Today, I choose to leave the turbid* angst of the 'Festive' season behind and post about chickens.
Well, Chicken houses, to be precise.
Do you remember that ages ago we bought one of those packing cases off eBay for twenty quid, with a view to turning it in to a chicken house?
This is what it looks like, once we have lugged it up to the top of the garden (in two bits, it's VERY heavy) and I've sawed holes in it, put a drawbridge in and stuck it on legs (posts that sit in metapost spikes that you bang in to the ground). It's so heavy that it just sits on the top of them quite happily, and we have constructed a pen around the underneath, with a lifty-up lid at the end to put feed underneath and keep it dry**; and tacked some plastic sheeting over the top to keep the rain off; although I don't think it really needs it, as it's thick cedar (I think) and has been varnished.
The Pekin Family (similar to the Partridge Family, but with heavier-weight socks) are living in it very comfortably; there are two cockerels and four hens and there's loads of space for them. We've paved the bottom with flagstones to keep their feet out of the wet and they seem very happy.
Some days Cruella DeVil Chicken*** goes in with them and one day last week the Ex Cockerel was in there too, although there wasn't a great deal of head-room for him. So I would say that the box is big enough for six or eight bantams or three or four medium sized hens and their cockerel, but doesn't really have the headroom for heavy breeds.
All in all, we are very pleased with it.
The five laying hens and George their husband (named after B's uncle who bought them for us) are living in a converted 5ft by 7ft shed on the other side of the garden. They have a perch and a droppings board underneath it, and lots of space to scratch around inside if the weather isn't great for them to go out.
Yesterday we put a proper chicken-sized door in for them, rather than propping open the main door; and we started to bring up the enormous slabs from the front of the house to pave a small pen for them. And we put in a nest box. Mary and Sandra (named after the adoption social workers), the two Barnvelder hens, are starting to make 'we want to lay an egg' noises. They're eighteen weeks old now, so it shouldn't be long.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is all for today.
Oh, except in other news - we understand that the new neighbours are going to be moving in up the hill next week. We are hoping they're going to be friendly and I want to ask them if they'll sell us some field. But it's a difficult subject to bring up; I don't want to get off with them on the wrong foot.
* Is this a word? If not, it should be.
** Note the use of the Houseladder 'For Sale' board as part of the pen. I think we've decided we're not going to move after all. Although no final final final decision being made until we've spoken with the new neighbours.
*** She's an Exchequer Leghorn - black and white, and is barking mad - we debated calling her Eva after one of B's Great Aunts, who could allegedly cause a fight in an empty house and ended her days in a nursing home telling everyone who would listen that Prince Charles was about to come and take tea; but that seemed rather unfair. However, I am seriously considering seeing if I can swap her for a more placid hen; she runs round madly all the time, doesn't settle to anything and fidgets constantly. She has also got it in for Exploding Chicken's Sister, who is very placid and a bit of a wimp.