Cheep show

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The Ixworths are growing so rapidly now that we opened up the henhouse to let them into their undercover run this week. Fully cat-proof, it’s a good halfway house between being cooped up and free-ranging in the great outdoors. Possibly slightly overwhelmed by the idea of exploring their new kingdom, the six-week-olds seemed quite reluctant to venture out at first, clustering around the pop-hole as if they were daring each other to be the first to set foot in the straw-lined enclosure. Well, that’s what I thought until I put the time in and used the lean-to next to the henhouse as a hide. I stood perfectly still, was mousey quiet and just watched – sure enough, the flock soon emerged to explore.

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Continuing to observe them through the cobweb-covered chickenwire, I began to feel a little like a peeping Tom. Clearly, they’re just a little shy around us, because as soon as I moved, they scurried back up into the coop. And so each time we’ve opened up the gate to their undercover run this week, they probably heard us coming and did the same! Note to self: must spend more time handling them and getting acquainted. How many are cockerels and how many are hens remains to be seen, though the tail feather theory seems quite a good one, considering some are definitely upright and others point downwards.

Elsewhere on the Smallholdings, the hybrid flock continue to enjoy their newly extended run – ever curious, they enjoy nothing better than sticking their beak into our business while we potter about fixing the fence and gate. Those brown hens are delightful creatures!

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