Tuesday 26 July 2016
My hens are more "free living" than "free range". They are only ever shut in if the weather is extremely bad or I need to keep the cockerels from crowing outside windows when guests are staying! So mostly they come and go as they please. No natural predators on Graemsay, no foxes, badgers, stoats etc so even a hen with chicks is relatively safe - as long as she keeps guard from crows and gulls!
When mowing the grass they turn into real drama queens, scuttling around squawking but at the same time rushing to get the insects that fly up as I mow, or eat the cut grass. Such silly things! Above is the back of the house and the rather overgrown shrubbery! The hens use this as shelter in winter and summer. So they usually have a protected "run" whatever the weather. The old flagstones were dug up from inside and around the house when it was renovated 16 years ago. They are wonderful but blooming heavy so haven't moved since!
Here they have rushed to eat the first cut grass....
Their henny hoose is at the end here. The building belongs to a neighbour but he did it up for me and lets me keep my hens here. He wasn't impressed when I'd shown him pictures of fancy wooden "arks" for poultry, fearing they would be blown Westwards in the first gale! He was probably right as that happened (sadly) during the hurricane force winds in the 1950s which decimated the poultry industry in Orkney.
Big Ginger challenging my wee John Deere tractor mower. Yeah right Ginge! Not so bold when it has the engine running! Fear The Deere! Ha!
And of course if I'm late with delivering breakfast (which I have been this last week) the girls are knocking on the door. This lot look as if they're trying to work out how to get in through the cat flap!
And here comes Tallula (Shetland Black hen) with a friend or two to join in....
The young brown hen has her first chick on parade. I don't interfere much now. I used to try and "help" the hens, but they know what is best! Mostly the hen will keep the chick in the byre for a few weeks, and only take the chick out into the long grass for short periods. But once all the feathers have grown they can move pretty fast themselves and the hen then brings them into the henny house to feed. The other hens can be really rough with a young chick, peck it, step on it etc, so the hen seems to know by instinct to keep it separate till it can fend for itself. I have two chicks but not sure whether they are male/female yet....sigh..... no more cockerels PLEASE! Desperate to get rid of the three I already have!