The McCurdy flock

November 7th, 2013

I’ve wanted hens for years – not entirely sure just how many years, but many, many!  Last year, during some bad winds our lovely Laburnum tree fell over and had to be removed.  I was gutted, I loved that tree.  However from that loss I realised that it opened up a space at the end of the garden that had previously only had the compost heap in it.  Perfect size for a chicken coop, in fact.

David really wasn’t bothered about chickens (at least ones that he wouldn’t be eating any time soon), but wouldn’t stand in my way if I got them.  In fact David is interested in keeping owls – there’s plenty of rescue owls now thanks to parents buying owls for their children following the success of Harry Potter, and then realising that they’re a bit more of an involved pet than a hamster… but that’s another story).

Last year I cleared away a lot of the remains of the compost heap, and then left the ground over the winter to break down.  For my birthday people gave me money that I used to buy a coop and run, and Vicky bought me chicken bits and bobs too, including a fantastic book that I now refer to as the chicken bible. David was roped into building the coop , which led him to make the statement that we are never, ever buying flat packed furniture again…


The McCurdy flock residence

Although I do think he did a rather good job on it, don’t you think?

Over the May bank holiday Vicky took me to choose some hens, and fill the lovely coop with ladies.

Here they are:

The girls

The girls

This was taken on their first day with us, at 17 weeks old – they’ve definitely grown since then!  From left to right we have Barbara – a Blue Belle, Jerry – a Black Tail (which the guy who sold me them kept saying were the chickens Waitrose use for their eggs), and Margot – she’s a Maran and lays darker brown eggs.  Yes, I pretty much had to name them after The Good Life, but actually their names definitely suit them.  Barbara has a reputation for being the cheeky, naughty one but who everyone loves.  Jerry is a sweet thing (and secretly my favourite) and is a bit of an easy going soul, and Margot is definitely the bossy, blousy one with the fancy clothes.


Barbara and Margot, fluffy garden destroyers

They have such different personalities and they make me laugh so much at their antics (like when I feed them natural yoghurt which they love).  Although when they free range, they make me laugh and stress at the same time.  I can’t let them free range all day as I’m at work full time and don’t want to leave them in danger, so I have a large extension on the run for them that they can come and go as they please in but is secure.  I let them free range when I am in the garden and can stay with them.  However, they are completely disrespectful when it comes to gardens and they have already pretty much trashed mine!  Naively I didn’t realise how much grass they would dig up, having seen lots of Country Living style pictures of fluffy hens on bright green grass.  They’ll have a nibble at the grass, but are more interested in what’s underneath it in terms of bugs and worms so have scraped up large areas of grass, dug plants up, even knocked down little willow fences I had put in around my flower beds.    So I only let them do it to the point where I can’t take the damage any more, then entice them back to the run with mealworms or other treats.

The bonus of different sized eggs.  Barbara, Margot, Jerry

The bonus of different sized eggs. Barbara, Margot, Jerry

Everyone who hears about the chooks asks about their eggs – I always used to buy free range organic eggs so I was used to a nice, creamy egg, and my ladies’ eggs have been well complimented by the people I have given them to.  The first egg was laid by I think Barbara, and soon after Margot joined in.  Jerry’s eggs are still smaller than the others, but I don’t mind – it still feels like a real gift to check the nest boxes and find a warm, freshly laid egg – even though it’s happened for centuries and people take eggs for granted, it’s an almost humbling experience to have a 3 fluffy little creatures at the bottom of the garden who I get a huge amount of enjoyment from and who give me eggs every day.

So, 5 months in, a lot of very early mornings (especially in the summer months as they wake up at dawn), some stress over whether they are safe, are well and happy and a lot of eggs and garden damage I don’t regret a thing.  Even when escapee Barbara had me chasing her round the garden at 6 am, or when she landed in the pond…  My friend Mary used to say that the chickens she kept enabled her to cope with daily life, and they’ve certainly  been a tonic for me.  Chicken therapy – love it!


2 Responses to “The McCurdy flock”

  1. Annabellaon 07 Nov 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I never knew chickens could be so cute and pretty. Animal therapy is the best kind :D

  2. Vickyon 07 Nov 2013 at 11:37 pm

    What a happy journey and beautiful photos. Those girls are so lucky to have a home with you hon. I can certainly vouch for the yumminess of their eggs too. They make a killer omelette. Here’s to chicken therapy! :)

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