New hens on the block
Let’s start with some great news! JP and I are the proud owners of 5 more chickens!
Mid-April we got the opportunity to pick up 5 chickens from a farm in Perthshire, and last week, a little later that we had anticipated, we brought them home. Now, I know what you’re thinking: ”that’s not essential travel!”, and you’d be right. But we had permission from Police Scotland to save these chickens as long as we maintained the 2 m distance from other people, which is becoming second nature now.
Their names are:
Hannah, 2nd in command
Hank the Tank
And of course Tufty ‘el rufty’ is also now part of the Club.
It’s maybe a wee bit too early to tell, but it seems like Captain Helga is going to be a handful, just like the dear departed ‘The Hooligan’. Call it a hunch, a gut feeling, but I’m going to have my hands full with this one, I can just feel it! She was the first one of our new brood to venture out of the carrier when we got home from the farm. And the first thing she decided to do was make a run for it! Flapping around the garden looking for an escape route! This big white bird is a bold one, that’s for sure; even the neighbours’ dog doesn’t really bother her. After less than a week, she is practically eating out of my hand!
For those of you who are new to the newsletter; ‘The Hooligan’ was an ill tempered, ‘foul’ mouthed hen we shared many adventures with a few years ago. She was quite a character, very loud, and generally dominated the other chickens we had at the time. She even featured in the book I wrote last year about the chickens and my garden. Her exploits meant she quickly became the star of the newsletter and I dubbed her ‘Stirling’s most famous chicken’!
‘Hannah 2nd in command’, is the next one in the pecking order and only when ‘Captain Helga’ is preoccupied by, say, laying an egg, does she become the group leader. Yes, chickens all have their different ranks, too!
‘Hank the Tank’ got her name because she is a rather big, strong, robust brown hen compared to the other brown hens. The other two brown hens are ‘Scruffy Hester’ and ‘Scary Hetty’, who has a creepy, unnerving look in her eyes!
Let’s not forget about poor old Tufty though; she’s still with us! Tufty has been our one and only hen for quite some time, but she’s not exactly lonely. During the day she hangs out with her posh friends - our neighbours’ fancy looking chickens from across the road. Tufty is a dear. She has a healthy, shiny coat of black feathers and really is no trouble. Not sure if the same can be said of the new bunch!
For the moment she has to stay in the outdoor run along with the slightly shabby looking new lot and I can tell you, she isn’t best pleased! I’m sure she’ll get over it! On the first day she kept moaning about the ‘riff raff’ running around ‘her’ place; these smelly, scruffy strangers who kept stealing ‘her’ food. But she seems to have come around now because she’s started to mingle with them a bit more. She soon lets them know if they get too close by pecking at them.
It’s early days. In a few weeks time they will be allowed to roam in the fields surrounding us and it will be interesting to see if Tufty will return to her posh friends over the road, or stay with the ‘riff raff’! Find out in next month’s newsletter!
All is going well in the garden too. We’ve had some brilliant weather, of course, but the heavy rain we had was certainly needed too. I’ve still got my tender vegetables (like courgettes and pumpkins) in the greenhouse, but I’ll move them outside sometime in June. I like experimenting with growing grains and this year, along with my usual 1 m2 of wheat and oats, I now also have 1 m2 of rye. It’s really just the green manure I sowed last autumn of winter rye, but it has produced some heads, so I am planning to harvest these and feed them to the chickens. Plus, I think grains look really pretty in the garden. I’ve also sowed poppy seeds, which is something else that’s new this year. These will eventually produce the actual edible black poppy seeds. So far they have successfully germinated and I will keep you up-to-date on their progress.