Two little hens

The inseparable – and camera-shy – Mabel (left) and Audrey emerge from their run to range freely around the garden

Audrey and Mabel made the most of the beautifully bright and sunny day last Sunday and seemed to enjoy pottering about. It was lovely to see them out in daylight, a refreshing change to the usual Monday to Friday routine of trekking across the garden in the dark at 6am with a torch to lower their food (we keep it suspended from a hook overnight in a somewhat futile attempt to deter vermin), refresh their water, open up their pop-hole and whisper ‘Good morning’. They’re usually asleep in the two straw-lined nesting boxes (they never learned to perch – we accepted their wilful ways long ago) looking appealingly snug, with no intention of emerging for some time. Of course, they don’t leave the coop until daybreak due to the fact they, like all chickens, can’t see in the dark. How very sensible to live by the light, I can’t help thinking.

Hens need treats to help them through winter, just as we do. After a roast lunch last Sunday, I cooked potato, carrot and parsnip peelings and left-over cabbage and mixed these up with cod liver oil and oats, which helps them keep warm. We had a hard frost the next morning, so this extra boost of calories should have done the trick.

I’ve taken Monday and Tuesday next week as holiday and will be mostly at home so, among other things, I’m looking forward to hanging out with Audrey, Mabel and the hybrids. It’s great sometimes just to wander down to their runs, throw them some corn and take time to watch and appreciate them. I think I’ll also take a leaf out of their book and not get up in the dark, but wait until the sun wakes me.

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