Hen names – sensible or silly?
I have only really ever named our cockerels. The first was called Roger, a very
handsome chap. And our current cockerel was named by my 5-year old godson,
who called him Peck-Peck, so of course he’s now known as Gregory.
Keeping hens – your passion or a means to an end?
When we moved out of London 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to start keeping
animals. Once we’d found our RSPCA rescue dog, Badger, hens seemed to be
the next obvious step to take. We just love being able to eat fresh, healthy eggs
from happy free ranging birds that we know are well cared for. It’s become a
Hen housing – good wood or plastic fantastic?
We inherited our first hen house from the people we bought our house from. It was
a slightly ramshackle affair on rusty wheels, but it served the purpose. However,
when we tried to move it to a new spot, it fell apart, and turned out to be full of
red mite, so it ended up on the bonfire. Our next stage was to buy a selection of
small wooden hen houses, but we made sure to keep them clear of the dreaded
mite. That worked well enough, but now we find it easier to keep the birds in a
much larger hut, still wooden, but it’s basically a garden shed bought cheaply off
the internet. My husband Ludo set about adapting it for the hens with his tool kit
and made some removable perches (handy for mucking out) and a very nifty
sliding door. Now the whole cleaning process is much easier and the hens are
very happy.
The weekend coop clean – yours truly or him indoors?
Almost always me – strangely I actually quite enjoy doing the mucking out!
Although when I’m away filming of course it’s my husband who has to do it – I’m
not sure he enjoys it quite so much.
Your precious garden – hen-free or hen-pecked?
We had an experiment with totally free range hens, which I loved. It was fabulous
to see the birds strutting their stuff all over the garden, and mixing with our pigs
and sheep in the paddocks. However, when they found the flower beds, I’m
afraid they caused absolute mayhem – new plants pulled out of the ground and
piles of earth scratched out of the beds onto the lawn. I’m afraid that’s when they
had to have their freedom curtailed, but it’s not bad - they still get to wander
around their own special paddock - about quarter of an acre with lots of trees
and a duck pond.
Favourite eggy brekkie – full English or dainty egg soldiers?..
I’ve never been one for a full English – ‘a full heart attack’ breakfast that all the
camera crews I work with seem to love so much. I adore cooking, but when it
comes to eggs my husband Ludo is in charge – his scrambled eggs on toast with
Marmite is my all-time favourite.
Favourite breed – posh bird or ex-bat?
When I first decided to get some chickens, it was a bit of an experiment, so I tried
a wide range of birds, to see which did best on our Welsh hillside, which ones laid
which colour and sized eggs and so on. So we have Light Sussex, Araucana,
Welsummer, Leghorn and a few others I can’t always identify. Together with my
ex-bats my little flock of 20 are now all very happy together.