Hens and holidays

August is animal-sitting month. People with menageries, including us, need a bit of help when they go away. Having admired our chickens Araucanas Audrey and Mabel, friends Suzie and Lee decided to get their own birds and did so with gusto. They’re now on a week’s holiday in Dorset and I’m enjoying looking after the flock along with our own.

They started with one coop, but that wasn’t enough: now they’ve two houses and a gorgeous assortment of resident point-of-lay pullets.

I believe this is a Polish Frizzle – looks like my Araucana Audrey with a perm

The ultra-keen nature of the new henkeepers has highlighted how blasé I’ve become about creating interest for my lovely birds.

Suzie cooks a saucepan of potatoes and beans as a treat, a portion of which I dish out each morning, plus peas that she encourages them to eat out of her hands.

She also fills plastic ball-shaped containers with corn – the toy dispenses the grain when the girls kick it about, so they have a steady stream of their favourite snack.

Suzie and Lee’s very pretty Polish hen

These days, I do so little for my own flock in comparison, it’s been a timely reminder that I need to inject a bit more excitement into their lives than the odd handful of corn and portion of greens. Inspired by this example, James and I are planning to build a climbing frame of wooden offcuts and branches, cook vegetables especially for our girls’ consumption and pop some toys in their run, too. They certainly deserve a bit of pampering in return for those beautiful orange-yolked eggs – the centrepiece of weekend brunches.

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