Listening to: Trampled Rose (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss)
Recovering from: shocking myself on the electric fence
At least: it works
Weather: mild and still - insects are out
The hens have been one of the big success stories of 2008 so far. They had a difficult start here, one dying on the two-mile drive from their previous home and another turning in its dinner pail a couple of weeks after being mugged by Spike.
At first they produced an occasional egg and then they stopped altogether. However, as if by magic, the turn of the year and the longer days have worked a massive change.
Eggs started to reappear. One or two a day at first, but now we are up to three or four - pretty damn good from four hens. At least we are spared the embarrassment of owning hens and having to buy eggs from the shop.
The hens have fattened up, their feathers look in good condition, they are making a lot of what I assume are happy clucking sounds. . . and they've developed an independent streak.
On a farm already including several animal 'characters' (barking mad dogs, hooligan pigs and a cat who calls his solicitor every time he's expected to catch a mouse) I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that the hens have decided, without consulting us or a celebrity chef, that they would go free range.
They discovered that just a little flapping would take them over the fence and since then they've been getting bolder and bolder.
They love the dung heap by the pig shed. The veg garden is interesting too. I found three of them trundling off down the drive this morning. "Oi," I shouted, followed by a lot of guilty clucking, looking at feet, attempts to nonchalantly check feathers before they were herded back around the back of the house.
At the moment it seems they are still laying their eggs in the same spot in the hen house, but I imagine that won't last now.
Is there such a thing as an egg detector?