We lost a hen recently, one of my favourites, a Bovan Nera named ‘Marley’ – her sister, ‘Bob’ died a few weeks ago as well. Such a lovely, sweet nature, she was the only hen that stood by Amber while she was recovering from a broken leg and didn’t pick on her. When broody, she would hop up onto the sofa and settle down on The Boys’ laps waiting to be stroked.
I miss her calming presence and gentle ‘clucking’ as she wandered in and out of the house.
As you may have noticed, The Girls play a big part in our lives so I thought you might like to know a bit more about them.
If not, just scroll down the page to the sewing and crochet:)
There are only two hens remaining from the original flock of six, ‘Ginger’, a Columbian Blacktail, and the characterful ‘Amber’, an Amber Star, whose image has graced many a blog post and who is now fully recovered and integrated back into the flock.
We raised Cock, Buzz and Woody from eggs that our hens hatched, but we lost Buzz to the fox after she ventured into his domain. Generally we don’t have a problem with foxes because, although they are just yards away in the fields most days, they are happy to feast on the never ending supply of rabbits rather than risk getting shot by trying to steal one of The Girls!
Spot, Bluebell, Bob and Marley were all found dead in the nest box at different times with no obvious signs of injury. However, Cock is twice the size of The Girls and he has these lethal weapons.
Three inch long spurs.
Being an amorous youngster, he is not very delicate with his ladies and we suspect that it was one of these daggers that broke Amber’s leg back in the Summer. He may also have accidentally crushed the others in the nest box overnight too, which would account for the sudden nature of their demise.
Having said all that, he keeps the flock from squabbling most of the time and is a brilliant guard ‘dog’, crowing at any poor unsuspecting delivery person who dares to open the five bar gate at the end of the driveway.
Being a country girl born and bred, his thunderous “Cock-a-doodle-do!” at five am every morning is reassuring rather than annoying. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when Cock let out his his first strangled half-crow at six months old as he was feeding them corn, the first time we were certain he was a cockerel and not a hen. The tell-tale huge wattle and comb take up to a year to develop fully and at that point he looked just like the others.
There’s no mistaking him for a hen now though!
Here’s ‘Woody’, hatched with Cock and Buzz.
A quiet hen who loves blackberries and will jump quite high to reach the juiciest ones!
Anyway, with a reduced flock of just four we decided it was the right time to replenish the numbers. After a failed attempt to hatch three eggs under a broody hen (they kept getting broken) we returned to the farm where we purchased the original six and bought four more point-of-lay hens.
You need to introduce new girls to the flock with care and in at least pairs as they will automatically get hen-pecked by the senior birds in a bid to teach them the pecking order. And yes, that’s where those phrases come from!
Do you want to meet them?
No, we haven’t got any less obvious with our name choices!
Here’s ‘Star’, a Sussex Star, looking a little grubbier than usual.
‘Bluebell’, a, erm, Blue Belle.
‘Chestnut’, a Chalk Hill, Chestnut Ranger.
Finally, meet ‘Snow White’, a White Leghorn.
The newbies are still settling in and they haven’t quite got the hang of roosting in the coop at night yet. We usually find them on top of the run at dusk but, several times, have found Blue Belle asleep on top of the rotary washing line! Luckily, when they’re dozy they’re really easy just to scoop up and safely relocate on the perch with the older hens.
We still find the odd egg laid randomly around the garden and under the trampoline, but most days they’re in the nest box now.
Chestnut lays dark brown eggs – don’t they look pretty with all the others in the bucket?
It’s nice to see a decent sized flock free ranging again! Even the newbies regularly come into the house for a ‘chat’ and a few crumbs of whatever I can find to give them. We have four sets of French windows downstairs most of which are permanently open from April to September so The Girls are used to popping in and out at leisure. Now the air has chilled somewhat, the doors are closed and they don’t come in as often, but opportunist Amber will squeeze through the tiniest gap in a door left ajar and plonk herself down firmly with the dogs in front of a roaring fire!
Hens – if you haven’t got any yet, GET SOME!
Talking of a roaring fire, you may remember that a while ago I found this lovely old fire screen in a charity shop for a few pounds and it has been prettily screening the empty grate all Summer. I shall miss seeing it over the Winter, but logs crackling are a fair substitute!
An English cottage garden scene hand embroidered onto linen – isn’t it beautiful?
I used to do a lot of embroidery and cross stitch and still dabble now and again. Years ago, circa 1987-88, I spent weeks labouring over these two ladies as a Christmas gift to my mother. She has since downsized and they were packed away for over fifteen years before she offered them back to me.
Each lady is about ten inches in height so they’re pretty sizeable. I just need to repair the back of the frames and then I think I might hang them in our bedroom. What do you think? The colours are still as vibrant as the day they were finished nearly thirty years ago – testament to being kept behind glass out of direct sunlight, I suppose.
I’m almost three quarters of the way through my Minerva Crafts project for October – good job I started back in July, but I knew I’d need three months to complete the WHOLE book!
I’ve already got my sights set on another glorious book to work through cover to cover – “Let’s Go Camping” by Kate Bruning.
You have to check out the caravan – it’s even got crocheted bunk beds!
In fact, I may have to go right to Amazon now and order myself a copy because my heart is fluttering just looking at it again.
What’s on your needles right now?