Saturday, 1 November 2014

Chicken Chat.

The problem with hens in general and ex battie hens in particular is that they don't tend to last long enough. I like to think the ex-batties have a few years of freedom and happy retirement and they certainly do seem to enjoy their time out of the battery cages. I've  reluctantly come to terms with the fact that my little flock will wax and wane as some come and some go and as long as they are loved and cared for and don't suffer I can accept that, albeit with a few tears at each little chickeny death. I can't sing the praises of my chicken vet enough. It's a fifty mile round trip to take my chickens to her at Falcon Vets in Carlisle. Edda is a genius where birds are concerned, people travel many miles to take their exotic parrots and birds of prey to her and I travel a few miles to take my chickens. She and accepts that in my household every chicken is a valued family member. She gets that, quite simply, I love them. I know that Edda will apply her formidable knowledge and experience and treat anything treatable and when it's not she does the gory deed for me with compassion and understanding. She shares her knowledge, explaining the weird vagaries of chicken anatomy and physiology and I've learned a lot from our consultations.
 Over the year we've lost PomPom the silkie rather unexpectedly and sadly traumatically, and Evie and Betty, both who succombed to tumours common in commercial laying hens. Evie was the ex-battie who did such a sterling job of hatching her eggs and Betty was the the last of the original girls who made it to a pretty impressive 4 1/2 years which is pretty good for a caged battery hen. She was one of the last 'A4' hens, from the cages that allowed each hen the same paltry space as an A4 sheet of paper for their whole existence.These days in the battery farms they get fractionally more room in their 'enhanced' cages that mislead people into thinking there is no such thing as a battery hen anymore.Unfortunately that's not true.  Betty lived twice as long out of that environment and slept her way  out peacefully last week. She was an absolute character who had taken to breaking into the house at every opportunity.
Rolf - This is not acceptable.
Betty - I know, this chair ain't big enough for the both of us!
That left me with two ex batts, Minnie and Nellie and the two cockerels Tweetie Pie and The Gonk who was formerly known as Sumo and Fluffball, they always grow their own names and The Gonk has stuck! Clearly more wives were needed. I decided to get a couple of ex batts from Hens 4 Homes, a brilliant  local rescue centre that is run by Kathryn, a young woman who works extremely hard to save 'used' ex battery hens from mass slaughter. I say 'used' rather ironically because they still have a lot of living and egg laying to do, but their eggs might not always be the perfect supermarket specimen that's demanded.
 I decided to also buy a couple of silkies as having now got used to having a fluffy chicken around I find myself rather taken with them. I think they are so fab. Off I toddled to the Canny Chicken Company for my two silkies. Here they are.

Gold Silkie - Bonjour!

Blue Silkie- Allo!

Wheaten Silkie - Bienvenue!

White Silkie - Bonjour mes amis!
You might notice that there are slightly more than two. Well, how was I to know there would be a selection of colours? Really, all I can say is thank goodness there weren't any more colours available! We have no names yet although the white one is quite a show-girl so I'm thinking Lola might stick, and the gold one reminds me of a Jay so seems to getting called Jay-Bird! The others will grow their own names soon.For some reason they have French accents despite being of Cumbrian/Oriental roots. I think it's because they are such chic chickens.
Tweetie Pie (who still has a Spanish accent to complement his flamboyant ways) was delighted to meet them and treated them to a lovely song and dance display which truly astounded them. I think they were quite relieved there were bars between them!

                                    Tweetie Pie - Oh my goodness!What beautiful laydees! I wheel dance and sing hespecially forr you!! Never haf you seen such a handsome and talented cockerel... no??
                                        Silkies - Astounded silence.

Once they are all settled and integrated I'll collect a couple of ex batts to add to the mix. I had no idea that these feathered critters would be so addictive! Or so interesting, amusing and rewarding. 


  1. So sorry to hear about the lovely Betty. The new chicks look gorgeous and I think Lola is a wholly appropriate name for the white one. Can't wait to meet them all. xx

    1. They are very skittish! Different in every way from ex-batties. But just as watchable!

    2. That's our Xmas party taken care of then ;)

    3. I hope you're not suggesting we eat Lola!!!!! :-o