With all the excitement of not having power for three days following the storm, I completely forgot to tell you about the latest additions to Margot’s brood, dear Reader. Our first foray into feathers…….CHICKENS!!!!
Having bulldozed Jerry into the idea, aided and abetted by Primrose and Poppy, we somehow managed to find four little hens looking for a ‘good life’ too! So off I popped in the car for the five mile drive to Alison, the ‘chicken lady’, who was a delight to meet and managed to show us all her cockerels and hens, despite suffering from a dreadful harvest injury having fallen from a ladder whilst picking apples. Only in the countryside dear Reader…! Primrose was fascinated by all the different sorts of chickens especially the Legbars and their blue eggs but most of all wanted to see Alison’s pony. With the mention of vintage tractors too, I thought that Primrose might well adopt Alison and give her own mother the heave-ho! Chickens, ponies, AND vintage tractors…….Primrose was in seventh heaven! The whole ‘putting the chickens into a box’ malarkey was hilarious and we nearly lost the four of them in the wind when Primrose opened the crate and attempted to pick one up! Finally in their cardboard box, I had visions of them escaping in the back of the Lanny as we made our way home along the country lanes….thankfully all was well and the Hampshire feathered four clucked away merrily,
SO without further ado dear Reader, I introduce to you our four clucky hybrid girls:
Prudence (Pru for short) is Primrose’s hen and she is a Magpie. The biggest hen by far and quite feisty too! She was the first to lay on their second day with us and has already given us some beautiful double-yolked eggs. A rather wonderful treat indeed!
Henny Penny (Poppy’s girl) is a very friendly little Columbian BlackTail and comes from the same breeder who breeds hens for Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate and Waitrose! She is a poppet and really doesn’t mind the fact that she has to make do with our more rustic setting when all her little brown henny friends have gone to far grander surroundings.
Dotty, my little hen, (a very nervous Cuckoo Speckledy) seems to be the primary escape artist and can often be found sitting on the roof of the hen house. Dot evades all human touch for now but I am intent on winning her round with mealworms!
Finally, Layla, Jerry’s chicken (spot the attempt at a comedy name from Jerry) a beautiful looking Light Sussex. So far she seems very shy and only ventures out when she spies a handful of corn being scattered. She loves to cosy up in the nesting box.
With the hens settled and exploring their new surroundings, Jerry set about erecting the electric fence. A much bigger job than Jerry and I expected. I’m afraid that Jerry spent most of an afternoon in the rain cursing me for persuading him into an adventure with livestock. To be fair to Jerry, I had tangled most of the netting and he spent an hour getting soaked to keep the hens safe at night from Mr Foxy Loxy. To add to the drama, Monty got a little too acquainted with the fence at one point and has since given it and the chickens a very wide berth!!!
Two weeks in and the excitement of peeping into the nest box hasn’t waned. Each day, Primrose, Poppy and I tiptoe to the coop to see if our feathered friends have left us any eggy offerings. I have to say that even the hen’sceptic’ Jerry is mildly won over by the abundance of brown eggs! Two a day so far and some HUGE eggs have appeared considering the hens are only 24 weeks old. It is miraculous how they manage it! Happy to report that I am now completely hen obsessed and spend most mornings (at the crack of dawn standing in the chicken run in my pyjamas, coat and wellies) trying to work out who has given us an egg and who is top of the pecking order. I have also developed a rather serious habit for buying chicken paraphernalia……..well, would you expect anything less, dear Reader? In fact, I am off to buy an egg run from my favourite haunt, Garden Trading, right this minute to display our ‘egg’cellent haul in the kitchen for all to see.