Tag Archive: Hens


New recruits

Thanks in no small part to some silly woman who is leaving dog biscuits and other tempting treats in the lane that runs outside our house, a fox braved coming into our garden the other night.  It managed to get into the smaller A-frame hen house, and kill the two hens in there.  So I hope dog-biscuit woman is pleased with herself.

Anyway, we’ve just had three new chucks delivered (honestly – there are three, just the other one went straight into the house before I could take her photo!) – and the hen house has a new catch which will hopefully foil Mr Fox if he returns.

Let’s hope these hens have a long and happy fox-free life!

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New Arrivals

We have three new hens (someone else’s regretted impulse purchase donated to us!).  We cleaned out and re-felted the roof of the old chicken coop yesterday in preparation, and they arrived today at lunch time.  Very attractive point-of-lay – maybe their production levels will encourage the old gals in the main run! 

 

They do look very slight in comparison with the birds in the established ‘peep’, but no doubt they’ll mature fast.  I just hope they don’t get too badly bullied when they join the others.  Nice to have some young stock though to help replace our ageing hen population.

I’ve also finished digging over the main veg plot today (hoorah!).  Only the smaller plot to do now.  So should soon be able to start getting some veggies in…  Spring is definitely on the way.  😉

Went to let the hens out this morning, and one was lying dead in the straw near the door.  Very sad.  Hens have no respect for each other – the others were just stepping over (and sometimes on) her to get out.  I presume she was the one who was tucked up asleep one evening recently when I went to shut them in.  Thinking about it now, it was unusual. 

I guess I’m going to have to get used to them dying of old age/natural causes, rather than premature fox murder, now they’re generally safe in their run.  When we just had the small coop, they mostly got clobbered before they had a chance to reach old age.

We’ve buried her under the big apple tree where all the hens like to spend a lot of time, scratching around.  RIP, little girl.  😦

Lost another chicken.  I don’t mean in the euphemistic sense of ‘lost’ as in it died – I mean lost.  It was there on Saturday morning when I let them out, but somewhere during the day it disappeared.  At hen-bedtime, there were only eight chucks in the gypsy caravan.  We’ve been out looking for signs of carnage – a mass of feathers, or whatever – but no sign of a distressing end.  Has she been hen-napped?  Or did she make a break for freedom?  I guess we’ll never know.

The remaining hens seem a little subdued, poor girls.  And I’m anxious about letting them out now, so they’re still in their run at the moment.  As I’ve mentioned before in a previous post, it’s a tough call – safety or freedom.  If they could choose, which would they prefer?

When we started keeping hens, it didn’t occur to me that they would be so entertaining, but they really are as amusing as they are useful.  They are incredibly food focused (and I thought the ponies were greedy) – you only have to appear in the garden for them to be running up and down the edge of their run, eagerly awaiting whatever you might bring.  And their reactions when you throw something in for them are razor sharp and hilarious.  Like a very poor amateur football team chasing the ball around the pitch, they all run for the first morsel, then all turn and run again for the next piece you throw.  Most humorous of all is the hen who gets the prize – and runs with whatever it is in her beak, being chased by all the other hens so she can’t actually enjoy her feast anyway. 

But they are obviously thriving on their current diet of layers mash, pellets and corn, plus those extra kitchen scraps because they are laying better than ever at the moment.  We often get queries from other hen-keepers in the village about the productivity of our hens, and we always have to say yes, they are still laying.  Perhaps they’re just at the optimum age right now, or perhaps they’re just very happy hens.

Rescue chucks!

Five new arrivals today, from the usual chicken farm.  They’re relative youngsters (60 weeks) – only available as they had escaped from their shed/enclosure (?) are were therefore unable to be returned to the flock because of the risk of disease contamination.  Thus, if we’d not provided a home for them, they’d have been for the chop. 

      

Not quite sure how far they’d escaped, or where they’d ended up, but presumably we’ll have to be on the look out in case they try to escape from our hen enclosure!  For the moment, we’ve penned them separately from our other girls – just until they’ve all go to know one another a bit. One has already hopped over the fence and been beaten up by the established group! 

So our garden looks more like a small holding than ever now – especially now more of the veggies are coming through (carrots looking good, parsnips just peeping through).

OK, so when I made that awful pun in my last post, perhaps I was being a little harsh.  The hens are, I think, the secret weapon of anyone attempting self-sufficiency.  They ensure kitchen scraps which can’t go on the compost heap do not go to waste.  They provide eggs for the household.  And, with our egg sales going as well as they are currently, they earn enough to cover the cost of the corn and pellet feed – with some over which goes towards other expenses.  In addition, they are comical and entertaining, and bring the garden alive. 

So, thank you hens, your work is appreciated!  😉

So, our hens are all normal Warrens – you know, the ones which just look like…well….chickens.  At the yard where we keep our ponies, there’s a much larger flock of hens, of varying types.  My hens always take a great interest in my gardening and talk to me lots as they bob about doing the weeding.  Similarly, yesterday the hens at the yard came to watch me shovelling the lovely rotted manure from last year’s muck heap into bags, and they chatted away.  The Warrens amongst them clucked in just the same way as ours – rather like anxious middle-aged black country women (“awww – cluck”), but the others clucked in a much softer way.  Presumably, just like any other birds, different types of hen have a different call…..I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before, but somehow it’s harder to imagine with hens. 

Does this mean different types of cow (as opposed to different cows!) moo in different “accents”?!  Or pigs or sheep? 

Maybe I should stop spending so much time with the hens….!

😉

Two new hens joined our flock yesterday (apparently “flock” is only one of the collective nouns for hens – you could also say “brood” or, my personal favourite, “peep”!).  They’ve come from a free-range flock of 11,000 hens – a proper commercial set-up, obviously.  There, the hens provide 18 months worth of laying, after which point it is assumed that their output will have dropped off and they are sent for slaughter (for cat food or similar rather than for human consumption).  In our experience though, they continue laying quite happily for long afterwards, so we’ve saved two from the chop.

The two new arrivals seem a bit stunned – understandably.  After much thought (see earlier post “What Price Freedom”) we’ve come to the conclusion that the hens are allowed to roam freely in the whole garden when someone is around the house and garden to keep an eye on them, but they are only let out into the run if they are to be unsupervised. This morning, as I was doing a bit in the garden, and I know they like to help, I opened the run gate.  Our ebullient four home hens rushed out to see what I was up to, but the newbies couldn’t be tempted.  Still, I’m sure they’ll settle in soon enough and start adding to our egg production as we currently can’t keep up with demand!

The hens helping me with the weeding

Of course, having two new additions means hen housing is becoming an issue.  OK, that fabulous £3000 gypsy caravan is still out of the question, but it’s certainly time to think about a larger house and run for our expanding “peep”!