Remember how we had 2 broody hens sitting on eggs and that another one had disappeared and how we couldn’t find her.

Baby chick madness!
August 2023

Well, the 2 broodies each hatched 3 eggs mid July and the missing one came back home on a Tuesday with 7 (!) chicks clucking at her heels!

She must have written in her diary that both I and JP would be home on Tuesdays and that that was the best day to return home. I was going to give the existing flock some leftover bread when I spotted a bit of commotion near the hen house; Harvey and several other flock members were intrigued by this growling monster sitting on the drive with 7 frightened little heads sticking out from under her. I then quickly had to herd the brood to the safety of the coop while making sure that the others couldn’t get to the chicks. This must have been some sight; me keeping two flocks from attacking each other.

I’ve got to say: well done to Bib Vicious, sitting on a clutch of eggs out in the rain and wind and fighting off feral cats for 3 weeks, then returning home by crossing a single track road, avoiding the postie’s and several Scottish Water vans, warding off large dogs and several cats and coming back on the only day we were home ourselves.

We now are the ‘parents’ of 13 (!) chicks which, I’ve got to admit, wasn’t entirely planned.

She is named Bib Vicious, because well, she is vicious, like really, really vicious!
She attacked me when I had to rescue one of her babies, I even had to put my arm in front of my face as she was going for my eyes and she also attacked JP when he was putting food down and now she also attacks the other moms.  JP had to behave like Harvey (the cockerel) by separating the fighting mothers and giving them a quick tap on the head. This seems to do the trick as all of them have an understanding who is boss. She runs a tight ship and is the strictest to her babies with them not making a complete mess of their run, a bit like the nanny from the The Sound of Music film, but sometimes the chicks misbehave and use the food bowl as platform! They are cute though and have very mixed colours: we’ve got 7 white ones, 4 Harvey style and 2 black ones. What’s funny is that Bib Vicious came back with 3 white chicks whereas she is black, so a white hen had secretly been laying her eggs in Bib Vicious’s nest, so she didn’t have to do the brooding. Clever girl!
Here is a one minute Youtube video of the little ones:

On the rest of the garden front; we were lucky enough to purchase a bit of land adjacent to our existing garden so that we now have extended it to 1 acre (from ¼ acre before). We are very excited about what to do with it and have multiple plans, like creating a bigger compost heap nearer the vegetable beds, two big areas for two flocks of chickens (I’ve got to find space for the new arrivals!), at least two areas where I can conduct my experiments (yes!) and planting lots of (fruit) trees, shrubs and a wildlife hedge.

Tree saplings are very expensive to buy and although I’ve got some myself waiting to be planted out, these won’t be nowhere near enough to create woodland, so if anyone has any native tree saplings waiting to find a good home you are welcome to plant them out in our new area. I’m thinking of organising a ‘plant-your-tree’ afternoon late October as this is the best time of the year to plant trees. So keep an eye out for October’s newsletter!
The planting of trees, shrubs and hedges already transformed the garden massively and the ecosystem changed with it: sparrows had been absent from our part of Glendevon for a long, long time, but around 3 years ago a few arrived and us and our neighbours were delighted to hear the cheerful chirping of sparrows once again. They have been very successful in multiplying in those three years and now seem to have taken over the garden; I once counted at least 13 sitting in or around the feeder with more in the hedges at the back!
Sparrows are in serious decline all over the UK, so to buck the trend and see an increase in sparrow numbers lifts my heart and reminds me why I am gardening with nature in mind.