When we talked about moving to the Marches, we made a list of what would be desirable in our new place, setting aside the separate and extensive list of the qualities we looked for in a house. Enough garden to grow vegetables and/or fruit? A bit of a view? Space for a few chickens? Somewhere for wood turning and storage of kit?
Let’s think about the chicken clause. Enough space for them? One property we viewed claimed, in the Estate Agents particulars, to have a Chicken Coup. Really? We want our chickens to be unarmed and peaceful. Yes. In this garden they could roam round freely , but then, what sort of shelter would they need?
Committing to the idea of poultry lead to thoughts of housing them. We considered sheds, a poultry house, an ark and the most beautiful chicken palace on staddle stones that I will covet for the rest of my life-here-but we chose an Ark with handles that will allow us to move it around easily.
Having chosen a house, we put our thoughts to what it should contain. Pure breeds are lovely and in the future we may have some, if we can ever make our minds up which pure breds to choose. Every time I look in another book I find a new favourite, so in the end we decided to learn to be good chicken keepers on a group of three hybrid Speckledy hens, a cross between Rhode Island Red and Maran.
Yesterday we drove to Craven Arms to collect out 16 week old point of lay pullets from Cyril Bason, poultry suppliers. And here they are, left to right, Maeve, Maud and Mabel. I expect you will be meeting them again.