Night-time in the nesting boxes

I’ve been a little ‘mañana, mañana’ about writing my blog over the past few days – I put it down to being in Spain Sunday to Wednesday last week (look out for my piece about the Spanish cookery course I went on in the February 2012 issues of Country Living Magazine!).

Now the evenings are distinctly darker – it’s dark by 8pm at the Smallholdings lately – I can’t help reaching for the matches and logs to rustle up a comforting fire in the woodburning stove or fill a hot water bottle for that matter. And I’ve realised the hens share a similar desire for cosiness. Last night I discovered not only the usual naughty brown hen in the nesting boxes but two other hybrids either side opting for the warmth of straw rather than relying on the feathery company of their neighbours on the perches.

The old White Star trying her luck

Each one of the nesting boxes was occupied and I had to remove each warm and docile offender one by one and pop her back in the main coop where she belongs. I have to steal myself to do this as they seem so content, but if I left in the egg-laying area all night their droppings (they produce most overnight) will soil the next day’s eggs – and the less time cleaning and buffing eggshells the better, I say.  

The two Araucanas, Mabel (left) and Audrey (right), hanging out in the nesting boxes

The hybrids aren’t the only nestbox-loving chickens, though. The two Araucanas (AKA Terrible Twins) never had the instinct to perch and despite James and my best efforts – which included putting them to bed every night – they never learned to do so either. Still, at least they eventually learned to go back into the house at night – at the ripe old age of six months. Until then, we found them in a feathery heap in their run after dark. I blame the parents.

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