So here they are. My three little hens: Snowflake, Chickie and Speckledy (named by the children, of course - can you guess which is which?).
I've not given them much blogspace since they arrived in the spring, partly because I've been very busy with so many other things, not least sorting out their poop - yes chickens do a lot of that as I've come to learn. However, as my thoughts this week are focusing on the garden and how composting and wormeries can help with food waste, I thought it would be great time to share news of how my hens are getting on....or indeed how I'm getting on with my hens.
I remember when I announced that we were getting chickens.
"Bloody hell!" exclaimed my mother in here lilting Welsh accent. "What ew getting them for? Havven ew got enough on yewer hands woman?"
Then I'm sure CompostWoman sent a note saying "Just wait till you see what they do to your garden".
But I ignored the advice and took the bull by the horns, or rather went to the hen breeder just off the A14 past Newmarket and came back with three hens.
And within one week the Speckledy Hen was laying. Within a month the other two were following suit.
But my mother was right. I have had to juggle around routines to fit in the extra work. But that's okay, because what it means is that I am now happier to stay at home watching the hens than gallivanting around town shopping.
Chickens have an amazing therapeutic and calming effect. I just adore watching them and their funny little movements, scratching with their feet, and pecking at the ground.
But I often think of CompostWoman's wise words about what they would do to our little suburban garden.
It's all come true. All the leaves that are spread on the lawn are thanks to the girls getting busy hunting under the bushes.
And the view from my living room has changed a lot, on account of them digging out the gravel from the flower beds. This is the scene from the French windows as I write my blog this morning.
We don't mind the leaves so much or indeed the poop that gets dropped on the lawn. Indeed parts of our garden have never looked so good.
But it's the gravel digging that has caused us the greatest problems, because the stones have spread across the lawn, killing the grass in many places.
So as a temporary measure (while we work on redesigning our space), Mr A built a chicken run to keep the girls in one place.
What he hadn't anticipated however was how the chickens would plot their great escape, particularly Chickie who appears to be the ring leader.
First she dug under the fence and was successful, so we soon put a stop to that and blocked her escape route.
Then she learned out to jump up onto the chicken wire and with a bit of a wobble was the free bird she wanted to be.
But I put a stop to that, by digging in some extra canes to block her path to freedom.
However, not to be beaten, her final "piece de resistance" has involved jumping on top of the eglu henhouse, flapping her wings and launching herself over the fence, to the admiration of the other hens she's left behind.
She's most definitely worthy of a part in the animated movie "Chicken Run". In fact it was Chickie who sent me into a Benny Hill kind of dance, with me and the boys following her up the stairs and down again the first time she "broke into" our house.
Despite our "teething trouble" with the garden, they are the most wonderful pets. The children adore them and so do their friends. Where my youngest boy is a natural in picking them up and handling them, my eldest son has been more cautious. But even he can catch and hold them now too.
And as for the scraps, they help out in many ways, supporting my 5 year old bin saboteur with his leftovers. He's not much better than when I first started The Rubbish Diet, and still leaves half-munched apples and a compulsory amount of pasta or rice, no matter how little is served on his plate.
So the chickens are now my best friends, when it comes to reducing my little one's food waste. Better on their hips than mine. Anything that's too spicy for them, I add to the wormery.
And the thanks we get are the eggs we collect each morning. Mostly three a day, except when they are broody, but even then Chickie, the Calder Ranger, kept laying every day, when all around her had stopped. They've been so productive, I've only had to buy eggs on one occasion since we've had them.
At least that's some compensation for the destruction of the garden.
And long may it continue...the eggs that is...not the gravel!
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Labels: Keeping Chickens