For a long time now I have dreamed of keeping chickens. I have a romantic notion of waking up and popping on my wellies to nip out into the garden and collect my freshly laid eggs for breakfast. Orkney Beef has always been reluctant thanks to a former life working in pest control and always maintaining that with hens comes rats, so it’s been a no for our entire marriage. (a mere four and a half years but who’s counting?) However sometime before Christmas he must’ve had a moment of weakness as he arranged for Santa to stuff a hen house down the chimney and I am now the proud owner of three new hens.
I don’t know what planet I was on when I went to collect them but my romantic notions clearly continued. I thought I would go along and point out the three fluffy little chooks that caught my eye. Not so. One man lifted the lid off the wooden crate while another grabbed the first three that stuck their heads out the top and plonked them into my cardboard box then sent me on my way. ‘They’ll be laying by a couple of weeks” he told me. A couple of weeks? I was thinking a couple of hours and I would have more eggs than I knew what to do with. The learning curves continued as when we arrived back at head quarters I put the hens into their new abode and sat back and waited, frying pan at the ready. The hens did absolutely nothing. Zilch, nada, zero. They just stood looking at each other and regular checks through the day made me begin to wonder if they were ornaments I’d taken home they moved so little. Furious internet searching told me to calm down and they were just getting used to their new surroundings. OK fair enough but tomorrow……
Unfortunately several storms managed to coincide with the arrival of the hens so early days involved me dressing up in full waterproof gear, trooping down the garden whilst trying to not blow over and hold onto their magic laying food at the same time. (It’s not that magic as it’s currently not working) They refused to leave the hen house for the first week and I quickly became their servant providing food, water and lodgings and cleaning out endless amounts of poop. They are at least free ranging in the day now and much more settled and happier but still no eggs and it will be three weeks on Friday. With all the time money and effort involved in looking after these little darlings I think the unit cost of the eggs when they finally arrive will be something like £465 each. But I’m a girl of hope, always have been and I look forward to a day soon when I can make the worlds most expensive omelette.
In other news we appear to have a rat.