Six Brown Hens
I have six brown hens, got them for the eggs and memories. I have five names: Coriander, Tweety-pie (TP), Ginger, Zoom and Jalfrezi. As I see their personalities coming to the fore in the next wee while they will be baptised in the old water-filled frying pan in the corner of the coop.
Their eggs and my memories of long hot summers at my Gran’s farm in Newton Mearns, summers scoffing strawberries; sitting high on hay bales behind the red Massy Ferguson; walking up the hill at ten o’clock to shut her hens in; selling eggs and potatoes round doors Friday nights with my uncle Andy; and Irn Bru and Oddfellows from Grampa when we went to the wee shop in his Land Rover for the paper on Saturday morning.
I got them to take my mind off things, get in flow and create new memories. A bargain I think, as all the action happens 40 metres from my back door and fritatta has been my thing for years, so now I shall have my own eggs. Not any time soon, so it will be ALDI for eggs for the next fortnight to six weeks. If it’s six weeks we might have one in for dinner.
Six brown hens would not have happened pre-Covid. They need a lot of looking after’ as was apparent on day one. For two nights the six would not walk up the ramp to their shavings-strewn luxury roosting-loft, instead huddling in the corner of the open deck at ground level. The six are dumb as dinner plates and for those two nights stayed put, not in danger from foxes as the run is enclosed, but there will be no eggs if I don’t have half a dozen hens happily cooped upstairs.
Getting them up there was the first challenge set by my new brood. Everywhere there was mud as construction was carried out in a typical Scottish summer storm. I was not keen on jumping into the run and man-handling six skittish hens, but that seemed inevitable. I contemplated the height of the run; six inches more than my inside leg. The Snip came to the rescue, suggesting soft lighting and food in the back corner of their bedroom (this has worked before). Left over Amazon cardboard blocked downstairs access (who doesn’t have that?) Now we had a plan.
It was special watching one, two then five walk up the ramp; then all come back out as the hokey-cokey played in my head and the midgies did what they do. Finally all six were in and I flipped the hatch shut, job done. One day nearer six eggs a day.
Already there is joy in seeing the six scratch and chirp and cluck, but best of all their impatience to get out for a run at 6am on a summer morning, I’m sure I can hear their impatience from quite a distance. The chair at the top of the garden is my new favourite place. If will be a riot when they get out into the big enclosure and meet the goat.*
*There is no goat. Yet.