I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas as we set off for Athenry to get our first free-range chickens.
CATCHING THE HENS
First of all we picked out two white hens. They were Snowdrops, a breed known for its friendly qualities as well as being great egg layers.
Next we chose one Columbian black tail and finally after much deliberation – a Copper Star.
The owner chased them around for a while until she cornered them. Then she whooshed them up with a large net.
Despite this indignity the hens seemed quite happy as they were packed into a cardboard box.
While they were being packed up I couldn’t help but notice that the cardboard box came from a pile of cardboard boxes marked ‘chicken nuggets.’
I couldn’t decide whether this was ironic, or just plain strange.
NOT A QUACK
I thought the hens would be noisy but they made the trip to our house in complete silence.
Neither of us have ever handled hens and we were a bit nervous about getting them into the chicken-run.
We were half expecting to be greeted by enraged hens all flapping and flying when we opened the box but there was no flapping, no flying and no rage.
The little group of hens just toddled out and walked around curiously as they checked out their new home.
OUR FIRST POO!
It was great to find an egg in the box and another one in the coup later on.
OUR FIRST FREE RANGE EGGS
Finding two eggs on our first day with the hens was a great bonus for us.
The eggs tasted gorgeous, fresh and tasty with a rich yellow yolk.
We also had discovered the first of many hen poos, or soil nutrients as the professionals like to call it.
We are looking forward to using this in our compost.
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS – HEN STYLE
No, I wasn’t dreaming about the Midnight Express bit because here’s the picture to prove it.
See! I told you so!
Anyway, the little thespians spent the rest of the day busy scratching around in their new home and seemed fine when we left them to settle in.
We were a bit surprised when we checked on them later last night to find them all squashed together, perched on the roof of the hen-house
Apart from a little flutter or two – they came quietly. We put them inside the house, shut the door and hoped for the best.
When we opened up this morning they toddled down the plank looking like wobbly sailors.
However, once they it the ground they commenced work immediately.
They worked hard too – scratching, digging and adding lot of poo, sorry soil nutrients, to the vegetable beds.
Hens are great multi-taskers. Not only do they provide tasty free range eggs they sure do fantastic work on the soil.
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