100s of rescued hens looking for loving homes!

Come on peeps, all of you who, over the last few years, have told me that you would just love to keep hens. Now here’s your opportunity to help some little hens that hitherto have had a pretty rotten life.

500+ ex battery hens are now ready to start new lives with owners who will give them the care and attention they deserve.

Little Hen Rescue of Flordon, near Norwich, have rescued yet more hens that were destined for slaughter after having spent their lives in cages laying eggs for supermarkets.

These hens are friendly and make great pets. Those of you who are interested should phone Little Hen Rescue rehoming line Monday or Friday evenings (8.00 to 9.30 pm)  07717 757596 or, preferably, email Jo Eglen at littlehenrescue@aol.com  For more information visit www.littlehensrescue.co.uk

Over 800 rescued battery hens arrived at Little Hen Rescue last Saturday and I was there to help unload them.  They had endured the three and a half hour journey from Leicester pretty well.  I was surprised to see how good they looked. No featherless ones; none with bad peck wounds, or, indeed any sort of wound.  Apparently the farm from which the hens came, was particularly good on welfare and, although kept in large cages, all the hens looked really well.

I helped unload them from their crates into the large, roomy loose boxes where they’ll live until they go to their new homes… I wanted to bring them all home with me but, sadly, I couldn’t. Although I had lost Hattie the other week, I couldn’t take any. You have to take a minimum of two, but I have four and I think to add another two to the flock would be a bit too many for my coop, so I’ll have to wait until another falls of her perch. It’s about time for Dottie, who is 7 or 8, but she shows no sign of ‘popping her clogs’. Then poor Buffy didn’t, she just went. What a lovely way to go. No suffering.

For those of you who may be wondering how little Lottie, my surviving ex batt is getting on, she is a little star, who has started laying. Well…. sort of. She is Polly’s constant shadow (do you remember how awful Polly was too her when she first arrived?) – it’s so funny to watch. They are best of mates now. Long may it last.


Rest in peace, Hattie dear

It’s with a very heavy heart I have to write that I have lost another hen. Hattie, originally known as Ruby, one of my two new ex-battery hens who arrived just three weeks ago, died tonight.

She’s never been so perky as her compatriot, Lottie (originally Nellie), who is very feisty. She has spent a lot of time in the coop ever since she arrived, but I noticed today that she was moving very slowly. I gave her a sugary drink to see if it would perk her up. But, if anything, she seemed worse. When I came in for supper, she had put herself to bed, but I feared she wouldn’t last the night.

Went out to close their pophole a while ago and I found her dead in the run. I am gutted. So sad. I feel guilty that I didn’t pick up on it earlier, but it is so difficult to see changes in an animal’s behaviour when you aren’t familiar with it. Oh dear, I feel as though I have let her down…. *She says with a large lump in her throat*

My one consolation is that she had a couple of months of freedom from her previous life in a battery cage.

Hattie  2nd June rip

Hattie 2nd June rip

Who said keeping hens is easy?

I’d like to say that Ruby and Nellie, my two new ex-battery hens have settled in happily, but I can’t.

My previous experience of introducing new hens into my established flock, was when dear Buffy (rip) and Polly came four or five years ago. At that time the alpha hen was Hettie who, although she was boss, was a very kind hen. Everything went very smoothly and they were accepted into the flock only a few days after their arrival.

When dear Hettie ‘fell off her perch’ Polly, the Light Sussex took over as alpha hen, or ‘top dog’ ! I’m afraid I can’t say that she is a kind hen. She is a busy, neurotic, precocious hen that is bossy,and really ‘in your face’.

Polly, alpha hen

Polly, alpha hen

She is the only hen I have had that squats when you wave your hand over her. This squatting is an invitation to the cockerel to mount her! She must be more highly sexed, maybe than the other hens. For this reason, when she gets too hyper she tries to mount the other hens. Poor Buffy, was always the one that she picked on. Buffy was at the bottom of the pecking order, but she was a big hen and could take the weight of a mature Light Sussex, which is a large hen. Polly only did it now and again, so I didn’t perceive it to be a problem.

Poor Ruby, the larger of my two ex-batts, but still only half the size of Polly, is the one that Polly keeps chasing.  If she corners her, she jumps on her.  So far Ruby seems unscathed, no loss of feathers, nevertheless a frightening experience!  I am sure that if I had a cockerel, he would sort Polly out, but that would be yet another mouth to feed. As it is, I now have five hens and Polly is the only one laying.

Needless to say that Ruby and Nellie are still going to bed each night in their little broody coop that is inside the hens’ run. They do go in and out of the main coop during the day, just not at night. Yet.

Oh dear, why do I always make my life more complicated? I just want an easy life!

On a more positive note, this week more swallows arrived, so the sky around the stables is full of them swooping, circling and chattering! Such a lovely sight.

Names needed for new arrivals

The sad demise of Buffy has freed up space in the coop for one or two more hens. I was hoping that Winnie or Dottie would pop their clogs as they really are not very friendly, and haven’t laid for nearly two years. It’s always the way, the nicest hens die first!

Today I picked up two little ex-battery ladies. So tiny compared with my big hens. They’ll stay for a few days in the little ark, then I’ll put the ark inside the hens’ run, then after another few days,  I’ll let them all out together. It worked well when I introduced Buffy and Polly to the flock, let’s hope that it will this time.

They don’t have names and I would be very grateful if you could suggest some please.

Names needed for two little ex-batts

Names needed for two little ex-batts

Bye bye Buffy ballerina

Little did I think when I snapped Buffy having her dust bath in the bonfire ashes on Friday, (see yesterday’s 365 #18 post) that it would be her last performance.

I went out late last night to say goodnight to Max and to close up the hens’ coop, because I had been watching the last in the series of The Village (which I found most disappointing!).  After I had dropped the hens’ pop hole door, I went back to Max to give him a couple of carrots and heard argie bargie in the hen coop. As though they were squabbling about having the best perch on which to roost (though no clucking).  Then there was a ‘thud’, which was strange. I now know that it was Buffy falling off her perch. Whether she had a heart attack and toppled over onto the hen next to her, causing the ‘argie bargie’ sounds or whether somebody pecked her and she fell off the perch and broke her neck, I will never know. But there wasn’t a mark on her. So I suspect the former.

She was the star turn in my post for 365 #18 on Saturday. When responding to one of the comments, I said that I hadn’t bonded with any of the hens that I had left, because none of them would let me touch them, let alone pick them up. This wasn’t, technically, true.

Buffy was my ex partner’s hen. When we went to pick them as point of lay pullets, I chose Polly because Light Sussex hens lay really well. My ex chose Buffy, a Buff Orpington, because she was so pretty, like a ballerina, he said. She had a lovely bussle and skirts and seemed to glide across the ground. Against all the odds, she laid an egg a day practically all year in her first year. Which must be unusual for her breed..

In May, three years ago, Pippa, M’s horse, whom he had owned for nigh on 16 years, had to be put down. It was a Thursday so I took Friday off to be around for him. It was 4.15 in the afternoon and I was washing Max’s tail in front of the stables. I happened to look up and saw Buffy, in the jaws of a fox, being dragged off into the ditch at the bottom of the paddock. I ran down there wailing like a banshee and waving my arms like a helicopter.  The fox, probably wondered what an earth was coming in his direction, dropped her in the ditch and bolted!

Poor Buffy came up out of the ditch rather the worse for wear.  She let me pick her up, wash, dry and treat her wounds. Poor thing was in shock. But she survived and three or four days later was all but back to her normal self.  She was a sweet hen, without an ounce of malice in her.

I’m so glad that she had such a wonderful time in the bonfire ashes the day before she fell off her perch. R.I.P Buffy dear.

Buffy's bussle

Buffy’s bussle

Dear Buffy with 'orrible Dotty

Dear Buffy with ‘orrible Dotty

Buffy enjoying her dust bath on Saturday

Buffy enjoying her dust bath on Saturday

365 #18

Friday was a lovely day. It was the first day, in the first week of my retirement, that I had to myself and the sun was shining and it wasn’t windy.

I had decided to spray weedkiller on the paddock, but couldn’t make my brand new backpack sprayer, work! Typical, as it’s a Bank Holiday and I am unable to phone the supplier so can’t get on with the job.

Because of this, the hens had a glorious day on the paddock. Buffy made straight for where I had a bonfire a few weeks back for a dust bath.

Buffy having a dust bath

Buffy having a dust bath

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

365 is kindly hosted by The Boy and Me

365 #14 Photo of the week

Today, 6th April really felt like the first day of Spring. Out of the wind it was quite warm. Such a change, from the previously freezing days we have been enduring. Had I not had an appointment with a chippy and a good friend that was dropping in for a coffee, I might have, finally, saddled up Max and gone out for our first hack since last October!

So I took him up to his field instead and came back to take out all the wet shavings from his stable, the usual Saturday job.  I never have my mobile switched on in the cottage as there is no signal, so while outside I switched it on and saw that my friend that was due to come around, was in bed with the flu! My chippy dropped by to say that he couldn’t due the scheduled job until Monday. Oh botherations, I thought,  I could have ridden afterall. Ho hum.

I set to digging up a plant that must have been secretly growing in one of the flower beds for the last few years. At first, I thought that it was spindle, but soon realised I was mistaken. God knows what it was, it had no thorns so wasn’t hawthorn or blackthorn. Whatever it was, it had already thrown up three new plants from its roots. I can tell you, it was a swine to dig out, its roots went very deep, but I finally succeeded in getting it out and felt really quite triumphant. Not bad for a pensioner, I thought! The deeper I dug, the more layers of clothes I took off, it really was rather hot work! But very satisfying. Continued digging, attacking the nettles with fervour.

As ever, when I am digging in the garden, the hens aren’t far away, a few inches in fact! Of course, they are after the worms and grubs that I turn over with the fork. I feel quite sad as they gobble up the worms! The hens are enjoying their last few days of freedom in the garden, as my next job is to get the sheep netting (wire) up on the post and rail fencing so that they will be restricted to the paddock. I will then be able to get on with my garden restoration without them destroying all my good work! Hens are lovely to have, but they are garden destroyers!

Dotty and Winnie slaking their thirst!

Dotty and Winnie slaking their thirst!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

365 is kindly hosted by The Boy and Me

Team Lloyd

Photo of the week kindly hosted by Team Lloyd 

The Photo Gallery: Week 133

This week’s theme for the Photo Gallery, kindly hosted by Tara Cain over at her blog Sticky Fingers, is the letter C.  Well now, this could be a veritable Pandora’s box… Chocolate, of course being the first thing that comes into my head, children which, I’m sure will be very popular, cooking, cakes, cookies… the world is our oyster.

So, what have I chosen? Well, I’m a bit predictable I suppose and I’m going for chickens. Until you keep them you cannot appreciate what interesting, busy little creatures they are. Every single one of them with their own little foibles, habits and quirks. All so different.

But in one thing they are all of the same mind – FOOD. With Polly, the Light Sussex (white one to the uninitiated), the alpha hen since Hetty died and queen greedy of the flock. It’s so funny to watch her when you put out three containers of corn in the afternoon. She runs around like a demented whatever, pushing in, eating some from this container, then rushing over to another eating some pushing fellow hens out of the way and then rushing off to another one and so on.

Chickens on a mission to find food!

Chickens on a mission to find food!

When I’m at home, and in the summer when it’s lighter later, they are let out of their run. Off they roar, making a bee line for…. the bird feeders, knowing there are always easy pickings under the containers. The wheat that the finches and tits have discarded is what they’re after! It’s so funny watching them loitering around waiting for the grains to fall to the ground, at which time they all plunge in head first to get to them first.

If you value your life, you don’t go and sit in the garden with a cuppa  and a packet of Garibaldi biscuits. If you do, you get mobbed. I’ve had my biscuit snatched out of my fingers on it’s way to my mouth. They have no manners when it comes to food !

A difficult decision

Six, or maybe 7, years ago we (my ex partner and I) decided we would like some hens. Well, to be honest, it was probably me who decided and he went along with it!

Dotty, a Cuckoo Maran, Hetty a Speckled Maran, and Aggie and Betty, two Black Rocks were, you  might say, my foundation stock. I bought them from an ol’boy who I thought was a breeder, but who turned out to be a bit of a wheeler dealer, as they say.

All four hens were pretty wild, although Betty did become approachable in time. She used to sit on the spade when my ex was digging-over the veg plot. They were very clever (who says that chickens are dumb?) because whenever they saw the fork or spade they would waddle after you as they knew that worms would be in the offing.

Grumpy Dotty

Grumpy Dotty

After a couple of years, we were in the garden one early summer’s day and Hetty (the Alpha hen) hurtled past us. Catching a glimpse of bright red on her breast we thought that she had injured herself. Trying to catch her was out of the question… like her three comrades in arms,  she was unapproachable. After some investigations, trying to look as closely as we could, we came to the conclusion that her flesh wasn’t broken but was livid red and devoid of feathers. We then discovered that the feathers were all in the nest box, and after doing some internet research we came to the conclusion that she was broody, and indeed she was.

We built her a broody coop and bought 6 hatching eggs, including a couple of blue cream legbar eggs, and a Welsummer egg gifted by my neighbour. 22 or 23 traumatic days later, the eggs started to hatch. I say ‘traumatic’ because Hetty was such a good hen she just sat on ‘her’ eggs, refusing all sustinance or inducements to take a walk. After 10 days I was physically pushing her off the eggs (what the experts would have said, god only knows) and covering the eggs with a towel. During those days she hardly ate or drank anything.

The outcome was 4 chicks. The other eggs didn’t hatch. Two Rhode Island Reds, a Cream Legbar and a Welsummer. One Rhode Island Red, Boris, and the Cream Legbar, Ozzie, were obviously cockerals. My neighbour took them, we thought to breed with because they were purebreds, but I have a sneaking suspicion  that they ended up in the pot, which, between  you and me, we were very sad about.

That left Winnie the Welsummer and my lovely Rosie the Rhode Island Red. Sadly Rosie died 2 weeks after getting over an oviduct infection. She had Marek’s disease which paralyses their legs.

We lost the two Black Rocks and, in 2009, we added two more to our dwindling flock. A Buff Orpington, aka Buffy and a Light Sussex we named Polly. Sadly, a couple of years later lovely Hetty, Mother Hen, died. Just leaving Dotty, Winnie, Polly and Buffy.

Hetty hen

Hetty hen

Dotty is in her 9th year and although she laid two or three eggs last year, her egg-laying days are over. Her eggs have always been speckled with blood, so had she been in a commercial flock, she would probably would have been culled at the end of her first year. So she has had a good life with me. Winnie is 6 this year, as are the other two.  She has only ever been ‘on the lay’ for 3 months of the year, god knows why. Last year she probably only laid half a dozen eggs.

The difficult decision is what do I do with Dotty and Winnie? I have to say that neither of them are very nice, and neither of them are friendly. Dotty is a bit aggressive with the others and Winnie drives me mad because she won’t come in at the end of the day. I have to get booted and coated up, wooly hat as well, just to go outside to get her in before Charlie fox catches her!

Winnie Welsummer

Winnie Welsummer

Last year I felt the time had come to send them to chicken heaven, but I certainly couldn’t despatch them myself. I asked my neighbour if he could do the dastardly deed and he said that he would, just remind him. That was nearly a year ago and I haven’t reminded him. Can’t bring myself to do it. I am finding it difficult to come to terms with actually having an animal’s life terminated. It’s different if they are terminally ill or suffering, then there is no choice, but just because they are too old to lay eggs, and are not very nice characters, is that enough of an excuse to chop off their heads? Am I being too sentimental? Would you be able to do it?