In Conversation With: Jane Osgathorp

Jane has been volunteering for the BHWT Cambridge team since 2014. Before her volunteering began she had previously adopted hens from the charity but knew she was destined to do more. By day, Jane is an NHS nurse, and lately, her job has become a mammoth task, taking on the responsibility of keeping the country going during this pandemic. But by night, Jane is also a poorly carer for the BHWT.

When beginning her journey with the BHWT she tells us “I just absolutely loved the rehoming days and it was such a contrast to my normal busy life as an NHS nurse”. At the time, Mel Lazenby was the team leader of Team Cambridge, and she taught Jane a lot about caring for hens. Mel is still Jane’s “go-to” person for advice in particularly poorly hens due to her wealth of experience and expertise. It was not long before Jane got the hen bug, wanting to embed herself into the charity. She tells us “quite soon I was helping at the farm and I have hardly missed a rehoming since I started”. This was only the beginning of Jane’s journey as a poorly hen carer.

Jane was always interested in caring for the poorly hens. To begin with, Mel gave started Jane off with fairly straight forward sick or injured hens – although maybe they were not as straight forward to Jane at the time! Over the following years, Jane’s confidence grew with caring for poorly hens and so Mel gave her more complex hens to care for. It was an excellent way to learn and gain confidence in caring for poorly hens. 

When caring for poorly hens, the hens will usually stay in the carer’s home or garden. Jane tells us “fortunately I have a tolerant partner and a good-sized garden and before long we had given over the top of the several run set-ups designed for hens with different care and rehabilitation needs” This method helped Jane to split her time around her busy daily life at the hospital and the time needed to care for the hens.  

Jane truly is a hero when it comes to her commitment to her job and these hens. She gives us a rundown of what a typical day looks like for her;

“My workdays start at about 05:30 am. If we have hens in the house, they get their breakfast (often this will be syringe feeding initially), giving any medication they are due, cleaning them out, doing a little physio if needed, and ensuring they are set up for the day with food and water close at hand.

I am lucky that my partner Nick is brilliant with poorly hens and will feed them during the day if needed. It’s also nice getting little updates and the odd photo during the day! I am also very fortunate to have a couple of good friends locally who can help from time to time if necessary. On one occasion when I was due to go on holiday and I had 3 girls with broken legs as houseguests, Mel Lazenby came to the rescue and took the girls on until my return. Having that network of help is really reassuring.

When I get in of an evening, it is a similar routine to the morning, but I have the luxury of spending more time with them. As for my other hens that live outside, they are very used to me checking on them early in the morning before work. Nick gives them some corn and collects any eggs later in the day and I will check in on them when I get home – for 6 months of the year that is with a torch peering in the nesting box! I love the little sounds they make and seeing them snuggled up together safe, warm and comfortable.”

It seems as if Jane never stops! She is brilliantly committed to both hens and the hospital and we cannot thank her enough for the work she puts in! But what does she do on a day off? Spends time with her hens of course! Jane tells us “on my days off I love spending time with them. My outdoor hens love to free-range (when they are not in lockdown) when we are at home and I like nothing better than seeing them enjoy wandering around the garden and digging up my new plants.”

Thank you Jane for sharing a little bit of your life with us and for working so hard to help poorly hens and humans alike.