The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Five young maiden hens have joined our flock

 

Zebedee, Brittany, Vienna, Thumper and Beatyl and others

Zebedee, Brittany, Vienna, Thumper and Beatyl and others

S has been chivvying me for some time about getting more hens. The demise of Carol finally left us with just two laying hens. And service on the egg laying front has been very intermittent this year. We had the space to restock for ages and finally I decided to go for it. 

So yesterday The Chicken Lady, S and I ate an enormous, delicious, waist expanding lunch. Then we piled into their car and shot off with a heavy wooden crate in the boot and hats at the ready as it was raining. Our destination was Cambridge Poultry. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this company. They stock a large range of free range point of lay hens at a good price.

On arrival it was clear that the Cambridge Poultry birds were happy and well nurtured. The hens were happy to be picked up and examined. I quickly chose five beautiful hens whilst TCL and S carefully chose birds with particular colourings and detail. They used to breed award winning chickens after all!

Of course my new girls were a bit jumpy when they were introduced to the home team in the chicken run. Within a few minutes there were two camps – the old retainers and the five nervous maidens. The chicken run is long – roughly 30’- with places to hide. So there’s room to escape nasty nips and frights. It was stand off.

Brittany - beaches and sand not Spears

Brittany - beaches and sand not Spears

Lets look at the staus quo before the arrival of the new stock. At the moment, Zebedee (slinky black Leghorn) is head hen of the pecking order, followed by Beatyl the diminutive Golden Seabright cockerel. Once step down the ladder is Hope the pretty Laced Winged Wyandotte bantam and on the lowest rung of the ladder is our eight year old hybrid ginger hen – Thumper. Her egg laying was brilliant for three years and then she swiftly hung up her laying gloves. She will have a home until she goes to the great meadow in the sky. She is very pretty – as the years have rushed by her feathers have turned from ginger to apricot.

Finally there is Baby – such a special chicken in my book. Our tiny brown Leghorn bantam is alive and well and as he lives apart from the rest of the flock his pecking order days are long gone. Thank goodness.

Thumper was clearly thrilled when the new girls arrived as, for the first time in months, she was allowed to join Zebedee’s coterie.

Paris and Venetia

Paris and Venetia

Today she sunbathed with them on the roof of the chicken house – stretching out her legs and finally able to relax and close her eyes against the sun. Whilst the new girls were hunched in the Ken Doherty Day Centre – looking just like ‘new girls’ the world over.

Last night I crept down to the run after dark and found the new girls in the run. Three were roosting on the top of the Emerald Castle. The other two were hiding in a gap beside the Day Centre – clearly very rattled.

I quickly put them into the big girls’ dorm at the top of the chicken house. Nightime is a good time to introduce new birds to the sleeping quarters as the older flock are sleepy and not in combat mode.

This evening I discovered that one had made her way up the nesting box and the others were dithering about in the Day Centre. The new hens are surprisingly tame and quite easy to catch. I’m thrilled with them.

Florence - I'm worried by the one eyed beast that you call a camera

Florence - I'm worried by the one eyed beast that you call a camera

Now I’d like to introduce them individually to you. Florence and Venetia are Neras – a Rhode Island Red/Barred Plymouth Rock cross that will lay brown eggs. Paris is a white Leghorn – she will lay white eggs and like Zebedee is a bit flighty and very beautiful. Brittany – think French beaches and pancakes rather than Spears – is a Goldline. She will lay very well like Thumper. She’s a very pretty brown hen and there’s something about brown hens that makes my heart turn over. Finally we have Vienna – A Cambridge Blue – anAndalusian/Barred Plymouth Rock cross. Vienna is bigger than the rest and had the nouse to find her bedroom this evening. I’m not sure what colour that her eggs will be – I’m guessing creamy brown!

So now we have 10 birds in our bijou flock. I’ve noticed that the Neras spend most of their time together. Safety in numbers. I’m going to monitor the new girls’ progress over the next few days and might very well return to buy a companion for the other three birds if I feel that they need a friend of the same breed.

Meanwhile we are in the happy expectation of lots of eggs in the future.


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17 Comments

  1. James P

    A Cambridge Blue, eh? It would be confusing if she was the Cox…

    Delighted to read about your chickens, as we have just acquired some point-of-lay Warrens (hybrids) and I was very encouraged to read that Thumper is such a great age. We were told that hybrids are rather short-lived, but perhaps that’s just the ones who are battery-farmed, poor things. I must say that although I never approved of the practice, it’s only when you have the birds and realise how sociable and intelligent they are that you fully appreciate the inhumanity of factory farming.

    Anyway, we are looking forward to reading more about your brood, and may even get round to writing about ours. Love your names, too – ours are all G’s so far: Gertie, Ginger, Genevieve and Geraldine. Daft or what? 🙂

  2. Hilariously, my mobile service won’t let me access Cambridge Poultry’s website due to parental controls. A) I am 49 and B) I think they have misunderstood the phrase “point of lay!”

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi All me back again

    Hello Amy

    Hoping the new pullets will be laying by Easter!

    Hi Danast

    Fingers crossed :0)

    Hello Hattie

    We love eggs. Friatta, souflee omlette, just plain hard boiled or baked eggs are all wonderfull!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Terrier

    Eggs and some hen fun is what we are after!

    Hello Michelle

    Yes I’d love new chicken posts too. ATM they are minding themselves very quietly..

    Hi Paula

    Thanks. I reckon that they have potential 🙂

    Hello Marion

    No Zebedee is not butch in any way. there was a slight naming mix up when she hatched (my fault) and she was named Zebedee. She is now named Zebedee, Queen Zee. A beautiful yet somewhat aggressive leader.

    Good to hear your wartime memories. I reckon that it’s only a matter of time that we consider raising chickens for the table. We’ve already eaten two and they were delicious.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Thank you for all your comments. I’m still battling with the deamon four that refuse to go up to roost at night. They cluster together in a far corner of the Ken Dogherty Day Centre and I feel a bit of a pig moving them into the warm. Crazy!

    However, I do like the fact that when they calm down I can hold them in my arms and tickle their chests (chicken love)and then they cluck semi happily.

    Hi TCL Not really glam – just the places that I’ve visited in Europe and liked. Except Vienna – this is just a hark back to America. Fiona was an unheard of name, evryone heard my name as Vienna (far more romantic in the 1980’s). At least she is a bit older than the reat of the newbies and goes up to roost at dusk 😉

    Even chickens can stretch you!

  6. At last the chicken blog has been revived! I have missed it. So pleased you are delighted with your new hens.

  7. Congratulations on being featured in Amateur Gardening, and on the new chooks 🙂

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