Thursday 29 December 2011

The arrival of our new chickens

After what seemed like weeks of anticipation we set off to collect our new chickens from the British Hen Welfare Trust on the 28th December. Our pick up time was 3.45 so we knew we probably wouldn't get to see much of the girls that night but could look forward to getting to know them over the remainder of the Christmas holidays. We turned up at the collection point and after picking up another bag of food (as the shops wouldn't be open) and some bedding we made our way into the collection shed. We had put down to have 5 new girls, and as our eyes adjusted to the shed we got our first glimpse of them as the volunteers brought them out and put them into our carriers. First impressions were that they didn't look too bad but there were two who were in a bit of a state, one with just the quills of her feathers remaining on her wings and a smaller girl who seemed to have lost most of her body and tail feathers with just the white downy under feathers showing. The journey home took about half an hour and then we lifted them into their new (or as one of my friends refers to it their forever) home. This photo was taken wth the hen who made the biggest impression, Bellatrix, top hen as far as she was concerned she had a good go at pecking my jacket and Jam's finger when he tried to move the ramp for her the next day. She was also definitely the noisyest when we were getting the back door open. After spending the following day outside talking & generally watching them names were quickly decided, I stuck with a Harry Potter theme for all but one, so let me introduce you to them.
Bellatrix/big bird (also the chicken I'm holding in the top picture)- Bellatrix takes no nonsense from anyone and as well as being one of the biggest is also definitely the most noisy. Upon hearing the back door unlocked in the morning she starts chatting to be let out immediately, also if you say hello to the girls its usually Bellatrix who will answer for all of them. 
Completely different is Ginny, the baldest girl we have, Ginny is a meek little thing but already great improvements have been seen in her comb and plumage plus she was the first one of the girls to find a worm and successfully deal with it, clever little Ginny, she is usually second out of the coop after Bellatrix (because they have both worked out they get mealworms in the morning) and makes soft coos if she hears you outside the coop.
Next up we have Aurora, named after the goddess of the dawn as when she spreads her wings it looks like a golden sun, her damage wasn't as bad as Ginny as she at least had some tail feathers but her wing feathers have very much been reduced to quills. Despite this she is quite cheeky and spends most of her time trying to work out ways to test the coop defences or 'helping' me when I go into the coop.

Mineva - very similar in looks to Bellatrix but not as noisy, can usually be found near Trelawney after having a bit of a disagreement with Bellatrix on the first day. Mineva is really handsome & we've seen great improvements in her comb as well as her initial shyness.
And finally last but my no means least Trelawney, Trelawney worried me a little at first as she didn't seem to want to come out of the coop and was snicking (its sneezing but apprently chickens can't quite sneeze the same way as humans). I phoned the vet and he said it was likely a cold and dispatched instructions that we were to keep her fed and warm & keep a good eye on her. Having done so the snicking seems to have stopped but she still likes to be in the hen house if given the choice. So there they are my little brood, we are getting  2-3 eggs a day but my main concern is that the girls get back to their beautiful selves as soon as possible. At the moment they get mealworms in the morning and corn at night, I can't wait for the days to get longer so I can see them properly when I get up and spend some time with them after work. Some of our first external visitors were my friend Fi and her son Alex. Alex wasn't too sure of the chickens (recognising their dinosaur roots maybe?) but was prepared to be convinced when we told him there might be an egg in the nest box). As luck would have it there was so Alex took it home for his tea and here is Alex complete with chicken cusion holding his egg carefully!

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