Doris and Freda have come to stay. They are a couple of young ladies who have been raised in a barn with 80 other teenagers. They are Light Wessex crossed with something else,something brown, but I can’t remember what, but as long as they increase our egg production I don’t mind what they are. You must have realised by now that they are hens…surely you did!…..
They are very healthy looking, and arrived on Saturday morning on the windiest day we have had so far. Most of the Island ferries were cancelled but they sailed over from Gigha without too much bother. Of course having been travelling for a while they were a bit spooked when let into a pen and were able to walk about on grass which they hadn’t seen before.
The Rev. has a friend , ex-mountaineer,ex- teacher probable famous author in time, and now a smallholder ,who having lost all but one of his hens (13 I think) to mink and pine martins, was replacing his, so offered to collect a couple for us. After a cup of coffee to fortify him after the windy/rainy journey, he set off again telling me that as the hens had been inside since hatching I should probably shut them in.
What possessed me to try this is beyond me, I should have done it when they arrived. With my limited knowledge of hens learned over the last two years by trial and error, more error than trial, I should know that catching a spooked hen is bound to end in disaster. As I thought that D. had more experience than me I supposed that I had better try.
They saw me coming! Freda immediately flew out of the pen and headed for the densest, most overgrown part of the neglected potato patch, burying herself in and I couldn’t find her. Doris flew up onto the wall, between us and our neighbour , it also borders fields. She climbed to the highest point and threatened to jump. If she had she would have disappeared into miles of Achnabreck Forest where foxes and pine martins roam.
The Rev. shot next door and tried to coax her down, but Doris was not having any of it and settled down where she was. Also at this point our neighbours arrived home to find a clergyman balancing on their wall. Doris stayed there all day, then hit the potato patch at bedtime. Freda had more brains and followed Mrs Fergueson to bed at dusk, and after a bit of squawking and pecking, the resident three let her settle down. However Doris was still at large. The Rev. put on his wellies and stalked her down, and after diving headfirst into a patch of seeding Docks,bound together with Bindweed and Goose Grass (Sticky Willy if you are a Scot) he succeeded in capturing an extremely irate bird, who was un ceremoniously shoved into the hen house.
We heard nothing until 6 a.m when the usual ” we are awake” noises began. All was calm when I let them out, although Doris and Freda decided to have a lie- in. By the time we got back from church. all the hens were together under the usual tree. I think they may get on ,although the pecking order may still need to be established. I doubt we’ll get many eggs before next spring but here’s hoping.