On a bakkie in Bloem: life's a journey for Hen and her brood

2009-11-18 00:00

BLOEMFONTEIN — Petro Fourie-Rautenbach races through the streets of Bloemfontein in her white bakkie, feathers flying as far as she goes.

Hen has made her nest on the back of the bakkie, and no one has ma­naged to get her down. As soon as the truck starts to move, she defends her nest as if her life depends on it.

By yesterday, Hen had even hatched two chicks on the back of the moving bakkie. Every now and again she rolls the four remaining eggs back in place under their natural down mattress.

When Fourie-Rautenbach steps on the accelerator, the little chicks go on the hop.

Ouma Petro is nearly cock-eyed from turning her head to make sure her feathered family is still okay.

At first, Hen jumped on the back of the bakkie and started picking at some bricks there in search of a bug or a slug.

Next, she made her nest between four bricks in a corner, triumphantly claiming the spot with a perfectly laid egg. Since then, she simply refuses to move.

“I drove past a jackhammer and she didn’t even bat an eyelid … nothing ever seems to upset her.”

Hen is one of a long list of eccentric animals belonging to Ouma. There was the hen who laid her eggs in a little basket next to the bread bin; then there was Pikkels, the macaw, who had a deathly fear of ­water, and hid in Ouma’s handbag when she went shopping.

Pikkels slept next to Ouma Petro’s son in his bed.

Now it’s Hen and her offspring who enjoy the wind in their fluff when Ouma Petro zips through town.

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