brutes now, one teenager (if you count gosling age in weeks) and this new baby. The birth in this case has been overseen by my friend who is house sitting. He has become quite maternal over this hatching. Plus, fast becoming egg bound too. Fourteen eggs a day is a lot to get through. Luckily friends are calling to check both that he is alright and to relieve him of any eggs he can’t cope with.

Elsewhere, news on the egg hatching front of another friend has been equally variable. Despite having many thousands of hens, some laying eggs for commercial culinary use and others bought in as day olds to fatten, they have no hens in their own. This is because of disease restrictions necessary where commercial birds are kept.

So off the internet, two dozen eggs have been bought to be hatched out away from the units and kept at one of their son’s houses off the farm. As my friend Rosie wants something rather special, a dozen of the eggs were from Barnvelder chickens and the other 12 were from silver Sebright hens. Both very showy, rare breed, chickens.

And now we know why they are rare breed. Only one of each breed has hatched. And two days after hatching, the Barnvelder chick expired. Leaving one lonely, albeit very pretty, Sebright chick.

As a start of my friend’s rare breed breeding bonanza and business, this does not bode well. And the chick may well be a cockerel, and not lay any eggs at all. But my friend’s son has a tender heart. Distressed that the chick might be lonely, he has rigged up a mirror. The chick cuddles up to its image cheeping away, apparently deceived into thinking it has at least one other companion in life. We have suggested he links his mobile to a microphone and pipes in cheeps and clucks. Perhaps a fluffy chick toy. Or somewhere I have a tea cosy in the shape of a hen under which the chick could nestle. Any suggestions welcome.