We have now been hen owners for one blissful week and our four ex-battery girls have settled down wonderfully well although it’s been very hard for me coping with the dreaded ‘pecking order’. We have two dominant hens: Dotty – who emerged as top hen very early on, and Minnie – who surprised me as she started out quite shy.
So that leaves poor Alice and Dolly Clare at the bottom of the pecking order and Alice, in particular, is a favourite victim although she’s the bright one – always eager to explore and try things first.
And, if you’re wondering about the choice of names, I took them from the Miss Read books I love so much!
When we first got the hens, they’d never been outside before and so knew nothing of day and night. That meant that we had to give them a helping hand when it came to bedtime. But, I’m pleased to say that the girls have now got the hang of things and happily make their own way up the ladder to bed each evening.
Not only have we been enjoying watching them grow in confidence but we’ve had a regular supply of fresh eggs too! We’ve made omelettes, scrambled eggs galore, a cake and meringues.
So, after years of dreaming and months of preparation, we are now smallholders and I couldn’t be happier. If you fancy giving it a go yourself – and I highly recommend it – take a look at the British Hen Welfare Trust website. And don’t forget to buy free-range eggs! We can all do our bit to make sure that these wonderful animals are treated with the love and respect they deserve.