Favourite breed – posh bird or ex-bat?
I have about 30 laying hens and 3 cockerels. They include ex-bats and a mixture of
breeds including Light Sussex, Wyandotte and I have one remaining Dorking - my
favourite breed. When we lived in Suffolk I kept ex-bats and I adopted 15 more
ex-bats in March this year from the British Hen Welfare Trust - they have settled in
really well and are so friendly, always wanting some fuss.
My Uncle Mike lived in Devon and my family is Cornish but I didn’t take an interest
until we moved out to Suffolk and I got 4 battery hens about 14 years ago. It was
the battery hens that got me into animals – they are so easy to look after and an
easy way in to keeping animals. Now we keep pigs. 200 sheep graze on our land
and we took on some lambs in Spring. We also have turkeys at certain times of the
year, and have 6 dogs, 6 cats and a tortoise!
Naming hens – sensible or silly?
I have named some of my hens... Ralph is my dearly loved cockerel. Yolko was one
of my battery hens and my son’s hen is called Yellow Legs.
Keeping hens – Caroline’s keenness or the children’s choice?
We had hens before we had children! The ex-battery hens came first! We all really
really love our hens - but love their eggs too! We are always saying “Aren’t these
eggs delicious?” We are obsessed with our hens and their outlay.
Hen housing – good wood or plastic fantastic?
We have a home-built wooden hen house made out of timber. When I first started
keeping hens, I had a glamorous posh hexagonal one with a spire! But I’ve got so
many now and need proper, utilitarian housing. The hens have a massive, enclosed
area with big hen houses. They’re allowed to run about and the dogs know to
leave them alone. But it gets very foxy round here in cold weather and then I have
to keep them in the enclosure.
The weekend coop clean – yours truly or him indoors?
My husband Sam cleans the coop at the weekend and sometimes it’s Antony, who
helps us on the 40 acre farm. But the big spring clean and delousing is my job and I
occasionally go in there in the week and give it a freshen up. The children don’t
do it which is a great shame – so it’s mostly the men!
Hens Behaving Badly
Is your garden – hen-free or hen-pecked?
The hens like to be out and about but I grow my own veg so I try to keep them out
of the vegetable area – with a greater or lesser degree of success! Most of the time
they’re up on the hill which is fox-free and chicken wired.
Favourite eggy brekkie – full English or dainty egg soldiers..?
That’s a pretty hard question for me because I
eggs and we eat eggs every
day in this household. My 9 year old son makes a brilliant omelette and my
husband Sam makes his own ice-cream and custard. We all love pancakes and
boiled eggs and soldiers. We often eat our own bacon with our own eggs and
home grown tomatoes – and feel very proud when we do that! I’m a big
scrambled eggs fan. But for me, poached egg on toast is by far the best meal in
the world ever! Forget quail’s eggs and caviar – poached egg on toast would be
my last meal.