Living the Dream: Chasing hens not what I had in mind

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This week conjured up some nice jobs for us to get our teeth into, the sort of jobs where you can really get a sweat on.

The first was clearing overhanging branches which needed taking down ahead of clearing 200 metres of ditch along the field edge. I was able to get that task out of the way without too much fuss.

From the waste I cut up a decent pile of logs which are now drying out in the barn and the remaining rubbish I was able to burn. I don’t know why but I do get a kick out of building an enormous bonfire, lighting it and watching the flames all the way through until the embers die in the dust.

Wendy, on the other hand, with her trusty spade has been hard at it this week preparing vegetable beds for planting out. Up came the last of her potatoes and down came the autumn raspberries as they were cut back in readiness for spring to burst into life.

Next was preparing for our new pigs to arrive. After much hammering and sawing their shelter was complete and I’m sure they’ll be chuffed as we have got rid of the draughts. We gave it a lick of paint (a lovely shade of green) and filled it with fresh barley straw.

The battery for the electric fence was charged and we cleared the long grass around the paddock which could hamper its effectiveness.

The feed for them was organised and Wendy has been filling up a freezer with treats for weeks. We are keen juicers at breakfast time and each day this has created a bag full of fruit pulp with all sorts of tempting treats.

Wendy has so missed having pigs around the place over the last few months but after much anticipation, the weaners arrived, cute as ever. In the end we have brought in four females with a plan to keep one for breeding longer term. We have had a slight change of plan and alongside two of the Pietrain X Middle White we have plumped for two Old Spot X Middle Whites also.

So, picture the scene, two flocks of hens, one with 15 hens and one with 22. For whatever reason the smaller flock were living in the large house and the larger flock were in the small house. So, we decided to switch them around when cleaning out day came along this week.

Well, it was a fantastic idea at the time and although it all went like clockwork while moving them around, when it got to bedtime, the fun and games really began. You see, they obviously thought they had been out for a day trip and would return home to there own comfy roost at night but I’d gone and messed up those plans. So, instead of just meandering into there new home at dusk, as I had anticipated, they all marched up and down either side of the separating fence, just longing to get their heads down in their original beds.

Cutting a long story short, I had to physically carry each of the hens and place them in their new home. As you would expect, some were not overly keen on this and led me quite a merry dance, as they ran around the field and I re-enacted that scene from ‘Rocky II’, in the dark.

Thankfully, after repeat performances over the next two nights, they are now behaving themselves and bedding down as all good poultry should.

So, remember, never treat rehoming hens lightly, or you too will face the consequences...