They have arrived! bought a local paper yesterday, brown POL hens £8, could not resist, so following instructions, up the hill, down the hill, straight bit of road, don't turn left to Wrelton, we arrive at a small sawmill, with grandpa sitting outside and the family in the open shed discussing wood, large sackfuls at a reasonable price for the log fire here as well.
I pick three out of a couple of dozen, asking if they have red mite, a bit of indignation there! Then I ask to hold one, quite heavy and that rather pretty brown and white mottling strikes me as attractive. We box them, and they are duly put in the hutch and run. Already I see with these large hens they need more space, another run is already ordered, and we discuss fencing the area between the church wall and oil tank.
Dominance was already being displayed in the pen later on, she may go back!! (Think this one has been named by LS as Desdemona, the other two might be Hetty and Harriet if I go in for naming hens )But apparently 4 days on the 'naughty step' or being separately confined will probably do the trick and it is all a bit more stressful at the moment...
I had given up on bantams, though cousin Sue in Cornwall said she would find me some when they came down in September. But today it is my family calling in on their way for another few days at the cottage. The weather is going to be good this week I believe. This started me worrying about getting in 'stores' for feeding people, for instance a 'roast', we rarely cook large pieces of meat. My family are like a pack of hungry mice devour all the packet of biscuits, and there is only a few shortbreads at the moment. I had planned to bake a fruit cake this morning, eccles cakes yesterday but none of them will eat dried fruit in cakes, the 'likes' and 'dislikes' of a large family can be a nightmare when it comes to producing food.
Tom the eldest said at the age of three that he was allergic to cheese, and that was that, although his mum smuggled cheese into his food without any harmful affects. Never touched it since, Ben is mostly vegetarian a bit like me, and as for the girls, it is a compromise......Well at least the hens are not fussy.
I was a child when first introduced to hens, holidays on farms, or to be more precise being sent away in the school holidays because there was no one to look after us led me into the fascinating world of livestock. In Wales, not far from where BoveyBelle lives, a real Welsh smallholding, I remember going out to a neighbouring farm for a hen to eat. The men caught one, wrung its neck and then offered it to me to take back to the car, grinning away. Well we should all know why they were grinning, a chicken has automatic motion still in its body after death, believe it can run round headless... this one flapped its wings as I carried it to the car so I dropped it in sheer fright...
Killing a chicken for the table, was commonplace in those 'olden days', and at the farm in Rugeley I would see a fowl killed and then help pluck it, a first time introduction to red mite. Roast chicken, bread sauce, onion sauce, roast potatoes and a helping of vegetables, delicious.