After the chickens rampage through our garden this winter, it’s time to make up the balance of the damage they have done and I think I’ve got a name for them: “Hen and co. for all your demolition works”.

Hen and co. for all your demolition works
March 2023

My husband and I always take a stroll on Sunday morning around the garden to see how the plants are growing and I can tell you that the garden looks like a building site (just like next door, the shop I mean, not our neighbours). The majority of the paths are unrecognisable, but at least they loosened the moss and hopefully got rid of some of the pests too.

Now that Harvey has turned into a fully grown rooster (apparently a ‘cockerel’ is a not yet fully mature male chicken, whereas a ‘rooster’ is, I didn’t know this either) we can gage his character. So far it seems good news and Harvey seems to be a very gentle, non-aggressive rooster. You see, certain breeds can produce more aggressive roosters than other breeds. The Cream Legbar, Harvey’s breed, has a friendly temperament and so do the Light Sussex (our white hens), so should we be lucky enough to get chicks, they are sure to be super docile.

Since I am really interested in interactions between animals I’ve been watching Harvey’s behaviour and his interactions with ‘his’ hens and he is actually really caring!

His main job is to keep an eye out for any predators who may threaten his girls, so to do this he crows (a lot!) while standing on any sort of elevation (rock, weed pile, fence). He is like a sentinel ready to give an alarm and chase away the predator, while the girls happily and carefree scratch around to find food
(if you’re interested: there is a really cool video on Youtube of a rooster chasing away a hawk, both survive, but it is pretty spectacular).
One of our cats wanted to frighten a hen out of playfulness, but of course the hen shrieked and Harvey was immediately alarmed and ready to chase off the insolent creature. Luckily for the cat that Harvey was a few metres away, or he would have chased him around the garden.

Then his second job is to make sure that none of the hens go hungry or fight with each other. I sometimes give the hens cat food the cats didn’t want and I saw Harvey pick up a morsel from the bowl and give it to a hen! I kid you not! It was the cutest thing. He makes this funny noise when he finds something tasty and tries to direct the nearest hen to whatever he found. He also makes this noise when he sees me or JP; we have spoiled him too much, so he thinks there is always treats when we are around. Then he makes sure there are no quarrels between the hens, so when there is a kerfuffle he’ll go and see what’s happening. Of course one of the other jobs he has to do is to fertilise eggs and even in this respect he is gentler than other roosters (according to the internet) and the girls don’t seem to mind when they are briefly disturbed; they just shake their feathers and get on with whatever they were doing.

I’ve made a wee video (only 1 minute) of Harvey as chick and Harvey as sentinel:

Mid February was pretty windy and we’ve had gusts of over 50 mph, thankfully we only lost 1 slate off the roof (although a few are now hanging on by their teeth, so we’ll probably have to do some repairs come Spring). Not much snow though, well none at all at the time of writing and according to the Metoffice, there is no snow forecast either. This will be the first February since we moved to Glendevon without snow, scary thought that.

It does mean however, that the ground is not as cold as it usually is and I may be able to start sowing a few weeks earlier. Because of a fungal disease which affects my onions, I am trying to sow onion seeds, rather than onion sets which are basically little onions, and hope that this will give me stronger onions. I am trying a few varieties to see which ones are best resistant to this disease.

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