chicken-and-egg - page 21

Chicken & Egg. Welfare and Food Together.
We love hearing why our supporters adore
their girls and in this piece we hear from
Susanna Gregory, who wrote the Matthew
Bartholomew series of mysteries set in
medieval Cambridge, and the Thomas
Chaloner adventures in Restoration
London. Simon Beaufort is the pseudonym
she and her husband, an award-winning
Cambridge historian, use for their joint
fiction projects. Here's what they told us…
We had always wanted to keep hens, but
our lifestyle, which involved spending a
couple months every year working in the
Antarctic, made it impossible. Then shortly
after we stopped working in the far South,
some friends phoned to say that they were
going to collect some hens and invited us
to pick some up at the same time. The
decision was made in an instant; we
hurried into town to buy essentials, and
the neighbours donated a bag of wood
shavings and some straw. The next
afternoon, Ma (named after a hen taken
on an Antartic Expedition), Ethel, and
Gertrude (named after our maternal
grandmothers), came to live with us.
We didn’t know it at the time, but they were
to change our lives.
At first, we thought the hens would just be
part of the garden scenery; pretty little things
Susanna Gregory and Simon Beaufort
The joys of
hen keeping
in their run, who would take a few minutes
each day to tend, and who would keep us
supplied with eggs. But we hadn’t reckoned
on their charming personalities. Within a
couple of days, they had gone from being
chickens to individuals, each with their own
character, behaviours, habits, and voices.
We began spending more and more time
with Ma, Ethel and Gertrude, getting to know
their individual likes, and dislikes. Their run
quickly transformed from a small attachment
to their house to a 20-square-metre area,
and finally to a quarter of an acre enclosed
by electric fencing containing all of their
favourite bits of the garden. This included
a row of leylandii, an unruly patch of
overgrown shrubs, and a fallen fir that clings
to life and provides a series of tunnels under
its branches, as well as an expanse of ‘lawn’.
Being with the Girls, as we like to call them,
allowed many of the stresses and strains of
modern living to disappear. Many years ago,
Susanna worked on a project that looked at
the benefits of having pets. The results were
unequivocal – people with pets tended to
score higher on the happiness scale.
The researchers put this down to three
things: getting a daily dose of fresh air,
the responsibility of seeing to the needs of
another living creature, and the satisfaction
of returned affection. It certainlyworked for us.
The girls on their favourite bench. L-R Food Bird, Ethel, Gertie, Ma, and Audrey
1...,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20 22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,...64
Powered by FlippingBook