After a couple of false starts, we were finally able to collect three new hens yesterday. We made the decision a couple of years ago to rescue battery hens instead of keeping pure breeds, but the poor ex-batts don’t live very long, so we’ve decided to add a few hearty birds to the flock. We’ve selected a white leghorn, a minorca, and an araucana (not pictured). The first two will lay white eggs (we were gifted one today!) and the araucana will lay either a khaki green or a blue egg. It’ll be some time until we find out. She’s very young – so much so that she still makes wee chick ‘peeping’ noises. It’s quite cute. I’d hoped to get a better photo, but they’re still quite nervous and move around a lot when I approach the pen. Once they’re out free-ranging with the rest, I should be able to get a better snap.
Pearl is a marans and will one day lay chocolate-coloured eggs. She is also an expert on the balance beam.
On Monday, one of our lovely hens tried to crow. She’d had a red face, wattles, and comb for some time, but hadn’t laid any eggs. Yesterday morning, we spotted the beginnings of spurs on her legs. After a quick trip to a breeder nearby, our fears were confirmed — our beautiful buff Orpington hen is a cockerel. The breeder was really nice and took Penny as he doesn’t have neighbours who’d be disturbed by crowing. Penny now lives with lots of pretty chickens and bantams, including the little guy in the photo. We brought home two Isa hens to try to fill the flock out a bit. One of them laid an egg this morning. Hurrah!
Meet Violet, aka ‘Violent’, ‘The Poo Poo’, ‘Meanie’, and ‘Bossy Butt’. She’s a Dutch partridge bantam and the smallest girl in our flock. She’s also the fiercest little bird you’ll ever meet. Next to June, Violet is commander in chief. She keeps the other hens and bantams in line by chasing, biting, and pulling their feathers. Even birds five times her size won’t challenge her authority. Not bad for a fourteen ounce bantam.
Sam is a silver duck-winged Welsummer. She came to us with that wonky toe. It doesn’t seem to bother her at all, and she gets around just fine. Sam lays beautiful terracotta-coloured eggs. She’s a lovely little bird.
One of our new girls laid her first egg yesterday. Sam — a silver duck-winged welsummer — laid a tiny egg. It’s the same size as a bantam egg.
There is nothing tastier than a freshly-plucked leaf from an elderberry tree, and it’s even nicer if you pick it yourself. June the Light Sussex hen will jump again and again for her favourite treat. She’s nearly ready for a place in the WNBA.
It’s been a tough few days, but we’re gradually getting back to normal. I miss my girls a lot, but at least the horrid raw feeling is gone. Two hens survived the attack. June was untouched. Olive was badly shaken, but she’s doing much better. She’s been laying, too, which is an excellent sign. We have six new chicks who are settling in nicely. I’ll get some pictures of them soon.
We often hear knocking at the back door as the hens love to peck at the glass. I’m not sure if they can see their reflection or if they’re trying to say hello to the cats who are often lounging at the back of the house. From left to right: Ruby, Nella, and Olive. June is at the back.
This handsome fellow lives at the animal park in a nearby village. He’s a Scots Dumpy rooster, and he was quite happy to take the dandelion leaves I picked for him and his many girlfriends. Scots Dumpies are beautiful birds. They have short little legs so they waddle like ducks when they walk.
Chicks in their incubator. Aren’t they cute? It’s amazing these fluffy little balls of sweetness can grow into the shrieking harpy hen currently guarding eggs in our nest box. She bit me again today!
Don’t be fooled by the vacant, docile stare. Elspeth means business, and by business I mean sitting on eggs at any cost. She’s got three at the moment (none belonging to her) and she repeatedly shrieks like some prehistoric monster and bites my hand if I try to take them. Her butt is like a furnace, so I think we might have our first broody hen. Notice she’s ‘tidied’ the nest box by kicking all of the straw out. Lovely!
You can just see Nudge and Olive off to her right, too. The weather has been fantastic, and the girls have enjoyed the sunshine. I’m not sure how much longer it will last, though. We’re due a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland today!
With better weather finally here, our girls are back into full production. From the top right (first column) we have eggs from Olive, Alice, and June. The second column is courtesy of Nella and Ruby. The girls eat a lot of young grass this time of year which make the yolks orange and extra tasty.
What a week! In seven days I’ve 1) worked like a dog, 2) planned, purchased, and arranged the installation of a kitchen, 3) kept house (barely). March is shaping up to be one of the busiest months I’ve ever experienced. At least the weather should be warmer for a bit of hen watching in my spare time.