Saturday, 19 July 2014

Chickens

I am new to the world of chicken keeping.  I'm not sure really why I wanted to have them but I suspect it taps into my dream of having a smallholding where I could keep my horse and pigs (there's no chance of ever having a horse or pigs so chickens seemed the closest farmy type creature that I could have... I know, go figure).  
Eggs are not cheap to buy, not if you buy ones where the hens have actually had the opportunity of having a decent - if short- life where they have space to move around and can experience the sun on their backs and dust baths.  I have discovered that chickens REALLY love a dust bath and they are very funny to watch as they try to roll over and then hold their wings out to catch some rays.  It's a win win situation when both parties are amused. At least I think the hens are amused.  I'm not great at reading human faces, less so with chicken ones.
The eggs my hens produce however, must be the most expensive known to mankind.  If I factor in the corn, pellets, treats, wormer, calcium supplement, liquid vitamins, purple spray for when they peck each other, wound powder for when they get their feet stuck in a door (...!), anti peck spray for the poor girl who is picked upon, sawdust and bedding, Eglu hen house and run (with an additional 2 metres as it looked too small), each egg must be worth about £10.  In addition to this, the eggs they lay are sometimes shell-less (hence the calcium supplement) so you either find something that looks as though it is the result of a science experiment or a squashed flat blob that once had the audacity to think it was an egg AND they go through periods when they don't lay any eggs so you end up buying them from the shop anyway.
In addition to this, hens REALLY love flower petals.  Let's get this straight, they don't actually eat them, no, because that would allow me to believe that destroying the garden was for a worthwhile, dietary purpose.  What they actually do is to take the most beautiful blooms, shred them and then leave them in a triumphant pile while they move on to further destruction.  The garden now looks as though I'm cultivating chicken wire as this is wrapped around anything (like the wildflower patch and veg patch) that needs to be not eaten.  It's an interesting look, not out of place in a Chelsea conceptual garden.  However, I think that there would be less chicken poo at Chelsea.
Keeping pets is brilliant for children and teaches them so much. It is also fun for adults.  I just need to remember that the next time I go into the garden with bare feet and stand in something squelchy.

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