WELCOME TO THE HEN GARDEN

IMG_3594This is the continuing story of our adventures keeping hens in our urban back garden.

Hens come and go, but our current hens are ex-batts Mandy, Betsy, Babs and Bertha, five Pekin Bantams known as The Moppets (who have names but as we can never tell which is which we don’t really bother) and Connie, Camilla, Charlie, Clare and Carey .. all different breeds who came to us at POL in March, 2014.

Keeping hens is always an adventure … I hope you enjoy following our story  :)

More Pictures …

 

More photos from the weekend …

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All About Feathers

This is a great site about what makes birds unique … well worth a good look :)

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Making plans

With the big hens now together in the Hen Run, we have to decide what to do about the bantams. They are currently in the greenhouse,  which is water tight but which will be altogether too warm in sunny weather. Neither the Moppet House nor the wooden coop are truly weather proof, but the only other alternative is the Eglu, which would be too small for five bantams (of which three are now broody – it’s that time of year).

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The only realistic location for the Moppet House is our recently flattened area near the back wall which is now down to grass but isn’t yet able to cope with grazing …

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(The bare patch is where we removed the raised vegetable bed and it has only just been sown with grass) But I think that is the only practical option … hopefully the wall will provide some protection for the coop, and we can be creative with the fencing to allow some of the new grass to get established.

Happy Easter

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Integration Day 2/3 – complete!

Next day, when we were once again in the garden, we opened the gate between the two broods. I sat in a corner with a pocketful of corn, and there were plenty of greens and dandelions scattered around. There were a few spats between the girls, but enough distractions that none lasted long.

I sat there for some time, simply watching. I could see which hens gave way to whom, who decided to stand fast, and which of the girls avoided all contact. Betsy still isn’t well and kept apart for the most part. As we’ve seen before with a poorly hen, others would come and keep her company but the distractions were too appealing else they may have spent longer with her. After a while, a pecking order became apparent … four of the Five on top, in their normal order, and Camilla at the bottom (not counting Betsy) … poor Camilla.

We realised it wouldn’t be as easy a second night to separate them … so I threw a handful of corn in the Hen Run, and closed the gate on all nine hens :o I went out just after dark to check all was well, and found five hens in the nest box – three ex-batts, Camilla and Clare – the other on the roosting bars.

This morning, confined to the run, they are mostly content, with only the occasional, short-lived friction in evidence. So that’s it … full integration in only two days :) I’m astonished.

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There are signs that Carey may not survive as top hen, but it’s all very subtle … I’ll keep watching and let you know!

Integration … day 1

Hmm … well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!

It’s a lovely, sunny day and DH & I were both in the garden, so we took the opportunity for the Vicarage Girls and the Famous Five to get to know each other a little better. With predictable results …

 

The story in pictures …

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I suspect that, as bottom hen of the Five’s pecking order, Clare intends to dominate the Girls in order to move up the hen hierarchy. Betsy was the first to get involved simply because she’d wandered away from the other Girls … she’s not in good health so is often on her own. I hope integrating the two groups won’t cause her too much stress.

It was a moment’s impulse to swap the broods round … the Five were all in the Moppet House and it was easy to shut them in while herding the Girls into their old home in the Hen Run. Hopefully they will still remember the Cube as home and find their way to roost at dark. I wonder if the Five will discover the coop as easily? I figure it will confuse them all as to territories, and might eventually make integration easier. You can hope, can’t you?!

Tomorrow will be another sunny day, so we’ll open the gate again for a while later in the day. In the meanwhile, the Five are now only contained by a low plastic fence … let’s see if they can really fly :D

Treats

I put an apple in a hanging thingy a few days ago … the Famous Five showed no interest at all. I tried again today with the hanger, this time with cauliflower leaves …

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… instant success! I guess they just haven’t discovered apple yet (after two days, I moved the apple to the Moppet House and the Vicarage Girls went straight for it!) :)

Connie was hovering to one side, but joined in as soon as I left the Hen Run.

Photo gallery – Famous Five

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I’m not sure the Famous Five had encountered cats on the farm … certainly, Camilla sets up an alarm (what a racket!) every time a cat passes the Hen Garden. Clare was less flustered, but was very wary of Oscar – who often comes to me when I’m outdoors, so hopefully they’ll soon get used to him.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Hen Run, the Famous Five generally pay little attention to the Vicarage girls. But when we start to integrate them (not yet sure if it will be with the Vicarage girls or the Moppets … ) feathers will fly!

See the Hen Garden 2014 link in the sidebar for more :)

Combs #2

No more soft eggs from the Famous Five … in fact, no more eggs from anyone other than Carey and Charlie. But there will be. Camilla, Clare and Connie are all showing signs of growing to maturity …

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Clare’s comb still isn’t huge, but it is growing

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So too is Camilla’s

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It’s not easy to see, but Connie’s comb too, has grown a little.

Readjustments

The pecking order among the Famous Five is clearly changing … both yesterday when I gave them some rice (+ Flubenvet + Limestone flour) and today when I gave them some greens for the first time, Charlie was put in her place by Connie, so she appears to have slipped down the order a place. I think she’s my favourite (is that allowed? ;) ) … she has a lovely character, so friendly.

It took the Five a few moments to realise greens were meant as a treat …

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I gave the Vicarage girls something to distract them … it’s easier see how different their feathers are when they are side by side …

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  • The Hen House Archive

    Our original hen keeping adventure came to an end in January 2013, when a fox took our entire brood of hens. But don’t let that put you off … you can find the story at The Hen House Archive where there are still lots of good stories to read, photos to share, and information about keeping hens to be found.
  • HEN NEWS LATEST

    April 20th (Easter Day) ... integration complete ... in only two days ... am astonished!

    April 18th ... integration of the Famous Five and the Vicarage Girls begins ... watch this space

    March 27th ... the Famous Five arrive

    March 26th ... one of the Moppets passes on. We clear out the Hen Garden and lay new woodchip.

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