• Sara x

While the Cat's away, the Mouse gets more pets. And so should you.

Tim went to Australia a few weeks before his heart went mental and so naturally I took the abandonment to mean I needed more animals in my life.

I did a similar thing when we adopted Chester, AKA, 'Big Bear'. I visited him at his previous home and decided I'd like to adopt him, and the first time Tim met him was the day he moved in, when all 11 stone of shaggy, black fur barrelled over to say hello.

Seeing as Tim took that so well, I thought he'd probably get over the acquisition of three chickens.

Moving in day

Chickens are something I always sort of thought I'd like to have, but I'd never really looked into. A bit of research unearthed this whole subsection of people I'd never come across before; people who had purchased chickens and become completely obsessed with them.

This is a special group to which i now belong.

I picked up my three girls - Ariadne, Jane and Lemon (all named after recurring female characters from Agatha Christie's novels) - from a lovely farm in Sussex. After choosing my birds, who were all at point-of-lay, meaning they should start 'egging' soon, we shoehorned them into cardboard boxes and brought them home.

I'd bought a build-it-yourself coop, a run, some ridiculously over-the-top chicken toys and gathered some branches for them to play on, and had set about building Chicken Utopia.

Only, the run hadn't arrived in time and the lady at the farm had said, 'for God's sake make sure your run is covered so they can't fly out, so my mum and me hastily created a tangle of net propped up on sticks in the hope it would keep the new girls in. By some miracle it did.

That first day, we sat for hours just watching them walk about, look at us with a side-eye, scratch at the grass and dig little holes. They were so fascinating.

I also found out they are supremely easy to look after.

The girls
The girls

As pets, chickens are easy to tame. Mine are led by their tummies (or crop and gizzard to be more accurate), and as their primary caregiver, I am queen. They follow me around the run if I walk nearby, they run over to meet me squawking in greeting, they sit on my feet when I go in to see them, and the other day, Ariadne dug a little hole and sat down in it next to me.

Admittedly, They also do all these things for Tim, so I guess he's Queen too. And he loves them as much as me. He doesn't help himself, it just teaches me that I can get more animals and he'll love them. Next up, Nigerian dwarf goats...

The girls ask for nothing more from us more than a hopper full of their layers' pellets to fill them up and get them laying, a bucket of fresh, clean water, a bit of shade, and a handful of chicken crack (corn) in the evening. And for that, they give us three eggs a day.

Tim said I was like a proud grandmother the day we got our first egg. It was a big, big day.

They don't even need that much space, as long as they have a secure run to keep the foxes out, and a coop to roost in at night time, they're happy. And they take themselves off to bed, I just close the door at night. they give little clucks by way of thanks as you tuck them in.

It hasn't all been plain sailing though. The run eventually arrived but in two parts. The first part was the sides and door but no roof, which we assembled and moved the girls in. On their second or third night, we realised the sun had gone down and we hadn't tucked them in.

We got to the run, to find Jane teetering along the top of it, seven feet in the air. Lemon and Ariadne were nowhere to be seen. Cue total panic as we dashed about looking for evidence of a fox attack.

Panic turned to bewilderment. I sent poor Tim into the hedge to look for them, and as I pondered my next move, I heard chicken noises from above. I looked up and roosting happily, about 15 feet up an oak tree, sat Ariadne and Lemon, awaiting the arrival of Jane.


Wavering about on the top rung of a ladder, getting bashed in the face by leaves and branches, feeling bugs but being unable to get a visual on them, while prising two very reluctant and shrieking hens out of a tree, mean I have never forgotten to lock them away since.

So If you have a bit of garden space, really like omelettes or are allergic to fur, consider feather. They're so cheap to run, live for up to eight years and they really do give you so much in return for your affection, plus their treasured eggs.

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