The Helen Mirren of the hen world

It struck me the other day that we’ve some veteran birds in our midst. The oldest member of the flock by a good six months or so – she must be knocking on five years old – is the Black Rock, a fine-looking hen with stunning iridescent plumage that ranges from bright copper to emerald and ebony. Like a stellar older actress, she shows up the young ones’ lack of polish. She is in remarkably good condition – I type that touching henhouse wood- rarely has any ailments, diligently carrying on with her vital work of scratching around and eating, though whether she’s still laying or not, I’m not too sure. This is when a nestcam – though perhaps a little too new world and technological to be true to the ancient art of henkeeping – would be most helpful.

Our beautiful Black Rock

Then there’s Beady who, I’m slightly ashamed to admit, intimidates both James and I with the eye that gave her that name. She’s like an old colonel who doesn’t take any nonsense and gives us a darn good stare whenever we enter the run. See  her twin aspects, as it were, below.

Beady's tiny pupil in her right eye gave her the name

I think perhaps she is more akin to Dame Maggie Smith with her intimidating presence – definitely a rival for the role of the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey.

Beady's other side

The next generation of poultry starlets which includes the tiny brown hen that never grew up and continues to lay very tasty, albeit bantam-like mini, eggs. But it really is Audrey, named after the 1960s super-chic film star, who steals the limelight.

The ever-lovely, elegant Miss Hepburn

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