On the evenings when James is out and I walk home from the station, I can take a short cut through the willow beds and into the garden via the wilder part at the end. It was dusky last night as I did so and, the weather being dank and dull, I thought the chickens would be tucked up on their perches in the coop, so I could close it up for the night. I looked into the run and sure enough there weren’t any hens scratching about outside. Opening the gate very carefully and quietly so as not to alert them to a potential intruder, I stepped as lightly as possible across the ground to the door of their undercover run to find two brown hens having a bit of late supper together – the others were in the house as expected.
As soon as the pair made a sound, which I’m guessing was a kind of alert to their flock, the rest came tumbling out of the pop-hole and my mission of locking them up early for the night was thwarted. Instead, I reached into the corn bin and gave them a little bedtime treat before retiring to the house for my own supper: one of their beautiful eggs, poached.
Seeing those two birds feasting after the rest had retired for the evening made me think that there must be scope for a documentary about the secret life of hens – OK, perhaps it wouldn’t be quite as fascinating as the recent programme about cats, who free range not just around gardens but entire villages. However, I’d love to see how they behave when we’re not around. And I must get round to installing that nestcam so we can work out who’s laying what. Does anyone have one of these already?