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.
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.
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.
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.
Leave a reply