The Hens Are Laying Again

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Eggs in a basket, life on pig row

At Christmas we had a sick cockerel, Gene Simmons, and though we tried to reintroduce him to the flock a fortnight ago it appeared the flock could do without him. We have an Amazon hen flock. They pulled out his tail feathers, left him with bald head and bullied him so hard that they almost pushed him under the feeding platform into the mud. You have to remember that chickens have a pecking order and the order now has a firm leader, Mrs Cluckerbuck, part hen, part Arnold Schwarzenegger; get it? 'I'll fly back', 'Egsta La Vista'. No? Oh well, you miserable lot. So our lovely, soft Gene Simmons was put in the isolation run and we wanted to see whether he would get to spring and start crowing again. He got sicker and we brought him back indoors. Sometimes hens attack sick poultry, they seem to know. He was a pitiful sight in our kitchen but we suspected at first he was sulking, he perked up after a few days but soon returned to being a sulky soot sprite of a bird. We talked to him about getting bantams, something smaller than himself because he's never been a big cock; he did not live up to his namesake. Sadly, on the Sunday just gone he died in his sleep, we found him in the kitchen in his box, a small, sad little black bird. We have to acknowledge that he had a good life, rescued from the chop nearly three years ago now, even back then he was the runt of the tiny flock. He went on to have two wonderful summers before this winter got the better of him; Silkies are sadly more prone to the cold and respiratory diseases and we did all we could to keep him going but in the end you have to let nature take its course. There have been tears as he was our first bird in many years but we have to look to the future, we have to remember that hens are livestock and not pets. Spring is around the corner, our remaining hens are gearing up and laying for England.

Hens, life on pig row

We're now getting around five eggs a day, there is a delight in watching an egg basket fill up. All that hard work and you get an egg. For those people who don't think it is worth it because eggs are cheap at a supermarket, yes you're right but unless you can tell me how those hens have lived I will still suspect a cage or two will be involved. For those people who spent too much money establishing a flock only for Mr Fox to get them all, this is not for you, you have given up and have not seen the joy and humour hens bring. We hope you keep hens again, this time put a skirt on your run or an electric fence. At present, we have twenty eggs in our basket, after four days, they'll keep for a month before we need to start worrying but they won't make it that far. We're already talking about real custard, egg custards in unctuous pastry, boiled eggs and soldiers, rich veg filled omelettes, simple fried eggs on toast, poached, oh poached eggs with greens...Gene loved greens.


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