The Good Life, Revisited

There hasn’t been a tale from the hen house recently, because, well, there haven’t been any hens. Over Easter weekend, Mr Fox decided to help himself to an Easter treat, and took Ethel, Mabel and Doris. We were heartbroken, but at least we know they spent their last 8 months happily.

We decided straight away that we needed to get new hens, but wanted to wait until we got back from France. The earliest rescue after that was this weekend, so we duly booked some hens.

I’ve been wanting a Crested Cream Legbar for quite a while – I think they look beautiful and they lay eggs with blue shells, so we had loose plans to get two rescue hens and a legbar. However, when I booked the rescues, they wouldn’t let us have less than three, because we didn’t have any hens to add them to (hens are social birds and need to live in groups. Three is the ideal minimum, so one bird isn’t left alone if one dies). We agreed to three, and sorted out the “adoption” details.

A local breeder had some legbars ready to go to homes, so I contacted him about getting one. I went to see them yesterday and I’m not sure how I didn’t come home with dozens! The ones he was advertising were 12 weeks old, so still babies really, and not ready for laying (it’ll be September-ish before they start to lay), and so lovely. They still have a lot of growing to do, and their combs are only just beginning to grow. We chatted about the set up we have here, and when he learned the legbar would be going into a group of three rescues, he wasn’t happy. Because it’s so much smaller than the warrens who are generally about 18 months old, he didn’t think it would stand a chance in that group.

He said he’d be happier if there were two legbars, then at least if we have to separate the two group whilst they all settle in, one bird wouldn’t be left on its own. It makes sense. He had great advice about introducing them and I was happy to take his advice. I agreed to take two birds, and asked if one of them could be one of the Buff Orpingtons that were running around with the legbars (we used to have Buff Orpington about twelve years ago and she was amazing), but unfortunately, they are much in demand at the moment, and all his Orpingtons had deposits on them already, so I came away with two legbars.

Here they are – Margo and Barbara. Margo is a little bigger and more reserved. Barbara is smaller and cheekier!

Today, Stonelaughter went to pick the rescue hens we had booked. When he got there, he explained that we now had two birds already and asked if we could take two warrens instead of the three we had booked, explaining that the legbars were still little. They were more than happy to let us take just two, and so Elsie and Rita came to their forever home this afternoon. Elsie is the darker one and she’s not in bad shape – her tail is a bit ragged, and she has a few neck feathers missing. Rita is in a rough old state though – lots of feathers missing from her back, neck and her bottom is plucked raw and her tail is ragged too. Both of them have large, very pale combs that are completely flopped over.

We’ve put them in the larger run, separate from the little two, to get used to being here. After an initial bit of bemusement, they started pecking through the soil and exploring. After a while, I took a chair into the run, and sat there with them and opened the dividing door between the two runs. All four birds ignored it for quite a while, but eventually Barbara ventured into the big run to look around. She’s so comical. She went up to each of the larger birds and stuck her face in front of theirs, looking at them quizzically. The bigger two were quite startled and all of them seemed to wonder what was going on, but then they all carried on pecking at the floor.

Rita pretty much ignored Barbara after that, but Elsie decided to peck her when she got a bit close and Barbara ran off to a corner before taking herself back off to the little run with Margo. Margo meanwhile, had stayed in the coop and turned her back to all the others.

It feels lovely to have hens back in the run, and I can’t wait to start having eggs from our own chooks again.

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