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The Hen Thread

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Messages: 401 - 450 of 907
  • Message 401

    , in reply to message 400.

    Posted by Looby-Lewis (U11820972) on Saturday, 24th April 2010


    I have been to have another look at the area and I think it would provide an area of about 3m x 2m, so should be adequate for a couple of hens, plu access to the shed.

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  • Message 402

    , in reply to message 401.

    Posted by K2tog2x (U14367617) on Monday, 21st June 2010

    I have the eglu and collect 4 ex-batts in under two weeks. Am so excited!

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  • Message 403

    , in reply to message 402.

    Posted by Skyebird (U14198692) on Monday, 21st June 2010

    Ooooh hello! I have just found this thread!! I love chickens!! My english game hen has just hatched 5 chicks. I am so pleased.

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  • Message 404

    , in reply to message 403.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    Tue, 22 Jun 2010 06:12 GMT, in reply to Skyebird in message 403

    Despite giving extra shell in the feed one of mine is *still* producing shell less eggs. She will have to go for the pot. So I now have to source a couple of new ones. Any tips on how to integrate them with existing matriarch? Not a big run and the small Eglu. SFAnne™

    Report message4

  • Message 405

    , in reply to message 403.

    Posted by the_shellgrottolady (U2395646) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    Ooh Skyebird how exciting!
    I don't know what an english game hen is - sounds like a rare old breed. Are the chicks lovely - is mum terribly aggressive and protective?
    I love chickens and all birds really. Two of mine are broody at the moment but I am removing the eggs because I don't want any more.
    Sorry can't help you San - if you were in france I would suggest the market.
    i envy your no nonsense attitude in a way

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  • Message 406

    , in reply to message 405.

    Posted by the_shellgrottolady (U2395646) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    I expect you are quite excited by this - I don't think battery hens are very old so I hope they lay you lots of eggs for years.
    One of my hens is about 5 but her eggs are usually the best and certsinly the biggest.
    Nice to see the hen thread on the front page again

    Report message6

  • Message 407

    , in reply to message 405.

    Posted by DeeKay Bee - Disenfranchised (U236881) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    I've just been looking at English Game hens and was reminded of an old relative who had a stuffed fighting cock in a glass case, I'm guessing that's what type it was.

    Report message7

  • Message 408

    , in reply to message 407.

    Posted by Skyebird (U14198692) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    Yes,DeeKay, that is just the thing. The cockerel is a fine chap. The hen is surprisingly obliging. I had to move her when the chicks hatched because she had nested in such a precarious place and she didn't seem to mind. Having said that , she gave the dog a fright when he put his nose in!!!

    The chicks are yellow with brown stripes. Quite delightful. smiley - smiley

    Report message8

  • Message 409

    , in reply to message 404.

    Posted by mamanchauffeuse (U5201740) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    Tue, 22 Jun 2010 20:04 GMT, in reply to San Fairy Anne U2230890 TM in message 404

    San Fairy Ann,

    . Any tips on how to integrate them with existing matriarch? 

    A chicken-keeping friend of mine was told to put the new hens in after the others have gone to bed. Not only is there a packing order but there is a 'ruling the roost' rule too apparently. If you wait until they are up on the perch then they will be in their order and the new one will fit in around them.

    Not something we've had to deal with so far, but she said it worked fine for hers.



    Report message9

  • Message 410

    , in reply to message 409.

    Posted by Skyebird (U14198692) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    Putting the new girls in at night is a good idea but expect some bullying. Hens are like girls in the playground. Just keep an eye on them. If they draw blood they can keep going back until they actually kill their victim. When it happened in my hen house I sprayed the wound with smelly antiseptic to put them off.

    Report message10

  • Message 411

    , in reply to message 410.

    Posted by StillBorisBecka (U14076840) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    chiken chatter again
    i'm not sure i can keep up
    i daren't visit the cat club because of all the infectious enthusiasm ..the equestrain thread takes up a lot of posting time and now chickens again

    watched my 10 month old rooster die in front of me on sunday..quite shocking it was .we'd hatched him last september and he was pure white. he'd live all year with his ten hens and had 4 offspring.... then suddenly on sunday we found him very pale and breathless and within 5 minutes he don't suppose he'd had heart failure through too much bonking do you?

    all others are well and hearty and one of the chikcs (born on easter sunday) looks like being a male , so he'll have to step up to the plate

    Report message11

  • Message 412

    , in reply to message 411.

    Posted by mamanchauffeuse (U5201740) on Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

    Tue, 22 Jun 2010 20:44 GMT, in reply to StillBorisBecka in message 411

    Dunno, but if he was human I wouldn't be surprised if an autopsy showed a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Was it very hot where you were?


    Report message12

  • Message 413

    , in reply to message 412.

    Posted by Annierose (U2992384) on Wednesday, 23rd June 2010

    Hilda, Evadne and Maud have joined the family. They are p-o-l Light Sussex x Rhode Island, and one of them is laying already. They are very talkative - much more so than my last ones. Is it because they are young? - my others were a couple of years old when I had them. Very tame and placid, nice to each other so far. Hens are such timewasters - I could watch them all day!

    Report message13

  • Message 414

    , in reply to message 413.

    Posted by Skyebird (U14198692) on Wednesday, 23rd June 2010

    They sound delightful, Annierose!

    My gamehen has managed to lose 2 chicks smiley - sadface Still that leaves 4. Hope there are a couple of girls in that group.

    Report message14

  • Message 415

    , in reply to message 414.

    Posted by Skyebird (U14198692) on Sunday, 27th June 2010

    It looks like my bantam hen has finally given up sitting. Poor thing has been sitting tight on a clutch for weeks and it was obvious that they were not going to hatch. Yesterday I took them away and put some others under her but this morning she was off the nest.Ah, well.

    Report message15

  • Message 416

    , in reply to message 415.

    Posted by mamanchauffeuse (U5201740) on Monday, 28th June 2010

    Mon, 28 Jun 2010 14:03 GMT, in reply to Skyebird in message 415


    Oh. Does that mean you were hoping they would hatch and had finally given up on the first lot too or did you know the first lot weren't fertilised but decided you'd give her some to sit on that might hatch since she was going to be there anyway? We've never had a cockerel or broody hens so it's all a bit of a mystery.


    Report message16

  • Message 417

    , in reply to message 416.

    Posted by the_shellgrottolady (U2395646) on Tuesday, 29th June 2010

    I am not sure if being broody and sitting on eggs is necessarily one and the same thing. I have a theory that hens slip into the broody rather tranced state that they seem to enjoy irrespective of the outcome.
    I have 2 broodies in the shed - they have been at it for well over a month now. One is on a plastic garden chair and the other in a box. Neither have eggs. I took them away at the beginning and when they are in this state they don't lay any more and the others aren't laying them there either.
    One of them - patches spent all last summer like this - a record 5 months...
    The only hens who are fanatical about brooding are the ones who were born here. I don't know if being hatched in the natural way creates some kind of imprint and compulsion to do it themselves...
    Anyway my theory is that hens do this because they like the state and feeling of it - i am not sure if it is because they are desperate to be mothers...
    There's not much written on chicken physcology - but i think i may be on to something...

    Report message17

  • Message 418

    , in reply to message 417.

    Posted by Pin o Chocolat (U2372386) on Wednesday, 30th June 2010

    Hi, chicken folks. Here's hoping all your flocks are doing well.

    My lovely four are ok-ish but I'm wondering whether there is a problem brewing because they eat so few of the layers pellets I put out for them. Between them they lay 2-3 eggs a day and I wonder whether this is low because of their diet.

    They are also looking a bit manky at the moment - losing feathers on their breasts and generally not looking in good condition, I think. They look faded. Perhaps this is them moulting as a natural course of events. They are all about a year old and have been laying since Christmas/ January time.

    Report message18

  • Message 419

    , in reply to message 418.

    Posted by StillBorisBecka (U14076840) on Saturday, 3rd July 2010

    she'll *never* hatch that in a month of sundays, shellgrottolady......SWW

    my broody was put into an empty rabbit hutch 2 weeks ago with 4 eggs ..we left it open so she could come and go as she pleased she has 14eggs under her, because her friends keep coming in and laying....and she shuffles them under her..we don't know which were the original 4 so we'll just leave her till the 3 weeks are up and see what happens....honestly !chickens!

    Report message19

  • Message 420

    , in reply to message 419.

    Posted by K2tog2x (U14367617) on Tuesday, 6th July 2010

    Had my 4 ex battery hens for 24 hours now. It has been amazing watching their transformation from statues to scratching, feeding and drinking. Most were reluctant to come out of the coop this morning and one stayed in most of the day! They have not eaten much food yet but think they all know how to use the feeders. Not much else done today by me except get wet in the rain watching them!

    Report message20

  • Message 421

    , in reply to message 410.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Wednesday, 7th July 2010

    Wed, 07 Jul 2010 17:04 GMT, in reply to Skyebird in message 410

    Well we kept the new ones in a separate(temporary) run near the older ones, then we divided the old run with chicken wire and they spent 36 hours looking at each other, so we removed the divider and the two *young* ones started bullying the existing ones. We could not bear to see them trying to escape there was nowhere to hide. The space is not very big and we cannot make it bigger,neither can we have 2 runs for much longer as we need the land for the next crop. Any more hints on how we can integrate them? SFAnne™

    Report message21

  • Message 422

    , in reply to message 421.

    Posted by Skyebird (U14198692) on Saturday, 10th July 2010

    Oh dear, sorry I've just seen this. I would have just suggested putting the chicken wire back for a few more days. I dare say you will have done that an hopefully things will have settled. Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to let them establish their pecking order.

    Report message22

  • Message 423

    , in reply to message 422.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Sunday, 11th July 2010

    Sun, 11 Jul 2010 05:55 GMT, in reply to Skyebird in message 422

    We have done that, divided the run that is, and made a temporary coop for the Currys. The Rhodies have gone off lay! Will wait until the end of the month before letting them mix at all. One learns. SFAnne™

    Report message23

  • Message 424

    , in reply to message 423.

    Posted by StillBorisBecka (U14076840) on Tuesday, 13th July 2010

    greetings chicken folk
    any body got experience with "only" chicks?
    priscilla only managed to hatch one out of four...
    the other two hens both hatched 2 out of 2 and both babes are now teenagers and still very much attached to each other......
    this chick will have no siblings to grow up with.
    ...ahhh....i will be interseted to see what with hens is never dull..

    Report message24

  • Message 425

    , in reply to message 424.

    Posted by the_shellgrottolady (U2395646) on Tuesday, 13th July 2010

    Ahh boris, poor little thing...I guess the chick will be ok just with mum. maybe when it's bigger you could get another teenager type one. I guess it will be ok while it's small and whatever it's emotional needs are it is better than growing up at bernard matthews or chicken equivelent..
    I have four broody hens at the moment .Two are doing shifts on the same eggs so it is quite tricky to get them. Don't want any more chickens!
    Agree ,though, they are always interesting...
    what will you call the chick?

    Report message25

  • Message 426

    , in reply to message 425.

    Posted by StillBorisBecka (U14076840) on Tuesday, 13th July 2010

    the 'Only Chick' is showing very little inclination to run around/explore/eat... maybe dad was actually ill....he did pop his clogs the day we put the eggs under maybe he's passed summat on to OC

    last year 2 of our speckledys had a great time going broody together ..they kept passing the eggs between them and eventually hatched all 12.then brought them up together...

    i'm sure a name will occur to me , if it lives long enough..

    Report message26

  • Message 427

    , in reply to message 426.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Sunday, 25th July 2010

    Sun, 25 Jul 2010 16:09 GMT, in reply to StillBorisBecka in message 426

    This may help other hen keepers. How we integrated the two pairs of hens.

    #! and#3 were separated from The Currys (Korma and Tikka) by a division made of canes slotted through the mesh on either side of the run. This was for about 2 weeks. Each pair had their own roost box and nest box. We fed them corn and greenery near the division. They were a bit stroppy through the barrier but over time they got much less so.

    Yesterday one of the Currys got into the other side. A tiny bit of an altercation but they were OK. When the other got through it was a bit more acrimonious so we separated them.

    This morning when they were being cleaned out they got together again. I had the water pistol and when ever Tikka, for it was she, attacked One or Three I shot her with a bit of water. I only had to do it over about 20 minutes and she gave up. Skinnerian conditioning works!
    They are now living fairly happily together. We only have to see if they roost together now. SFAnne™

    Report message27

  • Message 428

    , in reply to message 427.

    Posted by sue (U8059472) on Sunday, 25th July 2010

    I am hoping to become a chicken owner in the next couple of weeks. I have just moved to Anglesey, the plan is to have India runner ducks when we have dug a pond(due to slug eating habits), but we want to start producing food straight away so I think a hen set up should come together quickly.
    I will now read my way through this thread carefully now but any tips for a novice would be greatly appriciated

    Report message28

  • Message 429

    , in reply to message 428.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Thursday, 5th August 2010

    Thu, 05 Aug 2010 15:56 GMT, in reply to sue in message 428

    Well #1&#3 and the Currys have been together for 10 days or so. #1 is definately the bottom of the pecking order and is behaving a bit oddly. She has not laid for some while. She spends a lot of time sitting down but is eating a bit. She is about a year old or a bit less. Could she be moulting? There are some feathers about but as the others are still pecking each other a bit I cannot tell. She does not /look/ as if she is moulting ie she does not look tatty, but she doesn't look herself. SFAnne™

    Report message29

  • Message 430

    , in reply to message 429.

    Posted by Hazel Wooley (U2338026) on Thursday, 5th August 2010

    I've just acquired five new 'adoptees'. A friend of a friend was moving out of state, so her girls have come to live with us. They're doing quite well at becoming part of the flock. The bad news is that one of them has gone AWOL (they've only been here 2 weeks) so I think she's gone to the great chicken coop in the sky, via Mr Fox or Racoon or Wily Coyote.

    The woman who they belonged to was weeping copious tears when she dropped them off, so when she calls to see how they're all doing, I think discretion is going to be the better part of valour.

    Report message30

  • Message 431

    , in reply to message 428.

    Posted by Hazel Wooley (U2338026) on Thursday, 5th August 2010


    Sorry, didn't see your post last week. A friend of mine had runner ducks and chickens together and had to get rid of the ducks because they were so mean to the hens.

    When I started to keep hens, I got a wonderful book that was a child's guide to chickens. It was clear, concise and to the point. Probably means that I'm not grown up enough to read adult chicken books, but even so, I do recommend it.

    Report message31

  • Message 432

    , in reply to message 431.

    Posted by Jo Bo (U1485540) on Friday, 6th August 2010

    Just joining this thread, which I will read at my leisure over the weekend, having yesterday evening acquired two hens to go in my lovely new ark, one Rhodie type hybrid and one light Sussex hybrid. We used to have bantams some years ago, but they all went feral and I think they either moved into the woods or the fox had them, so it's quite exciting to have two new additions.

    Will post more, maybe with pics, when I have more time.

    Jo x

    Report message32

  • Message 433

    , in reply to message 431.

    Posted by DeeKay Bee - Disenfranchised (U236881) on Friday, 6th August 2010

    We're back to thinking about getting some hens, again (as in thinking again rather than getting hens again).

    Is it worth going on a course or is it pretty much common sense and otherwise can be gleaned from books etc?
    And how noisy are they? A neighbour has just bought a couple of bantams as they were advised that chickens were noisier, are some types quieter than others? I'm thinking 3 or 4 hybrids, possibly mixed types, but it is just a thought at the moment - am I being stupid (again).

    Report message33

  • Message 434

    , in reply to message 433.

    Posted by Hazel Wooley (U2338026) on Friday, 6th August 2010

    Everyone should keep hens, DKB. I really don't think you need to go on a course. They're pretty easy to look after and a good book (see my post #431) would be quite adequate. They're not particularly noisy unless you have a cockerel, and they will keep you amused for hours on end with their antics.

    So, mystery is now solved about where my missing hen went. I was chatting to a friend outside yesterday and a coyote mooched through my front garden, as bold as brass, at around 4 pm. It's very rare to see them before sunset so I'm worried for my other birds now and especially for my cat. I have distributed my dogs' poo around the edges of the front garden in the hope that the coyote will think that he's on another's turf, but I'm not optimistic. There are too many tasty things at my house.

    Report message34

  • Message 435

    , in reply to message 434.

    Posted by DeeKay Bee - Disenfranchised (U236881) on Friday, 6th August 2010

    Is there any truth to the rumour* that you've corralled all your creatures except for a sacrificial goat?

    I may email a chick place to see what they have available, I wonder how long it would take OH to knock up a house thing.....

    * that I'm just about to start

    Report message35

  • Message 436

    , in reply to message 435.

    Posted by Hazel Wooley (U2338026) on Friday, 6th August 2010

    Ooh DKB, don't put ideas into my head.........

    Nah, even I wouldn't do that to the lovely Phillip. He shares a field with my horse so I think he and the two sheep will be safe. Coyotes will think twice before they take on a 17hh horse. That said, my dogs were barking like mad last night and the horse was agitated, so the coyote may have been checking things out.

    I'll be making sure that the cat is in before sunset for the foreseeable future, that's for sure.

    Report message36

  • Message 437

    , in reply to message 429.

    Posted by mamanchauffeuse (U5201740) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    Fri, 06 Aug 2010 23:32 GMT, in reply to San Fairy Anne U2230890 TM in message 429


    #1 is definately the bottom of the pecking order and is behaving a bit oddly. She has not laid for some while. She spends a lot of time sitting down but is eating a bit. She is about a year old or a bit less. Could she be moulting? 

    She /might/ be moulting as it's that time of year but if she's deffo getting pecked and bullied that may be the reason.

    I've just finished reading 'Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance'

    and there was quite a bit about hen-pecking in and amongst all the anecdotal wimsy. Mind you, his remedy appeared to be to get a cockerel which may not be a good idea for everyone.

    We've been very lucky as our 4 girls arrived together and there's never been any bullying.


    Report message37

  • Message 438

    , in reply to message 437.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    Sat, 07 Aug 2010 07:02 GMT, in reply to mamanchauffeuse in message 437

    Oh! Thanks Maman. We are not allowed by our deeds to have a cockerel. She is loosing feathers like a good one now, so I think it must be that. We are allowing her to go out, away from the others for a good part of the day. The 'putting her in her place' only happens if there is competition for the green food we put in the run. At this time of year there is a lot of it as we harvest and weed! Thanks for the reply though. SFAnne™

    Report message38

  • Message 439

    , in reply to message 438.

    Posted by David K (U14115317) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    I know from reading this thread that for the most part, your chickens are kept as pets, with producing eggs often a secondary consideration.

    I hope you don't mind me asking this. What provision do make for dispatching your birds in the event of ill health, old age etc?
    The reason I ask is that I am often asked (as an ex-keeper of chickens) to do the job for people who could not bring themselves to do it.

    Finally, I think it is something that should be thought about before keeping chickens for the first time.

    Report message39

  • Message 440

    , in reply to message 439.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    Sat, 07 Aug 2010 11:52 GMT, in reply to David K in message 439

    Just recently I thought one of mine would have to be called Potty for a while and then move on. I /am/ prepared to do the deed but do not know how.

    I asked my brother who has a Stiffket in Poultry Husbandry and he would have, but didn't /really/ want to, so I let him and her off. Come Christmas then I shall just have to steel myself and do the deed. So yes, I did think of this problem. SFAnne™

    Report message40

  • Message 441

    , in reply to message 440.

    Posted by David K (U14115317) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    Thanks SFA.....just wondered!

    Yes, me too, used to keep them commercially (a hatchery) many years ago and am familiar with humane requirements.

    Something to think about for people going into it for the first time.

    Report message41

  • Message 442

    , in reply to message 439.

    Posted by sue (U8059472) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    David K Good point. I have every intention of putting non producing hens in the pot. Could you give advice on the best method of dispatch. From what I can gather the broken neck method is quick but creats a blood in the meat whereas cutting at the jugular is more difficult but produces cleaner meat. As I am eggs first and meat secondary the quality of the meat may not be so important as it will need long slow cooking will be required
    Thanks for the book reference Amazon order completed

    Report message42

  • Message 443

    , in reply to message 442.

    Posted by David K (U14115317) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    Sue - Would gladly give details, but I think it's a too sensitive subject to be discussed on an open forum and would probably be removed anyway.
    Suffice to say that I don't approve of the use of /any/ tools (except turkeys & geese, which is a different procedure) and should take no more than 2 seconds.

    Report message43

  • Message 444

    , in reply to message 441.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    Sat, 07 Aug 2010 13:30 GMT, in reply to David K in message 441

    Yes, me too, used to keep them commercially (a hatchery) 

    I was brought up in the Upper Calder Valley and had holiday jobs in hatcheries and related industries. But it is soooooooo long ago!

    I take it, one dislocates the Atlas from the Axis in the 2 second job? SFAnne™

    Report message44

  • Message 445

    , in reply to message 444.

    Posted by David K (U14115317) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    Something like that, SFAnne.

    You’ll know all about loading trays, candling and Japanese sexers then.

    Report message45

  • Message 446

    , in reply to message 445.

    Posted by San Fairy Anne (U14257911) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    Sat, 07 Aug 2010 14:32 GMT, in reply to David K in message 445

    Ohhh! Yess!! Loading trays was what I did, and packing the pullets in boxes of 25 which were then sent off to the station to be sent by train in their first 24 hours of life. Later I was involved in the lab which developed some of the first hybrids. 404s and 505s? SFAnne™

    Report message46

  • Message 447

    , in reply to message 446.

    Posted by David K (U14115317) on Saturday, 7th August 2010

    smiley - smiley ...and how did we test them for cracks?

    Report message47

  • Message 448

    , in reply to message 447.

    Posted by the_shellgrottolady (U2395646) on Sunday, 8th August 2010

    Morning all
    Interesting - I keep mine as egg laying pets so wouldn't really want to dispatch them but I have no problem with people who do this. - I just don't want to do it myself or eat them because I am just far too well aquainted with them. Good luck Sue.
    I would be very worried about not doing it right. Luckily I have a neighbour who would do it for me as a favour if i had a bird in pain or sick.
    She eats her birds and does it in the way you describe without an instrument. She mimed an action and i think that is what you and david are saying.I understand it is quick. It would be horrible to bungle it.

    But have you any advice on this please?
    I have one elderly hen who has lost all her feathers from underneath - totally bald like she's been plucked.
    she must be about 6 or 7 now. She lays eggs from time to time - shells often break though and her feathers round the vent are always messy.
    Is this an age thing do you think? Otherwise she looks healthy - eyes bright - lively spirit - good at catching she does have some use!
    I don't think she'd be very nice to eat! Tough old bird.

    Report message48

  • Message 449

    , in reply to message 448.

    Posted by David K (U14115317) on Sunday, 8th August 2010

    Morning - Shell. This is a real problem, as some poor unfortunate has to be the first.

    I would advise when you do this for the first time, do it under supervision and then only after you seen it done correctly as many times as possible.
    Unfortunately it's better all round if you feel confident.....fumbling will not be your friend!

    But hey! There is nothing wrong in delegating. I'm rubbish at (other than operating) computers and depend entirely on my son to help me out.

    Good luck!

    Report message49

  • Message 450

    , in reply to message 436.

    Posted by DeeKay Bee - Disenfranchised (U236881) on Monday, 9th August 2010

    One of the neighbour's bantam things has started producing eggs, unfortunately she hasn't got the knack of laying yet so last night saw my OH doing a bit of fowl fondling - once they got her to part with the egg she went straight to sleep as she was so exhausted (I'm not doing an awful pun).

    We're still thinking about it, chickens that is rather than fiddling with them.

    Report message50

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