Then there were seven

The new hens have arrived. After much mulling we decided to put them straight in with the others overnight, when they were roosting, and so, when they appeared in their cardboard boxes on Saturday night they were installed on the new perch and off we went, hoping all would be quiet, and forgoing any idea of a Sunday lie-in so we could be there at first light to hold chickeny claws if need be.

Sunday morning came, and we went up and opened the door. Our original three shot out as normal, and then realised there were more of them than there had been the previous night. The new bods slowly made their way outside, but ignored the old guard the moment they sighted grass. Having destroyed their original garden, grass is something they haven't seen in months.

Mary, boss Bantam, decided enough was enough, and weighed into Pandora, the Light Sussex. She found out in very short order that unlike Matilda, Pandora was not bothered by someone small and nasty, and not only that, but Scrabbles, the Wendlesham Blue and Boss Hen, came in pretty sharpish to break up the scrap. Mary retired, huffed, and then decided to Show Off. She flew up into the rafters, bellowing, and then stalked across the rafters to the far stable, still bellowing. The new hens were completely unmoved by this achievement, which frankly was a lot less exciting than all that grass. Mary then retired to the field, to be Alone.

Matilda and Rose decided that the new arrivals were best given a wide berth, and they went off to the field to follow their usual routine, and were eventually joined by Mary.

The new four made one brief foray into the field, but so far prefer to stay around the stables. Scrabbles (I keep wanting to call her Scabbers) does a fine job breaking up scraps. We kept popping up to check all was well, and there were a few flurries, but they get no further than a few squawks and flaps before Scrabbles comes along saying "Break it up, ladies, break it up," and they do. What an excellent hen. The other two, by the way, are hybrids: Eponine and Clarrie. Clarrie I'm pretty certain is a Rhode Island Red cross, but Eponine I haven't a clue about.

Here they all are: from the top, Eponine, Pandora, Clarrie and Scrabbles.

Mary's beak is still rather out of joint, but the original three enjoyed watching the new four being bamboozled by the bedtime routine. The originals had hopped up on their perch, but the new four were not quite sure what to do and retired into a corner. The bants and Matilda soon realised there was something worth watching, and turned round and settled down to watch.

Despite being put on the perch, the newbies got themselves off again, and it took a while before we arrived at a suitable lighting arrangement (light on in far stable but nowhere else) giving them enough light to get on the perch, but not so much that they thought it was still day. The other three certainly enjoyed the spectacle, anyway, and if hens can be such a thing as smug, I think they were. "You may be big," they were thinking, "but you ain't smart."


Val said…
What a lovely description, we were laughing over coffee reading this aloud this morning. As we are backyard hen keepers we could identify with the mixing dilema and the character assessments completely!!!!!
We have two senior ladies, five junior ladies and one Bantam (who reared the juniors) and there are no two personalities alike... Scrabbles sounds a most wonderful bird (do you think she could give lessons by email!)
Jane Badger said…
Thanks Val - I think Scrabbles is too busy with all the grass at the moment to think of passing on her secrets! Clarrie alas is definitely off colour today. I thought yesterday she wasn't quite the thing. Hey ho.
Val said…
Hopefully Clarrie will perk up soon.
(My Mother would recommend a dose of warm cupboard..airing cupboard in a cardboard box...or by the stove if all else fails... it sometimes works wonders)
Jane Badger said…
Thanks Val - I had wondered if a spell by the Aga might work. I took the hens up some bread at lunchtime, and Clarrie tucked into that with great gusto, so I don't think she can be that bad. Maybe she's feeling the move? Perhaps I have a sensitive hen? I read on the Eglu site about feeding new hens Marmite on toast, so will try that too!
Frances said…
Your hens are beautiful! I'm looking for some as only have one (rescued) very affectionate cockerel at the moment,who keeps wandering into the house. Look forward to reading more about them!
Jane Badger said…
Good luck with the search Frances. I know absolutely nothing about French breeds of hen - are there any local to you? I don't have a cockerel, having turned down the offer of a bantam cock!

Clarrie, I am happy to report, seems much brighter today.
Frances said…
Glad Clarrie is feeling better - did you try the marmite?

I'm very new to the hen world - I only acquired Lucky because my friend ordered five 'poulets' instead of five 'poules' and ended up with five cockerels...I love that bird, but need to find him some friends - can't seem to find any at the mo.

Your breeds are just lovely. My farmer neighbour had over 7,000 but they were all taken away just before I found Lucky, so that was a bit of bad search continues!
Jane Badger said…
Frances - yes I did try the Marmite, and there are pictures of the great event. I can't begin to imagine having 7,000 hens (you must need staff for that many). It sounds like there aren't a lot of hen breeders around if you're having trouble. Is it more a British thing, do you think, this new obsession for hens?
Frances said…
Did the marmite work do you think?

I'm pretty sure it's just the farmer and his wife...he only seems to have them for little while before big trucks come and take them away. They have massive areas to run about on, whole huge plots to themselves.

People definitely like to have hens here, although I don't think they are so fussed about breeds, just that when I've talked to people they say you need a wait a while for the layers. They say that soon you could buy chicks for a few Euros, but really I want proper friends for Lucky and hens that lay eggs. The info I'm getting indicates I have to wait a few more months for this...I'm not sure why though. Still, the search is on hold while I'm laid up of course!

Hope Clarrie continues to do well!

Random question - do you know if you cut hens/cockerels nails the same you do a dog/bunny etc?
Jane Badger said…
I'm not sure whether it was the Marmite, or just general adjustment! Sounds like France is the same as here as far as getting new hens goes. As mine are all rehomed, it was a bit different.

I don't know about cutting cockerel's claws. Mine are very free range so it's not a problem, but I guess you could clip them (I'm just not sure I'd like to try it without someone else to deal with the beak end!) I did a quick google, and here is a reference to it:
Frances said…
I hadn't realised you had rehomed them, that is excellent. That link is very useful, thanks, I will just keep an eye on him. He just wanders around like yours so maybe they will wear down themselves.

Look forward to reading more updates on the hens - they're very addictive creatures!

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