From Running Late for a Fur and Feather Mart to 2 Kitchen Chickens in one easy step…………How ?

Last Friday evening I mentioned to my beloved husband that there was a Fur and Feather Sale in a town about an hours drive from here, that I would like to go to the following day. So a plan was hatched to rise early get the gaggle of children fed, dressed and with their teeth brushed so that we could leave the house at 9am at the absolute latest……yes the best laid plans and all that…

We actually left the house at 9.45am with two of the children taking their toast with them to eat in the car, daughter who is known as Bean had dressed herself without any input from an adult and as a result looked liked a shorter version of Margot from The Good Life complete with scarf in her hair all that was missing was the kaftan. Nobody had any recollection of helping Rhino – the youngest child brush his teeth so we are still unsure as to whether he left the house with clean teeth or not, personally I suspect the latter.

So we arrived at The Mart late, there were so many people there already it was quite impossible to get a good view of what was in the cages and the bidding had already started and was marching on at a terrific pace. So we did not start from a promising position, my husband then asked for our bidder number and before I could issue instructions as to what had managed to catch my eye in the brief minute we had been there he was gone at speed and very quickly unable to be seenĀ  by any of us. The minutes ticked by and I managed to keep The Gaggle amused looking into the cages and cooing adorably at all the cute, fluffy, furry things and suddenly Husband was back looking slightly bemused and winded.

“How did you get on?” I enquired,

“Well, I bought a couple of things” he replied and then started to look shifty and started mumbling.

“Shall we all go and get a cup of tea?” he asked. Now I am not certain but I am sure that some of the wise old sage like Farmers who were stationed close by started to giggle and they too began to mumble something unintelligible to each other.

“How about you tell me what you bought?” I asked a little more forcefully now and through gritted teeth aware that we were acquiring an audience with every second passing

“I would rather not” came the reply. Well to cut a long story short, I finally managed to prise out of my husband that he had bought 4 Marans, age unknown but I suspect about 16 weeks old and 2 slightly stunned looking 7 week old Chicks….yes that’s right he bought chicks that had probably still been on heat lamps just days before. Well they were scruffy, needing to put some fat on and lacking in feathers which is how they came to be our resident Chicks in the Kitchen for 4 days whilst we waited for the coldest weekend in recent memory to pass.

Obviously the Gaggle of Children were thrilled to have them in the kitchen on a semi-permanent basis rather than for the usual few minutes stuffed up their jumpers which is normally what happens if I turn my back. I on the other hand as Chief Chicken Vet was less than thrilled with the arrangements. I desperately wanted to liberate them from the confines of the kitchen as the smell which greeted me each morning was horrific, chicken poo is one of the smelliest substances known to man. So after much discussion with The Gaggle I managed to palm them off onto one of our older hybrids Daisy on Day 4. She took to her instant family without problem but as a result of this enforced motherhood has now gone broody….I suppose I would be wise to laugh at the bizarre moments in my life and will not be letting my bidding card out of my sight if we are within 100 metres of a Mart thats for sure.

In my Husbands defence he claims that he bought the Chicks as a humanitarian act. Whilst he was looking at the birds in the cages a teenager kept poking the two little chicks and he felt sorry for them…… more bidding for him I think or our 22 girls, yes you did read that correctly our 22 girls will complain!

Meet Rose, she is about 8 weeks old here and the size of a bag of sugar, including feathers.

Silver Mist the little white Mille Fleur Bantam and Delilah a Black Rock. With the dog in the background plotting revenge on a squirrel……







Well you can stop fretting for yes, the mystery of the missing eggs is finally solved……hurrah!

Here at the Barbour residence we could be described as having a somewhat fundamentalist approach to our chickens. Some 18 months ago whilst I was driving my oldest child home from a party on a Saturday evening, conscious that my wild and boozy child free days were very much a dim and distant memory I popped into a friends’ house to buy some of her eggs and have a cheeky glass of dry white and so the madness began. Chicken keeping is in my opinion more addictive than crack cocaine. We started with four chickens, Celia, Meadow, Daisy and Megan; 3 hybrids and a Dutch Bantam. Today we have 16 and counting, there is a Fur and Feather Mart next weekend so the numbers will inevitably rise. To date our ever-expanding flock has decimated an entire, well established vegetable patch, cost me more than I will admit in coops, layer pellets and poultry tonic and means that I am to be found of an evening poo-picking, far less glamorous than it sounds and involving me in rubber gloves removing chicken poo from the garden. The girls now have two very comfortable coops which on days when the children are driving me insane I seriously consider sitting in just to get a few moments without somebody needing a backside wiped, plaster applied or an argument settled.

So when I looked at the laying chart stuck up on the kitchen wall last Monday and noticed that numbers were down I began to worry. A laying chart perhaps suggests I have some sort of control freak tendencies to my personality and run a very tight ship here, alas nothing could be further from the truth. We lurch from one lost riding boot to the next missing gum shield and I frequently dream of the day when order descends upon us. Instead the idea came from one of the ancient farmers I always seem to get talking to at the local Fur and Feather Mart which we go to with alarming regularity. My husband finds it all very amusing however these old farmers clearly feel my muddy wellies, battered Barbour and my gaggle of ruddy cheeked children give me the air of somebody who knows what she was talking about. If only they knew, it is for the most part seat of your pants stuff which happily seems to be working since we have only had one fatality in the last 18 months which was due to old age.

Anyway I digress, the egg numbers were down; the girls were eating all the kitchen scraps and layer pellets as usual, the sun was shining and they were all in rude health. So yesterday morning eldest son and myself were sat in the garden enjoying the sun and chatting about all things chickens when one of his chickens – Megan, excitedly announced that an egg had been laid. After a thorough examination of the coop revealed nothing we tailed Megan down to the bottom of the garden, through all the tress and then there was an excited yelp from oldest son. Pass me a bucket Mummy came the slightly alarming request accompanied by lots of mutterings. Son emerged with much shrubbery in his hair and 15 eggs in their many differing colours in a bucket!

So I seems that Megan may have ‘gone broody’ and given that there were different coloured eggs in the nest in the trees may well have encouraged two or three of her feathered chums to do the same……I shall be having words with them all and will, of course keep you posted as to progress.