This is an item from 2011 that for some reason I didn’t publish but as I intend to write about our hens I am posting it now as it fills in some back ground.

I’ve been really lucky over the years in that I generally have the loveliest people imaginable stay with me and that has been especially true just recently.

It’s only when things go wrong in your home life that it becomes apparent how difficult it can be juggling multiple roles.

Recently we’ve had a run of bad luck with our hens. Some of the ex bats were reaching the end of their lives and my 10 year old dealt with that very matter of factly. When the 2nd hen showed signs that her time had come, I asked him if he wanted me to place her in a box overnight. His reply was that he was going to lift her into one of the nesting boxes so that she could end her time with her friends.

Sadly and at the same time we had problems with the hens we’d hatched from eggs two summers ago. One of the black hens had shown problems with her breathing at Christmas time but had recovered and then suddenly got very sick and died overnight. Adam was distraught. When our beautiful Cockerel Gonzalez displayed the same symptoms a week or so later we took him to the vets and had a nerve wracking wait to see whether antibiotics would cure him. Completely unrelated but at the same time, our little red hen got crop bound and needed to be operated on.

All of this with a vets trip an 11 mile drive away and guests to feed. They were absolute treasures – accommodating, concerned and one even gave a donation towards my ever increasing vets bills. They travelled the journey with me, understanding why I simply couldn’t ‘neck’ the sick pet hens as one local farmer suggested and I received an email from one guest who had left the morning of Red Hen’s operation, asking how she’d got on.

Sadly, Red Hen didn’t make it but Gonzalez did get better and crowed this morning for the first time in weeks. When the vet called to say Red Hen had died I couldn’t work out how to tell Adam without his being devestated – my solution was to collect a pair of fawn call ducks and two new hens from the poultry breeders at Hipswell and I told him about the new birds first.

My new morning routine involves letting the Aylesbury (huge white) ducks out of the hen run into the walled garden before letting the tiny call ducks out of the duck house into the hen run. I have to do this because the Aylesbury Drakes go beserk over the new ducks and I had to grab them by their necks when I first let the call ducks out of their box. So now I have to remember to put Scout on his lead each time we go into the walled garden so that he doesn’t chase the ducks!


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