Well after reading another blog about Chickens (see my links)
We decided that it was most certainly acceptable to keep chickens as a hobby.
Despite one or two of our neighbours moaning behind our backs and behind closed doors we went ahead and welcomed into our garden four hens..
Harriet - Sapphire - Speckle - Amber
Sometimes you just have to accept that you can please some of the people some of the time and for the rest of it ... well, get a life...

Having now moved out into the countryside we have no neighbours so have 13 hens and 2 very nosey cockerals!!


Firstly a huge " THANK YOU" to JUDE SCOTT at
COTWOLD CHICKENS - This lady was really helpful and gave us loads of time, useful and advice and support.

If you too like us feel the need to expand your knowledge and desire for the good life!




Sunday, 26 August 2007


Just a quick update on Sapphires eggs - since the soft shelled egg and the strange long egg, (which had a double yoke) they now are perfectly normal looking and with hard shells.
They all look very similar but vary in size - really looking forward to seeing what Speckle produces...


We do officially have three laying hens... Harriet is the early bird, followed closely by Sapphire and then today Amber was actually caught in the act!
Neither Sapphire or Amber make the same loud announcement as Harriet which every morning brings a smile to our faces as although its only a little loud clucking for 20/30 seconds I know it gets right up our neighbours noses - if only they were a little understanding I would give them the pleasure of tasting the delights.

Free-range chickens in our garden has opened up a whole new discussion in our house between the children about animal cruelty and factory farming.
Harrison had been looking on "You tube" at videos of chickens and they listed a lot on factory farming he watched some and had become very distressed, I did sit and explain what I could to him but I can't justify all the bad things in the world. (In fact Factory Farming really isn't justifiable at all)
Although my intention was not to turn any of them vegetarian it was a very close call. However having said that if any of the boys wanted to become vegetarian then I/we would fully support their decision. At present the decision that has been made, is that only free-range chickens can be brought and eaten now...(at three times the price I may add!) This way they feel less guilty because they have had a good natural life. It's not quite the same when you have them in your garden - we could NEVER eat our chickens even if they were all that was left!

The discussion about pigs and cows has yet to come. Hopefully unless we get one I can hold off that conversation!

(It's o.k neighbours I'm not allowed livestock in the garden!!- unfortunately)

Friday, 24 August 2007


Yesterday we had three eggs... and one was soft shelled, laid by Sapphire our Black Star (Given the choice I think that's the option I would go for!) One was from Harriet as usual and the other we think was from Speckle. I Have looked up what soft shells are all about and at the moment am not at all worried. The boys were amazed at it and to be honest so was I!(although I played it down rather, don't want them to think or know I'm a complete novice in the chicken world too!) The panic of it being something awful or alien, which is what it looked like has now subsided and Harrison has calmed down.

After checking out the Internet I discovered that its actually quite normal for a first egg to be soft. I think that I'd like to break myself in gently too given the choice.

Today however Sapphire laid again... she was squat for about twenty minutes and then produced something just as amazing as yesterday...

It's been quite a talking point with the boys and the neighbours, but reading about miss -shapen eggs I am a little more concern but only time will tell.

Every thing in their diets is spot on so I think at the moment I will put this down to the fact she's a novice like me. Although Harriet started laying perfect eggs from day one including a double yoke'r yesterday. Typical of the Marshall's to get weird eggs!!! Perhaps its the influence of this neighbourhood!! HA!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

****NEWS FLASH****


Didn't catch the hen in action but it wasn't Harriet as she laid at 8.00am and always lets you know.
Today though after removing Harriett's egg I replaced it with the ceramic fake egg and at 10.30 when Harrison went out he found another one in the nesting corner.

But who is the mystery layer? No real clues other than a feather that could of come from three of the four. And as one of those is Harriet it narrows it down to two.. Amber or Speckle.

Despite looking for more clues we are none the wiser and don't suppose we will be until we catch her in the act.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007




As our chickens have quickly learnt that we are an interesting and valuable source of food supply they all appear as soon as we do at the gate jostling for position so as not to miss out on anything.

Today I tried to do some basic gardening - mainly repairing what the chickens had destroyed, which involve trying to spread the small pebbles back around the paving and the edge of the sheds and trying to contain some of the bark chippings back behind the small picket fence in the boarder. And removing what's left of the little delicate plants that where in the pots that they have either sat on or just pulled out for fun.

I also raked over the grass (ha ha grass!!!) to which I was mobbed and then on trying to pick up anything from 6 inches or below became attacked by Amber and Harriet who desperately wanted the buttons of the cuffs of my shirt. They have a thing about buttons - I don't know if these chickens are the full packet!!

Never the less we love em to bits... I did manage to get some good pictures of them today though, although the best one I missed. that was when sapphire decided to fly up to the window sill and have a staring competition with two Labradors and a Staffie. Who, I have to say don't take much notice of them anymore.

Our Kittens came outside for the first time today and just couldn't make them out at all. I'm not sure what the chickens made of them either but they didn't seem bothered when they cornered our neighbours cat under the patio table in a Mexican Stand-off!


Well the budding Gordon Ramsey of our house made himself the very first Harriet egg omelette with mushrooms cheese and ham.

We were all rather shocked at the colour as what you see here is just how it looked. But the taste was to die for!

Still we only have Harriet laying but the other three, Speckle, Amber and Sapphire have all adopted the crouch position when you approach and their combs are much larger and redder, so fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


At present Harriet is the only hen laying eggs, this is because she is the 1st hen we got and she is approximately 6 weeks older than the other 3.

The whole neighbourhood could probably tell you the 1st day she laid an egg - not because she made a noise but because our eldest son Harrison couldn't control his excitement. We actually had two eggs on the first day - I think there must of been a back log!

To be completely honest we were a little surprised at the size of Harriet's 1st egg, it was a lot smaller than the shop eggs we were used to. But didn't in any way disappoint in flavour. It was very hard trying to make it go 3 ways, so all the boys could sample the goods. The shell was so much stronger than shop eggs too.

Now the size of the eggs that Harriet lays are much more the size we expected. It still makes my eyes water never the less.

She is very proud to let us know when she has produced and calls for about 20 seconds to make sure we know and collect the goods.


"Sapphire" is a Black Star (Bovan Nera) She has a really pretty green, black iridescent colour to her feathers.

She is happy to eat corn from your hand with the others but favours a slug far more than the others. She also enjoys grapes and corn on the cob. She's a follower and not a leader. Although she did make the decision that the highest shelf in the chicken shed was better to roost on than the two purpose built ones I had provided. It didn't take long for the others to join in the desertion of my roosting posts..


as you may of guessed is a Speckled Star - A Rhode Island Red crossed with a Maran.

She has settled in very well next to Harriet. She is very quiet, but first up for the pasta pickings!She is however not very popular with me at the moment as she appears to be the ringleader in the "sit on and destroy all pretty flower brigade.." She also favours spreading all the bark chippings from my boarders onto the lawn. ( I say lawn in the loosest sense - as it appears to be more like a baron desert with a few sporadic tuffs of grass!) I suppose with 3 boys, 3 dogs and 4 chickens something has to give.

It's a small price to pay for the fun and enjoyment that we all get from the activities in the garden...

Monday, 13 August 2007


"Amber " is an Amber Star - not exactly an original name but this was left to the boys to decide.. She was very timid to begin and chased constantly by Harriet who would push, and peck her off the roosting perch.

However Amber was either thick skinned or stupid because she just kept coming back and has now been fully accepted into the crowd. She likes to flap her wings and run round the garden in little mad spells. She also is very nosey and is always the 1st to the gate to see what you have.

I think she may have some Magpie blood because she is forever trying to peck my diamond engagement ring!


"Harriet" is a Bovan Goldline - A Rhode Island Red cross Light Sussex.

Harriet is one of the 1st chickens we got - she is definitely the head of the pack! She is laying daily and loves a treat of grapes, spaghetti , pasta and rice.. she always has the 1st pick! She tends to lay between 8 - 9 am and lets you know as soon as she has! (Mind you if I had to lay an egg the size she does I'd make a noise too!)



I run my own business"WALKIES4ALL" which is mostly dog walking but I also do pet-sitting.

I have looked after lots and lots of different animals but these where to be the start of a new passion..

Chickens have the ability to make you see life in a completely different way. They are funny and very entertaining and more than happy to provide beautiful tasty eggs on a regular basis.
When I die I want to come back as a "Free Range Chicken!"

The two chickens that I was asked to look after were always so pleased to see me each day and clucked and chased me back and forth whilst I fed and watered them.

We had recently been bereaved of our pet rabbit and although as cute and fluffy that he was he didn't really entertain us like the chickens. Bunny was very reserved but I think that this was probably due to the continuous flow of children through our house and garden and our dogs that made him somewhat reserved.


I did lots of research and located a local chicken supplier (Cotswold Chickens) and began to draw up plans and supervise the conversion of our garden shed into a Des-res for chickens.

It didn't take much persuading of my wonderful husband to get him to begin the conversion with our eldest son Harrison. Who acquired lots of power tool experience!

We used a very large dog crate opened up to create an secure run of some 8 foot and attached it to the side of the shed with their newly cut access. This meant that whilst the dogs were in the garden familiarising themselves with the newcomers they would be very safe and secure.
We also divided the garden by putting up a new fence the length of the garden so the dogs and chickens could eventually (under close supervision) be out in the garden together but still with a divide.
However we had underestimated the determination of both dogs and chickens..
The next part is very distressing but a harsh lesson learnt very quickly after a lot of tears.

Despite the constant reminders to all three of our sons, one managed to fail to secure the gate properly and one of our dogs (who shall remain nameless) took advantage and pushed though. It managed to corner a chicken who although managed to make an impressive and scary attempt to stand her ground however, resulted in her sudden death - which I can only assume was due to shock.. the other chickens promptly ran into the run and then into the shed to find safety of the highest perch.

There was NO BLOOD or suffering- despite a descriptive report given anonymously to the RSPCA by one of our nosey neighbours.

It was a very, very sad and distressing episode and a huge hard lesson learnt by me and all the boys..
I have to say that now thankfully everyone seems to of settled in alongside each other well and the dogs aren't interested anymore - however I am not that daft....

To update all on the RSPCA visit that came about after the anonymous call. The inspector was more than impressed with the set up that we have for our chickens. And checked out the rest of the animals at our home and gave me a glowing report.

She was most annoyed at having had her precious time wasted and complemented the safety procedures that we have in place and said she would happily recommend my services as a pet-sitter and dog walker.

So one up for the Marshall's again.... Sorry anonymous nosey neighbour.