Last year in May we took 6 hens from the Nuthouse Hen Rescue in Moira. One of them died recently, but the other 5 are really healthy happy hens and they have been joined by George the rooster. His name was kind of an accident as I don’t normally name my chickens. As we were driving home with him it was starting to get dark. So I turned to my wife, saying she could give me a hand putting him into the hen house by holding a torch. “George?” – she asked. “Well you can call him George if you like.”
Anyway, for the first time since we got them, egg production seemed to have slowed somewhat in the last couple of weeks and finally even stopped. The hen lady reckoned they’d probably get ready for some moulting, but we thought, there was plenty of room for some more hens, so we decided to adopt 3 more battered ex-battery hens. We picked them upon Monday and chaos ensued soon after. I put them in the enclosure around the chicken shed where they could feel safe as they were pretty traumatised after their second move in 3 days and their first experience of the great outdoors.
Unfortunately our farmer neighbour decided to get his big machinery out that day and cut the hedges, including his side of our hedge. Illegally as it turns out as no hedge cutting should be carried out between the 1st May and 31st August. Ok, he was only 3 days early, but we like to keep our hedge wild to encourage wildlife. As he also sprays herbicides right up to our border and along the stream, I shall make a complaint. But that’s another point all together and I’ll rant about that another time. Suffice to say that the big noise completely spooked the new arrivals. While I was trying to calm them and encourage them to take some food and drink an unexpected guest arrived at the front door. As a result I forgot to shut the gate to the enclosure and our dog, Eddie the Beagle decided to say hello to the newbies. Next thing all 3 of them had disappeared.
Worried that they didn’t know their way home yet I started looking for them everywhere. The first one I found between the fence and the stream in some undergrowth and she clearly was trapped. So I actually had to cut a hole in the fence to let her back in. The next one was spotted glucking in front of the main shed and looking slightly lost and distressed, so I shepherded her back. The last one the aforementioned beagle found inside the shed/workshop under the workbench. Finally we got them all to go to bed last night with the other chickens.
This morning as I let them out the 3 newbies didn’t want to come out and just huddled frightened in a corner.
So I had to coax them out to discover the big wide world around them. I checked on them every hour or so and often I found them back indoors. The real world seems still a bit overwhelming to them. But finally they started to forage around the greens a bit, although they did stay together and so far haven’t socialised with the established lot.
They haven’t eaten or drunk much yet, but they have already given us a couple of eggs. The first few days are going to critical, so I hope they’ll pull through. I’ll keep you updated.
If you are interested in having some hens, and they really are great fun to have, do consider rescuing hens from battery farms. Here’s a wee video on their work:
In other news we harvested the first accidental potatoes (i.e. potatoes I didn’t actually plant)
…and the swallows reared another brood successfully in our shed and they have flown the nest.