Having picked up the meat chickens last Saturday from our friend Ken, we discovered that they were far smaller than we’d expected – and had prepared for! Cobb chickens are quick-growing so although we’ve raised them for the table before, it was their enormous size at around four months that remained in our memories – not their diminutive month-old proportions! So last weekend, we put the task of erecting electric fencing for the pig run aside and instead adapted the house and run for our new flock. Our main concern was the strong possibility of Beau, our Bengal cat and expert hunter, entertaining himself by predating these defenceless creatures (he doesn’t attempt full-size poultry, just likes to chase them occasionally). Another fear was that, if they ventured into their outside run, a sparrowhawk we’ve recently spotted in the area could swoop down and snap them up.
Proofing the house and undercover run against both these scenarios was therefore top priority – we chicken-wired everything in a bid to seal their digs, adding a gate, which James made from odd pieces of wood and bolts we already had. It was fiddly work and took the whole of Sunday to complete. We’re really pleased with the result and are enjoying seeing the miniature flock already growing, but it means we’re seriously behind for our pair of Gloucestershire Old Spots which we’re picking up on Sunday. Given that James is at work tomorrow morning, the afternoon is going to be Project Fence – quite possibly by torchlight if that’s what it takes! We have, however taken delivery of a very fine ark, from Sussex-based company Ardingly Arks. James and I even got inside it the other night to test it out before the porcine tenants arrive and can testify its quality. Once lined with plenty of straw, it should prove a suitably cosy residence.
Then, of course, we’ll have the very exciting but challenging task of choosing the weaners we’re going to take home. This may take some time. Below is some of the litter pictured at a fortnight old six weeks ago – which two will we come back with…?!