After two weeks of getting my little ex battery hens, I am thrilled to report on their progress. I had a few weeks of worry before collecting them as apparently some do not make it due to the dramatic change of life style. Thankfully, Faith, Hope and Charity are enjoying their new life and seem to be thriving in their surroundings.
I introduced them last week to Blodwyn and Bethan and was very happy with how it went. I let them meet through some netting first then took the plunge and put them into the large run all together. Bethan puffed herself out and swamped the poor little things but it wasn't too aggressive and soon they were all free ranging together. Tiny little Charity pictured below is the smallest of the three but was happy to scoff some lunch while the old girls sussed her out. The sweet thing is, she has now latched on to them just like a little sister and follows them around. I think they are showing her the ropes as she was the first to come out and scratch around with them and is already using the proper water container to drink from. Prior to this they were actually paddling in their water container then standing on the edge to tip it over. I was replacing it constantly so this is a great result that they are all following the experts and learning how to live.
It was always my plan to introduce them as soon as possible, as Bethan and Blodwyn have a huge coop with plenty of room and it didn't seem right to keep three young hens in a little coop. The good thing is I can use that now for a nursery pen and it will be great when I get some more as I hope to in the future.
The most touching sight was to see these little hens scratching around and taking their new world in. Pictured above is Hope enjoying her new surroundings, though she is still a bit confused with it all and retreats back into the safety of the coop every so often. They seem to love just being inside the coop too as there is so much room for them and plenty of things to stimulate them. I dragged some large branches in the other day for them to perch on also some old logs that are full of interesting things for them to peck at.
I was thrilled when I finally put them all into the 'Big house' all together, they ate a light supper and took themselves to bed without any problems and next morning there were not too many ruffled feathers, which makes me hope that they are getting on.
It's great to watch their progress and see them learn how to free range, enjoying life inside and out of their new chicken coop.
I went to pick up some ex-battery hens today. It was a very moving experience as when I got to the pick-up point, I met many people carrying hens away in all sorts of containers to start a new and happy life.
Within minutes of completing the paperwork, I was presented with my three little girls, who only this morning would have been living a very different life to the one they are now.
I sat with them on the journey home, peeping at them often to make sure they were ok. I even ensured we had relaxing music for them as we drove along.
It was amazing to watch as I pulled the cover gently from the top, they all moved towards the corner of the box to be bathed in the sparkling sunshine that beamed through the car window. Maybe their first experience of sunlight.
On reaching home, we lifted them into their new coop and very soon they started to eat, drink and explore their new home and by dusk they obediently let me put them to bed.
So, this is a new life for Faith, Hope and Charity. In the months to follow they will join the existing team and show a different side of life inside the chicken coop.
This is a painting by artist Suki White - http://www.sukiwhite.moonfruit.com/ We have just been on our annual Wrekin Writers retreat and she was working on this while we were there.
She kindly gave me the painting after I remarked on the resemblance of these hens to my own girls below. Bethan and Blodwyn now feel very special as they believe I commissioned the painting especially for them.
'Girls, I need to talk to you about something very important.'
'What is is it? Are you doing another crazy blog and want us to take part?'
'No, it's more important than that. We are going to adopt some hens. Ex Battery hens, they will need a lot of love and caring for, I need you to help me.
They will not look like you or behave like you. They will not have feathers and they may not be able to walk and talk as you do, but I want you to accept them as you would any other hen. We need to work together to make them happy when they come to their new home.'
'Oh fab, this sounds good, new sisters!'
' I want to play football with them.'
'I shall give them beauty tips.'
'But hold on, where are they going to live?'
'Here, I need to make sure they are OK before you all get acquainted, you will be able to get to know each other slowly this way, and you can natter over the garden fence to each other.'
'Oh that's a cool little coop, we will come and visit them, perhaps we will invite them round to us some time.'
'Yes, we will, I can't wait to meet our new additions. The door is always open to any friend - inside the chicken coop!'
I am hoping to make some Perry this year from my windfall pears. I spent a few lovely hours in the garden today. As the hens scratched around, I picked the fruit. They weren't interested while I was picking and raking the pears from the ground but as soon as I put them into the barrow they ran like mad and started eating them- little madams! They soon picked out the over ripe ones too that are starting to ferment. I will have to get them up soon before I have drunken chickens to cope with!
Why is it when a human shows an interest in something our animals join in? Usually it's only if there is food on offer though, they never help me clean out their coop or tidy the shed which is full of rat droppings!
The hens have been totally obsessed over the last few days as we were finishing off putting up the new greenhouse. Why on earth they think that the grass is greener inside a glass box with no obvious food on offer is beyond me but they were determined to get in. They were actually pecking the glass at one stage and were not amused by the fact they could not enter.
They watched me with the most peevish expressions as they stood at the doorway as even when it was open they were not quite able to make that final step inside.
So muggins here built them a ramp! Within seconds they were exploring their new see-through play pen.
I'm sure if I had left them in there they would take root. Blodwyn was more than happy to check out my tomatoes and scratch at the gravel I had neatly brushed into place! That didn't last very long.
I guess they are just like us in a way and just like to see to see things from a different angle, though the novelty hasn't worn off yet, every time I open the door, they dive inside only to stare out of the window on the outside again - crazy chickens!
I think the flower fairy may be giving Bethan a little telling off for scratching up my flowers. I only turned my back for a few minutes to peg some washing out and there she was digging up my Dianthus! Shocking what these free range little madams get up to. I can forgive her though and she did come quietly when bribed with a bag full of goodies!
Very sad news today as my gorgeous little Braith pictured right of Blodwyn died today.
She was looking poorly this morning and didn't want to come out of the coop. I almost expected it but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. The trouble is I love my animals so deeply, it's unbearable when they do go.
The wonderful thing is that I am sure she had a happy life. She was always willing to take part and join in my mad antics inside the chicken coop and out. She even had her 15 minutes of fame when she appeared in 'Your Chickens' Magazine last month to show them celebrating the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April.
Braith - a wonderful old bird, who at the grand age of 6 years and 5 months has given me so many happy moments and mad things to blog about.
Mirror, mirror on the wall ...... Oh dear! I reckon fame has gone to Braith's head after finding out she is in 'Your Chickens' Magazine this month. www.yourchickens.co.uk
It's a great magazine and a lovely way to share stories with other readers who are keen on keeping our feathered friends as pets. I love to hear that some folk are as crazy about them as I am.
It was such a lovely surprise to open the July issue to find my picture of the girls celebrating the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton that took place in April earlier this year. They do love to party and join in with everything that we do.
They love the limelight and I am now wondering where they will appear next? Who knows, perhaps one day I will be acting as their agent!
I do apologise for those of you who have had enough of the Royal Wedding but I think it really did bring the 'feel good factor' to most of the country, in fact to other parts of the world too for those who wanted to celebrate the event.
I think it was sharing with other people and of course my gorgeous animals that made it feel special. I spoke to so many people who were doing various things and it was great to talk about the fun and frolics of the numerous street parties that were being held up and down the county.
The day before we had a dress down event at work in aid of the 26 charities that the royal couple support and on the day I made a donation which covers several animal charities so I was only too pleased to give a little.
Many people that I spoke to howled with laughter when I said I was holding a party for the chickens but why not? Everyone has the right to party, especially when most of the time the news is so depressing and worrying. This was a bit of light relief, even if it was over done a little.
I like to feel that we were all part of history that day. It's like saying you remember what you were doing on a certain date back in history. I will certainly remember sharing the Mad Hatter's tea party with my sweet little hens and hearing the cars pap their horn when they passed our cottage which was also adorned with flags.
It was a wonderful celebration of life and goodwill to others, and I loved every minutue of it.