Friday, 10 April 2009


Our chickens - Sybil, Pam and Fanny - continue to astound and amuse us.

We've recently started letter them loose in the garden. I'd put up a low wire fence to keep the dogs (and children) off the flower beds, so we thought the chickens might as well enjoy the extra space.

First, of course, we had to clip their wings. I know chickens can't really fly, but they can flutter quite well, so we needed to trim the end feathers of one wing. Apparently this screws-up their aerodynamics and they can't take off.

Sybil was very easy to do. The poor thing is so obviously 'challenged' in the intelligence department. She now quite likes being picked up and made a fuss of, so while one scrawny bird (Mrs DW) held the other (Sybil), I trimmed the feathers.

Pam was also fairly easy. She's more reluctant to be picked up but is a real coward, so as soon as anyone goes near her she tries to look inconspicuous by flattening herself on the ground - let's hope a fox never gets in the garden.

When it was Fanny's turn, things got a bit more complicated. She's the least friendly, the biggest and the quickest of the three, so when she slipped past me out of the run into the garden she took quite a bit of catching. Being novice chicken keepers, we were a bit worried about hurting her (the chap I bought them off just lunged at them and grabbed their legs!). However, persistence paid off and, in the end, when cornered by three of us for the tenth time, she gave up.

The dogs have been very interested in sharing the garden with the hens. O, the terrier, just wants to bite their heads off and has to be watched very closely. On the other hand, J is half border collie and she spends her days herding the chickens around the garden . . . come by!

J rounds up Pam and Fanny

We were worried about the hens finding their way back to bed in the evenings, but there was no need to - they just pop back when it starts getting dark. Having said that, it did take Sybil a couple of days to master it - initially she stood on the outside of the wire looking in and wondering how the other two got there.

Since the incident of the eggbound hen, we have had a couple more 'giant' eggs but, more interestingly, we've also had a couple of jelly eggs, with very thin, pliable, barely formed shells. These obviously popped out unexpectedly - one in the garden and one in the run. We're not sure what caused it, because their diet had not changed but we wondered if they might have had a bit of a fright - we've all been there!

Squidgy egg (eggscuse the grubby thumb - and pun)


Carrie said...

Sounds random but are you feeding them oyster shell or baked egg shell pieces. A friend of mine owns chickens and apparantly they need the extra calcium to keep their own egg shells tough

Dog Walker said...

Yes, they have oyster shell every day, so I can't really explain it.