Meet Thelma and Louise. They’re the latest additions to our rapidly growing (home garden) hen count, just over three weeks old and already full of chirpy energy. They, and their sisters (we hope they’re girls!) arrived as eggs from our local community garden, The Green Backyard in mid February, and spent the first three weeks here in the alien-looking incubator.
They’re hybrids of a very cute breed called the “silkie” – whose feathers are so fine and fluffy that when they were first introduced they were claimed to be hybrids of chickens and rabbits! Silkies are a great breed for home chicken keeping as they’re friendly, not too large and don’t destroy the garden too much. Our babies look pretty silly at the moment with their feathers half-grown but it won’t be long before they’re feathered up and out roaming in the garden.
My ‘old birds’ out on the allotment are doing well – they’re loving the warmer, longer days, not to mention a more varied diet now that weeds are growing and I have a new plot for them to roam on.
It’s so strange what they do and don’t eat! They adore goosegrass and sow thistles, but won’t touch groundsel or docks. Lucky for me, they appreciate a snack of slugs, so I’ve taken to putting pieces of wood down on the allotment: slugs collect overnight on the sheltered underside and I put the piece of wood face-up in the coop to be pecked clean the following morning. On sunny days when I know I’ll be down there for a while, I put the girls out to pasture on the abandoned plot behind mine that I recently took on – much to the surprise of my fellow ‘allotmenteers’.
Extra space, extra grass (not to mention lots of tasty bugs from the weed heap) and some exercise seems to have done the girls a power of good. Scratchy (see photo above) has turned from a flighty little thing into the friendliest, nosiest chicken ever. Seeing them all having a dust bath together in the early spring sunshine was incredibly heartwarming, considering that this time last year they’d never even seen sunlight.