‘Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.‘*
Please note: Cutest pictures are further down the page…!
Sadly, we’ve said goodbye to five of our chickens in five months this year. Well, for the small bantam that was whisked away by a neighbour’s cat, we didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye! My beloved Butternut, a Buff Orpington and star of BBC’s The One Show, was the first to go in January, she was one of our oldest girls and had delighted many children and adults alike with her cuddly appearance and gentle demeanour. Three of the tiny bantams were next, then Madge, another one of our cover girls featured on the front of our postcard, became very ill, unable to recover, earlier this month. On top of all these losses, my beautiful cat, Sapphire, didn’t make it through last month at the age of 19 years. I was very sad to lose Sapphire, I had lived with her longer than I’ve lived with my husband!
I dried my eyes and began to hatch a plan.
We would restock the flock by giving Bunty, hatched here herself back in 2011, some fertile eggs to sit on. She had never tried this before but had been broody on many occasions in recent years. Telltale signs are that she refuses to leave the nesting box, growls if you try to remove eggs from under her, plucks the feathers from her breast (to remove all insulation from her warmth and humidity) and fluffs herself out to spread herself over as many eggs as possible.
As Aesop wisely said, ‘Do not count your chickens before they are hatched’
You never can tell which are fertile, which will survive the 21 day incubation period and then how many are girls, who stay, and boys who go.
We have usually just bought 6 fertile eggs, delivered by post, from chicken breeders across the country and hatching rates have been as low as just 1 or 2 making an appearance in previous years.
However, this year we took advice from Gillian at South Yeo Farm East and tried 12 eggs under Bunty, who herself is a Bantam Chocolate Orpington hatched from eggs that I won in a Twitter competition!
So how many chickens can we count?
Out of the 12 eggs, 10 have safely hatched; 5 of each of the breeds that we chose; Pekin Bantams and Polish Frizzles.
We don’t know which are boys or girls and will just let them grow together, happily roaming around the garden as they get bigger.
So that takes us up to 21 chickens here at Hen Corner!
If you’d like to see them for yourself, and maybe have cuddle, check out the courses that we have coming up soon, or pop along to the Brentford Food Festival during Half Term.
We are running a workshop on Wednesday 27th May and will be bringing these cuties with us!
Coming up at the Corner – Half Term Specials!
We would love to welcome you to one of our courses that we have running right throughout the year. The next few weeks brings Intro to Bee Keeping, Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London and a new course, Bread: Sweet & Savoury. During Half Term, 25th – 29th May, we have all-age courses with Family Feathers and Fun! on Tuesday and Pizza Together on Thursday. I’m sure that Bunty will be proudly displaying her new chicks as a special treat to all our Half Term visitors.
- Our bees are doing well and seem to have accepted their nice gentle queen
- We’ve had several school groups come to visit the baby chicks
- The planting out has begun in the kitchen garden with crops neatly protected under net cloches
Jobs for this week:
- Keep topping up the food and water for the chicks
- Welcome Martin, our documentary photography student, to take pictures of our hive inspections
- Look forward to our Half Term specials!
Join us on the Journey!