So this weekend was going to be the final drive to find Gromit in and around Bristol - we have enjoyed the trail muchly over the summer but then it just was not to be - instead I got asked a) to perform Saturday at 1 o'clock and b) there were some chickens avalible for rescuing/retiring from intensive commercial farming. Plus there is a possible chance of getting to talk to the allotment people on Sunday - so sadly and with a heavy heart no more Gromits
But still - CHICKENS!
The hen house that me and Alaric assembled last weekend was hefted into place Friday night after Thursday and Friday were spent burning rubbish (including that giant damn building bag of tree bits the previous people had left on the workshop roof and which was now dumped right were the back of the run needed to go!). My garden doesn't look pretty at the moment but it has been very productive!
This is going to be within the big fenced off area we will have the animals in most of the time though once they are settled they like the rabbit will get to bounce or flutter around the garden! But for now we have the chicken run and it even has a little ramp!
So anyway I went and watched poetry whilst Al and the girls went to pick up the supplies we needed such as feed and grit (for the chickens gullet - they have no teeth so they swallow stones to help grind their food up). Several people were coming to see me read/perform including Al and the girls but I ended up going on early and so they missed it - boo hiss! But on the other hand at least two radom shoppers stopped for the entirety of my 20 minute set I always count that as a win!
Then we headed off to go and pick up our chickens from nearish Cirencester - it was a farm where the rescue chickens had been delivered that morning, whilst there Mary befriended the farm dog! So the fat hen has been called Doggie - as featured above.
On the way home I kept winding Alaric up with chicken impressions and Jean was convinced they were laying eggs in the book - we collected them in my old paper work boxes which were just the right size for two chickens each with handy air wholes - they kept the spare box we had bought just in case as they make such handy chicken carriers!
At home Jeany removed the leds (after cats had been turfed!), they all just sat there with half their feathers missing, not realising her was a chance for escape.
Jean's one is called Lilly after the fictional character Harry Potter's Mother.
The remaining two hens are being called after Chicken Scheme programmers - so we have Felix and Mario!
Well eventually when Alaric was applying the red mite powder Felix who was the first to stick her neck out of the box, looked around went 'my god what are you doing to me!' and fluttered out of the box - she was the only one to do so - then she promptly pooed on my shoe which was sitting by the back door!
We popped her back in the box and took them down to the chicken run!
Felix was the first one to work out there was a ramp and was busy bossing all the others about!
Initially they were only interested in all the grit and not the food or water. Mary is very happy there is a chick'n house and has learnt that they are not ducks! But mainly has been restrained from prodding and poking!
Lilly (Jean's chicken) is a bit dim and was found forlorn at the base of the ramp at bed time oblivious as to what at happened to the other chickens - I had to pick her up and put her in the hen house!
We got the chickens from The British Hen Trust and I was sad to see the state of the chickens - but this is nothing compared to how chickens used to be at the end of a commercial laying career and I think the commercial farmers need to be thanked for at least allowing them to be retired. I think the issue lays in the commercial pressures on the farmers - it's bizar that in a land were we end up with so much wasted food there are people struggling to feed their families and animals being forced to over produce :/ I myself have found times when we could not afford anything other than the cheapest eggs and sometimes not even that :/ I see how many get broken in the supermarkets too. I don't know how to solve the issue as I am privlaged to be able to keep the chickens.
Anyway we finally have our birds - no ducks yet - need to assess how much space the chickens actually need and how noisy etc... they are - especially as ducks take up more space! (Goes off and picks up her book on keeping urban bees).