What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Where are the Other Two?

Yesterday CC and I took a trip to a farm selling hens and met hundreds of them. Of most colours, sizes and all very noisy! The farmer reckoned that at three years old my hens were finished laying and offered to home them for me with his hens. He pointed out some “retired ladies” clucking happily amongst his own hens. This option offered me the opportunity to buy new laying hens and avoid the difficulties of introducing them to the older girls by removing the older girls altogether. it has always been my worry how to deal with introducing new hens into a well established flock. Apollo and Darling have not laid eggs for quite some months now and this is the time of year when new hens are at the “point of lay” at 16-18 weeks. It may seem very harsh but in the end it was an economic rather than an emotional choice. I keep hens for very different reasons to why we have dogs. Hens are not really pets. They are entertaining and pretty to look at but their purpose here is to provide eggs. We have already had to deal with the loss in the deaths of both Sweet Violet and Colonel Saunders. Apollo and Darling have not been disposed of but will hopefully enjoy their time as city birds retired to the country. The old hens have gone to live in a large community of old and young hens where two extra non laying mouths to feed are not a problem. 

So this morning our girls journeyed from the Big City to start a new life with lots of new friends out in the countryside. They appeared to be settling in well by the time I left.

Here are some of their new sisters – 

The eldest Gillyboy took these photos yesterday in anticipation of the departure of his feathered friends. I think they sum these lovely girls and their wonderful friendship up very well. Thanks Matthew.


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Writing 101- rumours in the coop

Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.
Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

Though the morning sun shone bright gold into the coop, there was a distinct chill in the air. Little Darling, Colonel Saunders and Apollo are out nervously scratching for bugs….

I’m not at all happy with what changes are being planned.
She can’t be serious.
Oh she is! I’ve seen her eyeing up our personal space. Measuring it for new comers I’ll bet.
Well, you’ve got to admit, we haven’t exactly been productive lately.
I try my best. But when a girl is losing her feathers there are more important things than laying an egg every day.
Well I’m not going to moved from my place on the roost.
Me neither. We’ve been here a long time. No new chicks with their fancy feathers are going to push me around.
I’d like to see them try- you’re a bit of a heavyweight.
Just because my plumage is glossier than yours, there’s no need to be jealous.
I’m not, I’m just stating facts. We need to start laying regularly again, all three of us, or things could get serious.
You must admit we have quite a good system going. She can’t actually tell which of us is laying, it could be just one, or all three on alternate days.
Good plan! I can’t understand why they call us “bird brains”
Anyway, we are internet celebrities, she can’t do away with us. Think of the scandal.
And as for Mr G, he’s just got the bill for our new coop. He’s worked out the cost per egg for keeping us far exceeds our worth.
But She wouldn’t. She loves us.
Still, I’ve seen that look in her eye when she’s googling all those fancy breeds. And her crestfallen face when the laying box is empty.
Here she comes! Look busy! And someone please go and lay an egg to keep us in her good books for another day.


Today’s blog post is an imagined conversation between the three hens in Mrs Gillybirds coop

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Early Risers

I have a hen with gender identity issues.

She, (Apollo), thinks she is a rooster. Or at least behaves like one. Ok, apart from laying an egg every day. She is bossy, noisy, nosey and king/queen of the coop. She has the glossiest most lustrous feathers. And did I mention she was noisy?
Yesterday was the August Bank Holiday. The last Monday of the year that you get to sleep in late, guilt free, until the Christmas holidays. Did we get to sleep in? No.
At 6.31 am most of us, and probably most of our neighbours, were awoken by Miss Apollo bawk-a-bawk-a-BAWK-A-BAWK ing welcoming what turned out to be a lovely late summer’s day, very,very early.
In a befuddled state I jumped out of bed, and padded across the grass (bare foot) to the coop to see what all the fuss was about.
Look, she said. I’ve laid an egg for you. It’s a lovely sunny day. Get up. Enjoy.
Have some stale toast I said, throwing it into the coop.
I returned to bed, leaving a trail of grass cuttings through the house, up stairs, and under the sheets.
Pulling the pillow over my head I tried to slip back into a good dream
not again.
Another trek across the grass.
Did you not hear me the first time? She clucked. I laid an egg, and now Darling has laid an egg. It’s Monday. The sun is shining. You should be up making me porridge and admiring our handiwork.

So in the end I got up, let the dogs out for a sniff, and had an early hot cup of tea enjoying the brilliance of a freshly cut new day.

Today the Gillyboys are back to school. The alarm went off like a siren at 6.45. It is a grey and damp day. To be honest, I’d rather be woken up by a chicken.

Of course, in my head, this is how I look every morning as I feed the Gillybirds!


KFC (kuriously feathered chicken)


Colonel Saunders continues to moult, under her belly is as bald as a freshly plucked chicken, (quite shocking) but she is still laying, which can occur but is not usual. Hens have around 8500 feathers. Moulting is not like in the cartoons, one sneeze and all the feathers fall off at once, leaving a very embarrassed hen…this has been going on for some weeks now. where once she was rusty red, she is now getting quite white, almost frosty looking.
Feathers are almost pure protein, so I’ve been adding extra nutrients to their diet. In days past, farmers added bone and bits of meat. Meat attracts vermin and predators, not to mention the dogs and also, bacteria and diseases can be transmitted through meat. Some people add dry cat kibble to their hens’ rations. Since most commercial pet food is made from meat of questionable sourcing this maybe isn’t the best plan for my organic girls either. I heard of a woman who feeds a tin of tuna everyday during the moult. I wouldn’t try this as the eggs may well taste fishy, and it’s quite expensive.
Bugs are a great source of protein, so if you allow your hens into the garden, they’ll clean up pests hiding in the old vegetation and at the same time get the additional nutrition that they need. It has been dry and bright for several weeks now, but extremely cold, and the girls have been enjoying roaming round the garden and dust rolling in the bare soil.
You can buy freeze-dried mealworms, they are 50% protein and the hens love them, but I’ve learnt recently that too many can trigger kidney failure. A teaspoon a per hen is plenty! Besides, mealworms are very pricey. Hulled sunflower seeds are an excellent source of protein and essential fats. Another option is to purchase a supplement formulated for moulting pet birds, like canaries. It’s high in protein and the nutrients needed for feather growth. With the added hope that after a dose or too of canary food the Gillybirds might start singing!


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