Friday, 24 January 2014

Hens

We are about to get some new hens.   The youngest of our hens is four years old and some of them are as old as ten.   Goldie, my favourite, I bred myself at least ten years ago.   She is not the farmer's favourite.

Here on a farm everything has to earn its keep and to the farmer Goldie certainly doesn't do that.   She tends to lay four or five eggs (which he gathers in every day) and then choose a nest where three or four eggs are awaiting collection and sit on those, with the idea of hatching them. I hear a loud squawking and know that he has discovered Goldie covering a few eggs and has thrown her off with suitable curses.

Once she disappeared for three weeks and he expressed a wish that she never return and that perhaps a fox had got her (oh yes, he can be pretty hard hearted where non-earners are concerned).   Then one lunchtime he called me out into the yard and there she was, clucking in a motherly fashion, with one sturdy chick in her wake.   And it turned out to be a cockerel!  The farmer searched the hedge bottom and found Goldie's nest site where there were thirteen unhatched eggs and one broken eggshell.

Our hens are now all past their laying best.   Our local hen producer advertises hens who lay all kinds of coloured eggs; we don't care what colour the shells are, we just want sturdy egg layers.   So we have feelers out and friend S is also on the lookout - so watch this space.   I have actually had to buy six eggs today and then when I use them, although they are advertised as 'free range' I find their yolks to be a pale yellow.   Our hens lay eggs with golden yolks because they roam the fields and eat the grass.  And the taste is far superior.

In anticipation the farmer is, as I write, cleaning out the hen hut.   I offered to help, or even do it myself.   He said I would be more of a hindrance than a help and I would be best out of the way.   I have made him promise 5 star accommodation rather than hostel - so we shall see.

22 comments:

Crafty Green Poet said...

I hope you find some good new hens. We kept hens in Malawi and they were great company. They didn't lay many eggs though to be honest.

mrsnesbitt said...

Looking forward to this Pat! Our hens are out rambling at the moment - having a great time in the field next door. They'll be going to bed soon xxx

angryparsnip said...

I just love when you and mrsnesbitt write about your hens !
Please post a photo of your new 5 star accommodation for the hens. I do hope you get sturdy layers who also lay colored shells ! So pretty.

cheers, parsnip

thousandflower said...

We, too, are going to have to get new hens this spring. I hate buying eggs, they hardly seem edible. Our ducks are starting to lay though and will keep us in eggs until I can get chicks raised to egg laying age. My favorite chickens are Buff Orpingtons or Black Austrolorps. Although I am seriously thinking of getting some Speckled Sussex this year. They are so pretty.

Willow said...

I look forward to the photo of the 5 star Hen Hotel :)))

A Heron's View said...

Well good luck with your new hens. Over here if you have more than one hen then you have to get a flock number.
Which I think is absolutely crazy because quite a few pensioners keep a couple of birds to eek out their diets.

Hildred said...

You make me very envious, Pat, - I would love to have some hens again!! Hope the Farmer will rise to the occasion and spoil them with extra special accommodation.

Chip Butter said...

Still smiling from reading this post. The Farmer and Goldie are fun characters in the story. Good luck with your search. Good hens are hard to find!

MorningAJ said...

I'd love to have hens but it just wouldn't be practical. I think they're wonderful. I couldn't be tough like the farmer though. They'd be allowed to live a ripe old age - even after they stopped laying.

Heather said...

Hope you find the hens you want. My grandmother kept hens and after the war my father kept a few. I love the quiet sounds they make 'chatting' among themselves. Goldie sounds quite a character and seems to have sussed the farmer out. I hope he does a good job on the henhouse.

Gwil W said...

Hello chuck ;)

Bovey Belle said...

How I agree with you about "free range" eggs offered. Our hens laid eggs with ORANGE yolks and when you made pancake batter or mixed them into a cake, you had beautiful promrose yellow batter. They had had access to GRASS.

We used to have a Goldie hen too - well, she was a Black Rock with a big golden cape. Unfortunately Next Door's barsteward of a dog murdered her.

I hope you get some good laying hens soon. I loved my brown Maran eggs, but they didn't lay every day!

Bovey Belle said...

How about prImrose?!

John Gray said...

Pat my oldest hen is 10
She never leaves her run......

Gerry Snape said...

When we had hens a few years ago a neighbour took a weakly one on and gave her "hotel treatment," we called her Henrietta...fond memories Pat,

Cloudia said...

Goldie had a son!

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

Cloudia said...

Can't wait to meet the new brood

Cro Magnon said...

My first ever hens were truly 'Free Range'. They just wandered about and slept in a huge stone barn. Finding eggs was always difficult, and on occasions a hen would turn up with a dozen or so chicks in tow. It was wonderful.

thelma said...

Lucky you, I just love hens, going to get bantams when we move. I had a 'Goldie', always finding a nest full of eggs behind a rosebush or a fallen log. They are such pleasant creatures and chatter away in hen language continuously as they used to potter around the garden.....

Rachel said...

I like a man to be a man.

Pam said...

I love hens and have always indulged them to the extent of including lecithin in their diet, and fine accommodation which my husband loved building for them- my favourite breed is the Rhode Island Red. Unfortunately we can't keep chooks anymore due to downsizing in the city. I will look forward to reading about yours instead.

Arija said...

I feel for you with store bought eggs. They certainly do not measure up to the home free range variety. Out of my three chooks, two produce one chick each and while they were sitting and clucking, the third one went on strike. I still have a few from before but will have to raid my granddaughter's hen house when I run out.