In my very last post, I did say that chickens were expected to land next year. Turns out 2017 has come early here, because we just went and got them.
I’ll say it – they do freak me out a bit. Their feet belong to dinosaurs, The Birds put me in fear of being pecked to death and when they want to run, they can sprint like mad. Not to mention the flapping. But there’s something about these ones – our ones – that I’m not quite as afraid of. They’re actually very tame, and observing them, you can clearly see personalities coming through – this is just a couple of days in.
We bought a chicken coop that can hold three to four hens from Amazon. The lovely lady down the road from whom we got the hens recommended Smiths Sectional coops, but they cost an absolute fortune and we didn’t want to spend too much on the first purchase in case it turned out it wasn’t for us. We did decide not to put four in it though, giving them a bit more room.
The first thing we did was to paint it with Ronseal Garden Paint – Summer Sky and Daisy. It was a bit fraught because it kept raining when we were trying to paint it and once the hen hut had arrived, we didn’t want to wait another week to get the hens, so time pressure was on! It’s not the best paint job – lots of bits need to be touched up, but it’ll do for now.
This is the area behind the greenhouse – before and after. Much improved!
When we went to choose our chickens, Scarlett was wandering round the area and eventually climbed into a coop with a hen. She has absolutely no fear, that child. As that one seemed friendly, we decided to get her – this is Tiana (oh, yes, they’re all named after Disney princesses).
She’s the trouble maker. She’s into everything. I think we may need to clip her wings, because she’s already taken to flying onto the potting shed roof and then jumping off the other side to wander the rest of the garden.
This is Aurora. She seems to be happy just to wander about and be told what to do by the others at the moment. Tiana and Aurora are Gingernut Rangers, and we were told that they’re excellent layers and very sociable.
This is Belle. She’s a Blacktail Red. She’s a bit haughtier than the other two, and not quite as friendly yet. She was also the first to lay an egg, and God, but we knew about it. She was running round and clucking like mad to celebrate. She ran over to the fence to tell me about it!
I’d been showing some friends inside the henhouse a few minutes earlier and she was in there and shouted (or whatever the chicken equivalent is) at me, so I thought she might lay soon, even though we were told it would be another two weeks before they’d all be mature enough. Here’s the inaugural egg.
We had none on the first day (we got them around lunchtime Saturday), Belle and Aurora both laid on Sunday, and we had one from all of them on Monday! The shells seemed thicker than normal eggs (and we do always buy free range), the white had a very thick inner layer, and they made lovely, golden Yorkshire puddings.
Barry’s built a temporary fence, dividing off the bottom of the garden so they can wander about freely. The lady said they’ll love it there, with lots of greenery to investigate, a compost heap to find yummy worms and Barry even found them terrorising a poor frog yesterday (RIP). He’s going to build a more permanent structure over the next few weekends, albeit almost pointless as they can all currently fly.
We had a ridiculous time trying to get them to bed on the first night. Chickens would usually go to bed at the time between when the sun goes down and darkness sets in. It took a good half hour of running about, Benny Hill style, to catch them all and set them in the coop, and two of them could only be caught after Barry had perfected the art of throwing his jacket over them. The second night, they all walked in a most orderly fashion into the coop with absolutely no bother.
Barry’s built a run for them for when I’m here on my own when he’s working away, as if they decide to run or fly off, trying to catch them (when I’m already a bit nervous of them) with two kids in tow does not sound like my idea of fun.
A lot of the security measures (chicken wire underneath the grass; wire extending beyond the run; ensuring the locks are in place on the front of the coop and the egg boxes) are solely to foil foxes. I’m worried one of our princesses might fall foul of Fantastic Mr Fox! There is definitely one in the area…