Confessions of a poultry fancier


One of our White Stars enjoying the June sunshine
One of our White Star hyrbrids enjoying the June sunshine

I’m still on a lonely hearts-style quest to find Audrey a fellow lady companion. It’s highlighted that a) there’s definitely a gap in the market for Araucana breeders in East Anglia, and b) To my horror, I’m a bit of a poultry fancier, ie quite fussy about the look of our new recruit. When it comes to hens I thought I was pretty laid back. But this week I’ve surprised myself by reeling off a list of must-have criteria that I would usually guffaw at. It reads…

– Barely visible pea comb
– Fully crested head
– Plenty of muffling around the face
– Upright tail

I made this alarming self-discovery last weekend when I was fully prepared to drive beyond Ipswich, around an hour from the Smallholdings, to collect a ‘Red Splash’ (ginger and white) pullet that I’d tracked down on the internet until her picture came through on an email from the breeder. The said bird had none of the features that I now realise I adore in Audrey – crucially, it was missing the pom-pom or top-knot.

Audrey sunning herself among the dandelions
Audrey sunning herself among the dandelions

I’m sure I would have come to love her once she settled in, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to drive all that way for a chicken that I wasn’t smitten with. I sheepishly replied to the owner and continued my search. I’m now crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to collect a lavender number located in Newmarket – which ticks all the boxes – this weekend, but the breeders haven’t yet committed to selling her. If the purchase falls through, I’m tempted to hold out until James and I visit Chagford in Devon at the end of the month when we could make a trip to see Gillian Dixon at South Yeo Farm East near Okehampton, the origin of our young Ixworth flock, as she also breeds Araucanas. Are there any other henkeepers out there on similar chicken crusades?

James has been strimming the nettles that have almost taken over the inner chicken run. We hope that by keeping them clear we can encourage the grass to grow back (note our German Shepherd Darcy trying to blend in with the flock, top right)

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