We lost another of the Vicarage Girls today … Milly came through the moult a completely different looking hen … but yesterday DH thought she wasn’t too good, and this morning, we found her at the foot of the ladder to the Cube. It looks as if she never made it up the steps last night I had thought that Betsy might be next … but she’s still going strong.
So we are down to four hens. The question now is, do we add in a couple of pullets this spring? There are a number of reasons not to … but the Hen Run does feel rather empty, and the girls must rattle around the Cube at night – it’s supposed to take up to ten hens. The temptation is to get some pure breds … DH misses having Light Sussex around the place … and we’d be sure of the quality of their eggs, since some of our current layers are rather elderly and their whites are watery and sometimes quite opaque.
Watch this space! We do have a contact who may have some pullets available in a few weeks …
In the meanwhile, four hens do not need all the space we’d originally set aside for ten+ hens. So we’ve taken the decision to restrict them to the Run by and large, and have just spent the afternoon moving things around (it’s a nice, sunny day for once!). The Moppet House is now in the Hen Garden and we’ve reclaimed the space under the apple tree …
We cut the raspberries back in order to lift the Moppet House across the bed. We had to remove all the fencing too, but now both Hen Houses are on the same side of the garden, and the patch of snowdrops under the tree can grow on undisturbed.
The area is now raked and cleared … and where the Eglu now is, was once the ‘back bank’ … it was levelled when we had to have some work done on the drains. So we have loads more space. There’s still a mound in front of the bamboo, which shields our dumping ground from view, but we can live with that … we still have some hellebores in there and have rediscovered some cyclamen we’ve not seen for a few years, but I expect we’ll seed it with grass in the spring, at least until we decide if we’re going to do anything with the space. We may remove the raspberry bed altogether, to give us the flexibility of having hens on the grass from time to time.
These are the Moppets in their temporary enclosure while we moved their house and run. A handful of corn kept them happy, at least until it was time to handle them … they really are not used to being picked up. But they soon settled, especially once they found the grass …
The Moppet House is now on the patch of ground we had fenced off to keep the grass though the winter. We’ve covered the bare ground with stones, to try and prevent them getting too muddy, but for now we’ve left them the grass to enjoy. And they are enjoying it a lot!
It seems a bit unfair that the Vicarage Girls are restricted to woodchip, but we have moved the fencing so they can get out onto grass from time to time. But at this time of year, it won’t last, so it will only be from time to time. The sun was too low and my view too restricted to show you exactly where the Moppet House is in relation to the Hen Run, but they are quite close by.
I was concerned that the one Moppet might not handle well. She’s not moving around so much these days, although she still comes waddling along for corn.
But for now she is well and content.