In spring 2011 we bought some new standard sized chickens from Cambridge Poultry in Botisham - this is the place to buy good hens locally. Ours are healthy, beautiful hens that lay well and are proving to be a good investment. They provide enough eggs for the two of us with more to spare for friends.
So why did we want more chickens this spring?
These Bottisham hens are a bit like the Stepford Wives. They are sweet natured and don’t display a lot of personality. They are ruled by Queen Zeb – the one remaining chicken from the batch that *Caroline hatched for us back in 2009. Zeb is a feisty leader of the pack and the Stepford wives defer totally to her.
We have two bantams – Hope and Beatyl the diminutive cockerel. Queen Zeb used to hang out with Beatyl until she put on a growth spurt and left him far behind. Hope is out on the edge of the flock – independent and strong willed.
We miss our old bantams. International superstar Mrs Boss and her loathed companion the sparkling Mrs Squeaky Clean. The latter spent so much time preening in the chicken house that The Chivcken Lady’s husband declared.
“I have never, ever seen Mrs Squeaky. Does she really exist?”
Well she was real. You can see her in all her glowing whiteness in back of the largest circle in the cover image on my Facebook page.
Bantams tend not to lay as regularly and consistently as standard hens. With the Stepford Wives diligently producing a good supply of eggs this wouldn’t be a problem for us. We now want companion chickens with strong personalities.
Unfortunately the hatching eggs that we bought on Ebay hung around for over seven days before they were popped under TCL’s broody hen. Hatching eggs, sent by post, need to rest for 24 hours before they are put under a broody hen. After this, with each day that passes the fertility of the hatching eggs decreases quite dramatically.
Out of six eggs one was rotten, three infertile and in the case of the final two the chicks died when trying to hatch out. I must admit we were all gutted. I couldn’t stop thinking about the chicks struggling in vain.
Then I got a message from Sue on Google+. She had five Pekin bantams that she’d happily give me! They hatched at Easter this year. I was thrilled – suddenly we had tenants for the pretty new chicken house and run. Mrs Boss and Mrs Squeaky were Pekin bantams too. Loads of personality to make up for poor performance on the egg laying stakes! I’m collecting the brood in early June and can’t wait to meet Sue and welcome the young chickens to the cottage.
*As well as raising chickens, Caroline makes wonderful jewellery. Well worth checking out!
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