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Hen Huggers R Us

Been a while !!!

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As the title says it's been some time since we posted on here, at least 2 years, so much has happened in our chicken enhanced lifestyle. So it started with - where it came from I am not sure, (Jamie Oliver I think) - "let's get some chickens", my beloved said. I picked myself up off the floor, "and where do they go" I said, "in the garden", NO !!!!!! not my garden they will wreck it. Not long after 3 chickens, coop, and run sat proudly at the bottom of my garden. To say I was sceptic was an understatement but now they were here, it did look quite good - soon number 4 followed (great wedding anniversary present for my wife). Well I was soon softened by their nature and antics they got up to - feathery land sharks was nearer the mark. Nothing grew in the garden any more that was less than 2ft off the ground, but I was converted. With great summer evenings sat on our bench under the Pagoda, sipping wine, a little supper only to be mugged by the girls then watch them go to bed full and happy, we looked round at the garden full of dust baths and bare lawn. "Lets grow some veg" my beloved said ,"Where can we do that with vultures combing the area?", "You know. Landshare. Hugh has mentioned it". So Kath registered, and within weeks, a reply arrived for an opportunity only 5 minutes drive away. A very generous landowner, who had hens of his own, offered us his 3/4 acre field and a huge converted brick built dog kennel for the girls (free my I add), the offer didn't need thinking about. The girls needed to get out in a bigger and better environment so we snatched his hand off and moved them in. After a couple of weeks being sworn enemies with the new neighbours, they began to get along fine. We discussed how the growing was to be done. The land owner spent some time working away so all he asked was to just water his veggies and that was the deal. We agreed to go halves on a Poly tunnel, so at the earliest opportunity - the following spring - up it went: 25'x 10' half ours and 2 outdoor beds. We were potential small holders !! Paul (landowner) came up with Idea to get an incubator and eggs; his daughters would love to see little chicks hatch at Easter, so we went halves, and with some moderate success the flock became nearer 30 strong. With no idea how to grow veggies, the 1st year was always going to be hit and miss, but we did okay, the usual: spuds, carrots, lettuce, onions, strawbs, loads of herbs and a ton of tomatoes. The little chicks got bigger and as we expected we ended up with some cockerels too. We sadly lost a couple of the girls one to sour crop the other we aren't sure why. We didn't realise until it was too late, but we now know the signs to look out for. Yet the biggest disaster struck. Always being wary of foxes, we never expected a mink. It wiped out half of the flock in one go. We were devastated. A lot of hard work gone. It came back a few days later, thankfully Paul was on hand and got it!! The cockerels got a bit out of hand but the food chain was always in the equation (not again though). So the second year has begun, a little wiser and a flock of about 14. We plan to grow a variety again. Oh hold on. What now? "Let's start my own business", my beloved said. Is there enough years left in life to fit any more in ? but you guessed it, it's happened! www.sweetandtemptingcreations.co.uk (Plug Plug !!) It really is very good and early trading is positive. So back to this year. Working on the allotment on my own mainly at the moment - the Easter rush means Kath is working her part time job then her business until midnight quite regularly, but seedlings are well on their way. The outdoor beds have spuds coming up onions doing well and a variety of veg is to be planted soon, indoors: garlic, shallots, onions and strawbs, herbs are already out of control, everything is well ahead, the heat in there is stifling at times, great growing conditions. So from a what I thought was a wild idea has become our little, no, BIG project !!! Yet things do get a little better. Early this morning, the first of the now naturally conceived hatch-lings appeared and Hugh IS the daddy !!! That's the cockerels name, quite apt I would say. The mummy is one of last year's newcomers. So there is the update. It's taken 2 years to find time to fit it in; with hard work it can be done and never a dull moment. So here is to 2011 *downs the rest of the Shiraz* Bye for now. The Hen Huggers.

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