I have kept chickens all of my life and I can never see myself without a clutch of hens scratching around our garden. When I was young and lived on the smallholding with my parents, at one point I had over 40 chickens, 3 guinea fowl and 3 ducks. Years later, moving to our little cottage I knew I wanted to make sure I had room for chickens. Maybe not 40, but the need for a small brood was top of my list. I bought with me one of my remaining hens who was 8 years old, a little Pekin Cochin cross, who was pretty feisty and had been a great mother in the past. So when she went broody I immediately looked locally for some fertile eggs. I have always wanted to keep Buff Orpington's and knew they were fairly docile so I looked specifically for that breed. Luckily I found some and all 8 eggs hatched! The photo below shows the Buff Orpington's as babies - are’t they gorgeous!
All grown up, the photo below shows some of my hens outside their chickens shed. The rooster on the left is called Boris. The brown hen with them is a hen which we rescued a few years ago. We love rescuing Ex Battery hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust, and plan on rescuing more in 2018. When they first come to us, they are in such an awful state, it's so sad to see. They have hardly any feathers and are thin. They have never seen the outside world and are very frightened of everything. We have to introduce them to things very gradually and over the weeks, slowly but surely they start to behave like normal chickens. It's so wonderful to see. They turn into the most friendly and bold hens and will often follow you around and even stand on your feet! It is such a worthwhile thing to do, I would encourage anyone with some space and a secure garden to rescue hens.
I had purchased an off the peg shed a few years ago which we put up in our garden, it was fabulous. However sadly we only had it for a few months and a storm bought down a neighbouring tree right across the shed and crushed it. Thankfully all of the chickens were absolutely fine. Luckily Nicholas is really good with tools and he salvaged what he could from it and rebuilt it for me as you can see below.
THe shed is nestled at the bottom of our garden between lots of trees. It is pretty sheltered and they have an enclosed run both in front of the shed and to the right hand side. So they have plenty of places to explore. In the winter months they come out fairly often to roam the entire garden. The perimeter of the garden is secured with chicken electric fencing which keeps them safe from foxes. We live rurally and so we have an abundance of wildlife around us, the foxes would take the chickens, so we have to make sure it is a safe environment for them live in.
This is the area right at the back of the shed where the hens and rooster perch all cosy. We have electricity to the shed too so that in the winter months we can put a light on so that they can see to eat both morning and evening. They also have two nest boxes plus food and water on tap all of the time.
Lily our dog gets on with the chickens really well. She is quite fascinated by them and will try to sniff them when she gets the chance. If she is very gentle they do let her from time to time...!
This is a photo of Boris! He is such a handsome fellow and loves his girls. He is out in our main garden in early spring time!
The chickens outside our studio enjoying the early morning sunshine.
If you have enjoyed seeing my chickens and are curious to see more of our woodland garden, why not hop over to our Cottage Garden page to see more!!
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