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Annus Horribilis

Forgive me if this post seems rather long, but it has been a terrible year and I feel the need to express my feelings.

Twenty-seventeen saw a significant milestone in our lives. Ten years ago, on August Bank Holiday Weekend 2007, we spent the weekend building a chicken house and small run. We had never built a coop before, and so we followed instructions found on the Internet. We had also never kept chickens before, in fact neither of us had had a pet since we were children. Rather a strange hobby for two middle-aged people to be embarking upon.  Nevertheless, I had read all the advice in magazines and on the internet chicken sites, talked at length to a hen-keeping colleague at work, and I was now ready to give it a go. Hetty, Betty and Letty entered our lives, and nothing has been the same since.

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Hetty Betty and Letty, Oct 2008

Today, 2nd September 2017, marks our ten year anniversary of the joy, rapture, despair and heartache that is chicken keeping. Joy and rapture, because they are such wonderful, engaging, joyous creatures, interested in everything (try keeping them out of the kitchen if you inadvertently leave the door open!), willing to eat anything (Millie caught a small shrew this autumn and despatched it with vigorous efficiency), smart (they have been shown to apply deductive reasoning, and they certainly recognise and remember), and surprisingly caring of each other even if they do have a reputation for hierarchical organisation and enforcement (the pecking order). Despair and heartache because of the many illnesses that can befall a chicken, how very fragile they can seem, and how much they touch our hearts during their brief lives.

Today, at the end of our momentous year, I am sad at our losses but also so thankful that we took that step into the unknown ten years ago, because I would not have missed knowing and loving these chooks for any other experience you could name.

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Lupin, Jan 2017

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Six New Hens

It was my birthday at the beginning of May, and my husband racked his brains for ideas of what to buy me as a present. What do you give the woman who has all the electrical gadgets she can safely carry? Why, six more hens of course!
We lost our two remaining Cream Legbar hens at the end of 2014, and since I very much like the breed, we chose to increment our flock with six Legbars. It is a popular breed at the moment, as people seem to think that the blue-green eggs are fashionably desirable. I like the hens because they are busy little chooks and carry their fan-like tails with aplomb! And Charlie and Freddie, our two Legbar cockerels, needed some more ladies.

Sorrel

Sorrel

Suzie and Sage

Suzie and Sage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off we went to Storrs Poultry, and bought their last remaining half-dozen POL hens. It was a day of high winds and torrential rain, but we managed to keep them separate with some shelter, until chicken bedtime, when we distributed them among the houses. There was some resistance, involving chasing and cornering!

The next morning, when we came to let them out of the coops, we let them select where they would prefer to live, and three decided to live with Charlie, the other three being happy with Freddie. They were accepted into their new homes with a minimum of fuss and the boys have been most attentive, finding them tasty treats, shepherding them into bed at night, and generally looking after them. They have all come into lay, most days giving us four blue eggs, one greenish blue egg and one egg so pale it is almost white.

Lovage and Lupin

Lovage and Lupin

A belated welcome to Suzie, Sorrel and Sage (all with Freddie), and Lucy, Lovage and Lupin (with Charlie).

Lucy

Lucy

 

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