Preparations for their arrival began with ripping out one side of the fruit cage. having seen
the horrendous price of chicken coops, we decided to buy a £99 B and Q shed and I got on with customising it, building
a storage container and nest box on one side from whence we expect our ladies to produce lovely little eggs. We were
treated to some of these delicious small eggs from Grace's family (one of Catherine's school friends) who kindly gave us their
new brood of Bantams. I don't think I've ever had such a tasty, or yellow, Omelette!! We're giving up the
fruit cage to them, but hoping that the raspberries and gooseberries will still survive!! Some hope. Even Catherine got the
We took on seven girls and one boy. They are a Belgium bantam, but we've been unsuccesfull
finding out the exact breeds name.
Grace's family have kept them free range for somewhile. These eight were the result of them
showing Grace the process of the chicken from the egg! At night they flew up into the trees and roosted there, and we have
been a little worried now that they will be penned, albeit in a very nice large pen with a brilliantly constructed hen
After a further three weeks, the girls are settling in nicely.. without Basil's antics!! But they
only occassionally use the hen house to roost at nights, prefering to sleep on the roof of the house with their heads up against
the wire, which has proved most interesting for the local cat population. As yet they are not laying... they are still a couple
of weeks too young, (that's the excuse!) so we're keeping our fingers crossed for some October eggs!
Sadly after just one day and ONE MORNING, Basil, our cockrell had to go. He was just too noisy for the neighbours.
Now don't panic.... Liz has found him a new loving home, at a specialist breeder called 'Happy Hens'. There he can go
back to sleeping in the trees, and the owner has promised if we want some fertislised eggs anytime to just ask! He said pop
them under your broody hens and Bobs your Uncle, or rather Basils your Dad.....Cockadoodledoo!
Mid October 2006
We think the girls are approaching their laying age, approximately 20 weeks old, but a friend who keeps
chickens tells me that he doesn't think they will now lay until the new year as they mault about now. That first egg
is going to be quite an event!
We've been 'tarting up' the enclosure a bit with a rain cover for the feeder, and for the girls!! And numerous
tree branches have been added to provide additional roosting opportunities! The cats appear to have lost interest a little...
as Liz puts it.... chickens are further up the pecking order! Keeping the enclosure secure is quite an issue though as our
girls are prolific diggers!
Late October 2006
I am happy to report the arrival of our first egg!! Despite being only 50mm in length, we're very
proud of our girls. The happy event happened sometime between 10am and 4pm on Sunday 22nd October.
Temperatures are down to freezing in the UK, so will the chickens make it inside the hen house
instead of roosting on top!! It's a long term plan to add a webcam inside the hen house as well as the one we have
Wednesday night, bitter cold, but NO, five were out on the roof, just 2 were in!! Daft animals!
Late November 2006
The chickens have been getting 'tanked up'!! That is, to act as yet another defence against the
dreaded fox, I have dug in a chicken wire floor to their enclosure. 20 cm down attached to the side walls it has created
a kind of 'tank' (for want of a better word) Then if anything tries to burrow up under the walls, they'll hit the wire floor.
What I've learnt from watching all those great escape war movies!!The digging created much merriment amongst the
girls, the worms didn't stand a chance, mind you I had to watch where I put the spade!
May 30th 2007
We're very sad to report that the long feared fox attack on our chickens happened on Wednesday night. We
lost three of our lovely girls including Brenda Brown chest and Snowy White. We are of course very sad and deeply
concerned for the four remaining girls. The spread of foxes into the urban environment seems to go on unabated, and now it's
deeply affected us.
We never did find Brenda, I guess she was the one who got carried off to feed the fox. We buried the other
two in our animal graveyard. But thinking about it, the tankingup worked, the fox didn't get into the enclosure, but being
summer we had an enclosed but flimsy moveable run that enabled them to get out onto the fresh grass, and it was there that
they got clobbered. To this day I have no idea how the fox extracted Brenda through 10 millimetre chicken wire, but even three
months later, and a good clean up, chicken feathers can be found all over the garden. It was all very sad, and we remain affected.
Needless to say the moveable run has been deconstructed and the four remaining girls will have to stay in the more secure
tanked up enclosure. Regular inspections of the run are essential from now on to make sure Mr Fox is kept at bay.
The PM programme on BBC Radio Four ran a 'Sounds of Summer 'feature, each day playing a typical sound that
would remind you of summer. Guess who got voted by listeners to feature?! You can read the PM blog about the girls here.
Audio of the programme will be added here shortly.
The four girls ( I should call them 'ladies' now I guess) are keeping well. They are delivering less eggs
than the first couple of years, but still laying. Between the four of them we get a couple of eggs per day, more in the Springtime
of course, but we expect this to drop off. And thoughts turn to what next? The four we have now will live out the fullness
of their lives with us, but we're going to have to consider some new recruits before too long. Keeping them apart might be
a really good idea! Below you can keep a 'chickens eye view' on the ladies.
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