Feathered Friday: 29 Chooks and the Kindness of Strangers

I can't thank you enough for your caring thoughts and concern for all of those in our region.  In the face of such devastation here, not just in Brisbane but in the whole of south-east Queensland, there are so many tales of miracles and grace.  And spirit that will never lie down.  We're seeing the typical Aussie sense of humour, perhaps slightly dented but far from gone, in such wry touches as a page taped to a light pole in the nearby town of Ipswich, with the felt-penned message, "LOST: 3 Goldfish.  Last seen Tuesday afternoon."  

Heavy hearts can do with some light.  So today I wanted to share with you one of the flood stories with a happy ending ~ the story of some beloved chooks whose lives in no small part depended on the kindness of strangers. 

My mum's hubby's farm ~ his life's work ~ went under on Wednesday morning.  And as the floodwaters rapidly swallowed up hydroponic and working sheds and rose towards their henhouse, 29 chooks {mostly redheads with remarkably fluffy bottoms} were growing increasingly agitated.  Nowhere near as agitated as their "mum and dad".  All hands were on deck as netting was fashioned around the open sides of a stable on higher ground to arrange emergency lodgings, hastily secured with old bricks and fallen branches.  We discovered some way into proceedings that a nice young man helping out was not an in-law whose name we'd embarrassingly forgotten, but a stranger who lived up the road and around the corner who'd heard of the rising waters and came down to lend a hand.   {Needless to say, Ken been fast-tracked onto the Christmas Card list.}  

But the scary question in the midst of all this was HOW to transport a large number of hens with very ruffled feathers when they were virtually trapped by a lake of floodwater.  Behold ~ more kind strangers with a dinghy proved you don't need a white horse and armour to save maidens in peril.  With several boat trips and a motley collection of taped up cardboard boxes and makeshift crates, twenty-nine clucky young ladies were safely stowed and ferried to their sanctuary.  After inspecting each other and doing a head count, arrangements were deemed to be acceptable, and there was much relief and happy dancing {by the humans.  The chooks were too busy squabbling over meat scraps.}  Thirty-six hours and a disturbing volume of chicken poo later, complaints to the management over lack of prime real estate on the tractor and sub-standard nesting boxes were coming thick and fast.  But thankfully by then, the floodwaters subsided, the henhouse was cleaned down, and the ladies are happily nesting back in Fowl Manor.  They may never understand how much they depended on the kindness of strangers.  But for this kindness, their mum and dad are eternally grateful. And on that note ...

Happy Fine Feathered Friday to you!

Update 17th January: The RSPCA refuge at Fairfield went under water, by over 2 metres in places, and has been severely damaged.  Thankfully, all animals were safely evacuated in time.   But the shelter has had to completely cease operations until clean-up and recovery can be completed.   They are exempt from disaster relief offered to other charities assisting human needs. Please click here to donate towards their vitally important rebuilding process. Thank you.

If you would like to donate to the Flood Appeal for human kind, you can do so here.  Thank you, and bless you. 


  1. Shell, my dear, it is so good to hear from you with an uplifting story of kindness, one with a good ending. When we are far removed from a disaster such as this it is the personal stories that touch the heart.

    Love your feathered friend... may you have a weekend of recuperation and rest.


  2. Glad to hear about these kindnesses. Glad to hear the girls were ok. Hope your mum and her hubby are doing ok. It must be very stressful. Humor definitely helps.

  3. What the well dressed Aussie chick will wear. Have they been shopping in Paris?

    My stars, Shell, what at story! Thank goodness you were able to salvage something from that nightmare. Not only the chooks (never heard that word before), but a heartwarming story as well. Your optimisim never ceases to amaze me.

    Give my best to your mum and her hubs. Let's hear it for the kindness of strangers!

  4. Shell, I had looked at some of the donation sites and they seemed geared to Australia. Is this the link that will let us from over here donate online? Because I want to post it. And donate. If not, my check is ready to mail.

  5. Shell, thank you for the uplifting story, update, and wonderful illustration! Glad the girls are back in Fowl Manor. Your sense of humor is delightful :)

  6. I'm delighted by your resilient and bright spirit, Shell. Wonderful how everyone came together to save the chooks (I've never heard that word either). It's so true that grace blooms in the midst of hardship and tragedy. I hope you experience many other stories with happy endings in the days ahead.

  7. Wow what a story. So amazing to hear that with the help of Ken and other strangers (especially the person who brought the dinghy) the hens were all saved and are happily home. I know it will take a long time to clean up after this devastating event, but I hope that Aussie sense of humour you mention helps. My thoughts are with you and your family and friends who are going through so much. And thanks for the link to the Flood Appeal.

  8. Been thinking about you and yours pretty constantly these days, ma chere—and glad to hear that you are keeping your head above water (so to speak). Am more than touched by this charming illo of the pretty little chook (whose name is Blanche Dubois, no doubt) and your tale of the kindness of strangers. You have that Aussie sense of humor in spades!

  9. Thank you, all ~ I'll certainly pass on your best to mum and her hubby. They will appreciate your positive thoughts.

    Genie ~ I'll be glad to put up my tootsies in the evenings, that's for sure!

    Thanks, dear Margaret. I used to be scared of chooks. This wasn't my ideal means of overcoming that phobia, but at least it's now overcome!!

    Cali ~ I had a feeling you'd appreciate the bonnet. Today was nicknamed Salvation Saturday, with armies of volunteers hitting the streets in a wonderfully-organised fashion. It's beautiful to see the kindness of strangers everywhere.

    Hiker ~ thank you ~ that's wonderful! This page looks like it will allow international credit card donations by Visa, Amex or MasterCard {in AUD but your card provider will automatically convert when charging you}. Or you can put a USD cheque in the mail & donations will be gratefully received either way!

    Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
    C/O Department of the Premier and Cabinet
    PO Box 15185
    City East QLD 4002

    Ms M ~ the girls are in seventh heaven!

    Thanks, Susan ~ and I'm glad to give you and Cali a new word for your vocab. Do tell me what kind of baffled expressions you incite when you test drive it over there. :)

    Katie ~ I still haven't found out the full story, but I think one man owned the dinghy, a different man skippered the dinghy {though I assume the owner also knew how to skipper!}, and yet another was just along to help out!

    Alexa ~ I'm counting my blessings. And speaking of spades, that's a very handy clean-up implement!

  10. I've updated the blog post and sidebar to indicate the following.

    Animal lovers may like to direct donations to the RSPCA here in Fairfield, Brisbane. Thank heavens, their staff, volunteers and Foster Carers were able to evacuate every animal safely, but the shelter went under in the floods and they cannot resume operations until they have cleaned and restored things to order. They aren't able to access the disaster relief offered to humans, so donations will be vital to their recovery. You can do so here. Thank you!

  11. Thank you shell. It was good to hear a story with a happy ending. Thanks for the links too, I've made good use of them.
    Loved the illo and name from Alexa - so fitting. How's the farm.

  12. Debs ~ I hope everything ended up ok for your various family/friends up here. Part of the farm is getting there. Volunteers started arriving on Sunday out of nowhere and the extra numbers really helped move things along. And it's happening everywhere. There's such generosity of spirit out there ~ beautiful.

  13. What a stressful time for all of you, humans and animals alike. I hope that the recovery efforts move along speedily so you all can get back to an element of normalcy. Yes, the kindness of strangers is a terrific gift, esp. in these difficult times!

  14. Shell, I'm relieved you're one of the lucky ones, and by extension your family and pretty chooks (ungrateful though they may be). Thanks for the links, and for the story, which has me picturing Ken as a knight in shining armor riding a dinghy.

  15. I often noticed that, luckily, sad times are never on their own. There are always amazing moments, totally free good actions, small and big miracles. The kind of things that make you hope (again) in the fundamental kindness of humans ! (Sorry, hard to express in English)

  16. That's so sad about the farm, but chook-lovers everywhere, among whom I'm proud to number myself, are raising a resilient cheer and a glass to the kindness of strangers. Bless your tremendous spirit, all of you, and may normality keep creeping back (helped by Shell's light touch).

  17. I am glad you are hanging in, and I'm so happy that some bright lights are clinging to the edges of such hardship and tragedy. Stories like this one make it more bearable.

    Huzzah for nice neighbors and dinghys.

    I'm sending good thoughts your way.

  18. I'm so awed by the generosity and spirit of people too. My family and friends are all fine. The mop up has begun and all are safe. :)

  19. Thanks, Kate! Regaining some sense of routine and normality wherever people can seems to be very helpful.

    Petrea ~ I am extremely lucky and grateful. The chooks were very relieved when they first arrived. I guess their memories are a little short!

    Marylène ~ you expressed it beautifully! Thank you.

    Mise ~ their fluffy behinds still make me smile!

    Amy ~ huzzah, indeed! :) So many out there bringing help and uplifting spirits.

    Debs ~ oh, I'm so glad to hear that!

  20. Dear Shell,
    I"m afraid I"m late with my good wishes and virtual bises, but I wanted to say hello nonetheless. I'm so glad the Cluck Sisters were spared. Friends....what would we do without them! I'm glad you are safe and back with us.

  21. Virginia ~ sorry, I've missed your latest Paris sojourn completely, but I'll start catching up on such things soon. I hope you had a beautiful time, and thank you so much for your virtual bises. x

  22. Wow what a story! Glad to hear about these kindnesses.


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