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Alex Ashton's hens

An interview with Egg Club member Alex Ashton

If you’ve been rehoming from us for a while you’ll likely know all about our Egg Club. But if you’ve ever wondered what being a member involves, we’ve got this great interview with Alex to tell you more…

When did you start keeping chickens? 

I first started looking after hens when I was about 10 years old. We had a small holding at school and one of our teachers bred different poultry. I hated school but would even go at weekends to look after the hens, and I stopped eating chicken because of how attached I got to them. 

In September 2019, we got our first hens after a friend recommended getting rescues. We started off with just four hens but they’re seriously addictive! Four soon became eight and at the moment we’ve got 14. 

How long have you been an Egg Club member and why did you sign up?  

We signed up to Egg Club the following January [after getting the hens]. It seemed like a great way to help even more hens than the ones we were able to rehome.  

Who are your Egg Club ‘customers’? 

When I first started selling eggs for Egg Club it’d be to people at work but then Covid hit and a lot of my colleagues were working from home. This coincided with people panic buying staple goods so I started supplying people from our village who were struggling to get eggs elsewhere. We’ve now got a loyal band of customers and demand always outstrips supply. This isn’t helped by the fact that a few of our girls have had implants to stop them laying because they’d developed problems, but we’d much rather have happy, healthy hens than more eggs.  

On the days when they haven’t laid a single egg we do jokingly call them Freeloading Slackers but they don’t take it personally (we hope!) Our best customers pay well over the suggested donation price because I’ve told them about the work of the BHWT and they are happy to support the charity. They’re also really pleased with how good the eggs taste. It’s obvious that they’ve come from pampered hens! 

Can you share a few hentertaining stories with us?  

Since we’ve started keeping our own hens it’s reminded me what individual personalities they have. One of girls, Marge, (who’s sadly now gone to the big chicken coop in the sky) used to ambush my husband when he took a cup of tea and a biscuit out into the garden. She’d fly up onto the bench and snatch a bite out of the biscuit before he knew what was happening! 

We also had a girl called Doris who escaped most days and took herself off to the neighbour’s garden. They would bring her back in the afternoon. They claim that she never laid an egg for them but we’re sceptical about that! They seemed very keen to have her! 

Then there’s Mabel. She’d been ill and had had a few trips to the vets. We’d just got her back to full health when she went missing. We looked everywhere for her but there was no sign of her. Then my husband heard a feeble clucking noise coming from next door’s yard. He kept following the noise until he got to their disused well. He looked down and found Mabel stuck on a ledge. A set of ladders and some impromptu caving later, Mabel was freed. The well was rapidly covered over! 

At the moment Agnes is passing the time during Flockdown by dust bathing on a daily basis. She turns herself into a ghost chicken and then shakes out a cloud of dust when you step into the coop.  

They’re also very “helpful” when I’m gardening. They know that a spade or a trowel means a chance of worms being unearthed so they crowd round squabbling over who gets first dibs on each worm. Then there’s the wacky races run around the garden as they all try and steal the worm from whoever is carrying it! 

Finally, what do you love most about your hens and keeping chickens? 

Keeping hens isn’t quite as straightforward as throwing a bit of corn in their general direction a couple of times a day but owning them has so many rewards. They’re like little feathered therapists. Sitting in the garden with them, or in their coop when they’re on Flockdown, is so relaxing. Listening to them chatting away whilst they peck away at your feet takes the day’s care and worries away.  

Thanks for sharing with us Alex! 

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