Day by Day

5 May 2017

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I thought I’d write a little about our chickens. At the moment we have motley crew of six. Three little brown ones, and three more unusual ones. We’ve been keeping chickens about nine years I think, and we started off with three beautiful hens, a white, a black and a brown one. We found some egg cups with the exact same trio, and keep them on the dresser now, only to come out at Easter.

We’ve had several batches of chicks (one of our original hens was pretty broody), and one of guinea fowl, as our field neighbour wanted some eggs hatched and we had a sitting hen. Ours have always been great mums, and I feel I’ve identified with them as they go through the process of patiently sitting, fending off all potential threats (otherwise calm hens become very feisty when protecting their young), losing feathers and becoming bedraggled looking as they try to care for their chicks. We had a cockerel from one clutch, which we kept until he became too noisy; then he was assigned to the field where he either met his match with a fox, or maybe is living free in the woods…….He was huge and dwarfed the boys when they held him!

The hen in the photo is an escape artist. During the winter I let them have free reign of the back garden, which means they prepare the soil and eat up all the slug eggs. This year, however, due to the bird flu restrictions, they have had to stay mostly in captivity. But, this one, now she has had a taste of freedom, wants more. Trouble is, I’m planting out my seeds, and reseeding the grass, which they have scratched up. So, I clipped her wings, and Lanky Dude and I had a concerted effort to make their run like Colditz….and five minutes later she was out again! Another go at securing it, and only one escape. Will have to work on weak points tomorrow. Sometimes I have to make myself go out and open them up in the mornings, especially when it’s cold and wet. But mostly the enjoyment I gain from them far outweighs the effort. They are such characters, and it’s peaceful watching them clucking and scratching around for grain. They are a much-loved part of my daily life.

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