Put your hands together and give a big welcome to ‘The Decibels’! Our 4 very posh new chickens. We’ve named them ‘The Decibels’ not because they make a lot of noise, but because the breed is called ‘Daisy Belle' and with my Dutch accent it sounded as though I was saying ‘decibel’. And, they make a lot of noise, too…

A big welcome to ‘The Decibels’
May 2021

They arrived mid-April to provide us with eggs, since ‘The Club’ aka Helga, Hetty, Hester and Hank the Tank are not laying that many anymore. They’re past it now. ‘The Club’ are rescue chickens, who were almost 2 years old when we got them last year and although they are lovely, their egg laying days are behind them! That’s okay, they deserve a quiet life now, they’ve earned it. Slight problem though… my husband and I still like to enjoy an egg or two with our Sunday breakfast!

‘The Decibels’ are black hens, around 14 weeks old and it will take a few more weeks before they start laying (at the time of publishing, they started laying miniature eggs!).

In the meantime, ‘The Club’ needs to accept the new ones into the flock, which has proved to be a bit of a problem. Let’s just say it is called the ‘pecking order’ for a reason! Our job is to make sure that the new ones are not pecked too severely and that all the chickens have access to their fair share of food and water. Some chasing and scrapping is normal until the new order is established. Still, it’s quite distressing to see (or as my studies insist I say, ‘observe’). Hank the Tank doesn’t need to chase the new arrivals, she just has to walk up to them and they cower immediately. I can just imagine them saying: "Hide! The Tank is coming!” Mind you, she’ll have her work cut out as one of the new ones is turning out to be massive and likely to grow bigger than Hank the Tank; we’ve aptly named her ‘The Rock’. We’ve had them for over a week now and things have settled down considerably. ‘The Decibels’ know their place and keep out of ‘The Club’s way. Mind you, last night Hank ‘the Tank’ was lying in wait, ready to ambush any poor unsuspecting Decibel who dared want to roost. So we had to intervene, and gently push Hank away in order to keep the hatch free. This way ‘The Decibels’ could enter the coop safely and were able to settle down for the night too.

We have fenced off an area in the fields next to our house, and dubbed it ‘the Arena’, for them to go out and explore. This hasn’t stopped Helga (the original ‘Explorer’, move over Dora!) from wandering off. Again. From the very first day, she somehow managed to escape, we don’t know how. But she’s usually back just before bedtime, clever girl. She’s now established a morning routine: get out of the coop as quickly as possible, bully some of the new chickens, eat a few morsels and then disappear for the day. It’s funny, chickens normally live in groups, but occasionally you do get a chicken that prefers to be on her own. A ‘loner’ if you like. Our neighbours used to have one too. Some people prefer to be on their own, and I have heard of ‘lone wolves’ before, so I suppose ‘lone chickens’ could be a thing?

Growing is in full swing. Thanks to the brilliant spell of weather we’ve had recently I’ve been out and about in the garden and been able to completely catch up with sowing and growing plants. And getting a little extra Vitamin D in the process. Still can’t plant any tender vegetables outside just yet as there is still a chance of frost.

For my biology studies I’ve had to do an investigation into pollinator activity, so I have been counting the number of bumblebees visiting my heather plants during April. Growing for nature certainly pays off, because I spotted 7 different species of bumblebees! One of which can only be correctly identified by microscopic analysis, which, of course, I don’t have the equipment for. Never mind, it just goes to show that gardening for wildlife (without using pesticides and with plenty of wild areas) is a truly rewarding experience!

And... I have finally seen a smooth newt! They are meant to be very common, but despite us having had a pond for 8 years, I’d never clapped eyes on one. Until now. And what a handsome chap she is I’m sure you’ll agree. A cute newt!

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