… lay a little egg for me.
Yes, dear readers, the chickens have landed! As I write, our four feathered friends are roosting in their new home in the garden of Banceithin.
The poultry adventure began with a journey to Happy Hens poultry farm in the aptly named village of Ffarmers. This was where we met Brenda, who patiently answered all of our naive poultry keeping questions and introduced Dave to her chicken slaughtering stunner, funnel and tree (head) lopping shears. I tried not to stare at the feather and blood gummed blades and put on my best “I’m not fazed by the concept of killing my own food” face. I think she was fooled. We handed over £50 smackers and Brenda bid farewell to us and a blanket covered cage containing four point of lay pullets. Suddenly we were responsible for four new lives and Brenda hadn’t given us the instruction manual.
Please welcome to the blog, Aphrodite and Athena, a pair of feisty Rhode Island Reds, and Hera and Hestia, the beautiful Welsummers. It’s only fitting that chickens living in a Kotetsi built by Greek labour (see blog entry 3 November 2009) should be named after the Greek goddesses of love, wisdom, marriage and the home.
As soon as the girls were installed in their run the fox-proofing was put to the test by the endlessly curious Stevie and Nessa. Stevie patrolled the perimeter and having failed to find a way in wandered off to investigate the inside of an empty feed bag instead, returning later to do a poo by the fence. Nessa’s attempt at chicken intimidation was no more successful than Stevie’s and although crying at the kitchen door usually has an “open sesame” effect, no one was falling for the crying at the chicken run gate trick. As for Charlie, he couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed.
The first test of our poultry keeping skills came as dusk fell. According to the books, chickens instinctively head for home as the sky darkens. According to reality, they do no such thing. Was it the home made ramp putting them off? Or the smell of fresh wood shavings? Perhaps the hen house architecture wasn’t to their liking and the girls wouldn’t be seen dead in an orange chalet propped up on brieze blocks. Knowing we have a fox in the area we couldn’t wait any longer as by now the sun was sinking fast. Herding them towards the house didn’t work, chasing them round the trees didn’t work, clapping and clucking didn’t work. It was going to have to get physical. My limp wristed girly attempt at chicken capture was laughable. Dave’s manly lunge produced much wing flapping but he successfully bundled Athena into the house and slammed the door shut on her feathered behind. One down, three to go. Thankfully the gods (Greek or otherwise) were smiling on us and we were all saved from further indignity. The clucking of one hen from inside the house acted like a signal to the others and suddenly Aphrodite, Hera and Hestia were forming an orderly queue up the ramp. As the last tail feather disappeared into the pop hole, the door was dropped and all were safely inside for their first night at Banceithin. Anyone fancy an egg for breakfast?