Thursday, 14 August 2014

A Mouse in the House and New Hens in the Coop

The last couple of months have been crazily busy, every minute of each day has been planned in detail as we tried to fit everything in.    

One of our most recent jobs has been clearing my late aunt's house.  It was an uncomfortable process as we sifted through drawers and cupboards, it felt invasive, but necessary.     Ninety-two years worth of detritus and treasures waiting to be packed in boxes, given to charity shops, dispersed amongst the family, or placed in our loft for further investigation as time permits.  

It felt as though we were packing away a life.    However,  discovering that she was a very different person in her youth from the ptarmigant she had become,  helped to turn a horrible process into something of an adventure - happier images replaced some of the more awful ones.  

I'll be sharing some of these discoveries with you in a future post.

Now the pressure is off and we can begin to enjoy normal life, ordinary things.   It does all feel a tad lazy - but wonderful.   We can enjoy the gardens again, take time to smell the flowers and enjoy having our grandchildren around and simply sit and watch the hens scratching around.

I can even laugh about how naughty little Sparky managed to bring a live mouse into the house - we still haven't found it - just as I was in the midst of all the food preparations for the wedding reception...

Three of our four rescue hens have fallen off their perch.   Finally, about ten days ago, we were left with just the one, Frankie.   She really didn't like being a singleton and went into a decline.    She perked up as soon as she was allowed through into the gardens and was given lots of extra attention.   She even attended the reception, strolling around as though she owned the place, accepting cake crumbs and kindly words.

We decided that as soon as things had calmed down we would get some more hens - company for her, plus the eggs would be useful.    I always go for second-hand animals, so many need rescuing from bad situations not of their making, but this time we decided to go for 'brand new' hens.   Pretty hens, chosen for their beauty.   Shallow of me, I know, but I will rescue some more girls from the pie factory next time!

Yesterday George and I set out to choose the new girls, I hated the process, but I am delighted with the beauty of my choices.    

Our remaining ex-battery hen, Frankie,  is a little bit cross.    I think she feels demoted and jealous.      All will settle in a few days as the new pecking order is established.

These two beauties are the temporarily-named Leonie (I'll be asking Ming Ming to decide on her real name when she comes back from honeymoon)  and Frankie II - Francesca chose to name 'her' hen after herself, it could be confusing given that we still have Frankie I, as well as Francesca herself.

The speckledy hen is called Mab, Frankie II is in the middle and the one at the back is beautiful Dusty.

They are all young, so it will be a few weeks before they begin to lay eggs.

This is the smallest of the flock, she is a White Star, Harry loves her and has named her 'Shaggy' - he adores watching Scooby Doo, Shaggy is his hero.

Then we have gorgeous Lucy, George's favourite, she is quite a character already, having escaped twice into the woodland.    

Frankie one is FURIOUS.    She continually tells us that she is not an ordinary hen and should not be penned up like one.   She keeps escaping, refuses to stay in the temporary run, won't even stay in the woodland.     

We have created a monster, all the extra time and TLC we lavished on her has gone to her little chicken head.

Here she is under one of the old apple trees, strutting her stuff and being very noisy about it. 


  1. Lovely hens. We are down to our last one, and I'm not sure yet if I'll get any more.

    1. How is Richard coping with being on her own? I've just been down to see the girls, they really do gladden my heart with their beauty.

  2. Oh, your post had me laughing out loud! Hens are so funny... and yes, they have oodles of personality. We have a Rhode Island Red who thinks she's "The Boss Of Everyone" (including us). She's a real handful.

    ...and the MOUSE in the house whilst cooking for the wedding? Good grief!

    What a process you've been through re: your Aunt. My mother was physically and emotionally EXHAUSTED after cleaning out my Grandmother's place when she had to move into a care home (dementia). It all happened 13 hours away from me so I wasn't there to help her... We spoke daily and she told me how hard it was to discover the reality of her mother's illness (things in very weird places) but also, the joy in finding some very old special reminders of when life was much lighter and happier.


    1. Originally we were going to get Rhode Island Reds and set them to work on clearing some areas of the garden - but we got side-tracked by these girls. They are already developing their different personalities, I love watching them. Come the Spring, I may regret not having stuck to the original idea. How a hen can change in less than two weeks! Our shy retiring chuck turned into a tyrant, far too big for her boots, but she does make me laugh with her antics.

      Ten years ago the thought of having a live mouse deposited in the Boot Room, to then scamper off to who knows where, would have had me standing on a stool, clutching my skirts - last week I mounted a search and then decided that as I couldn't find it, I would have to live with it - and make sure that all food was protected.

      I can imagine that it was pretty tough for you, too, not being able to help your mother, but how wonderful that she was able to talk things through at the end of a day. I hope things have settled down now, for all of you. Dementia is difficult for all concerned. x

  3. I never had chickens of my own growing up. New York City has some odd laws limited (to nothing) the types of farm animals you can keep in a city apartment. But I've been fascinated by the stories I've been told by friends in the know. I had no idea they had such individual personalities. Yours are beauties. I suppose Frankie One and Frankie Two aren't bad names. We had a pet parakeet (budgie) when I was young. His name was Oscar Dinglehoffer. When he died, we got another and named him Oscar Dinglehoffer the Second.

    1. Hi Mitch, I must confess that I have had a life-long aversion (fear of) feathered creatures - I could never bear to get too close to them in case they flapped their wings at me - I blame it all on a canary which we had when I was a girl, it was a vicious little beggar. keeping hens has forced me to conquer my fears - though a wildly flapping hen still makes me cringe inside. So, Oscar Dinglehoffer. How on earth did he get a great name like that? x

    2. Hi Elaine,
      I think my father pulled that name out of thin air. He tended to do that. As for our feathered friends, Jerry and I bred and raised canaries and lovebirds. We also had a hand-reared Yellow-Naped Amazon parrot. Loved him but when he (or she) reached about 8, he (or she) became impossible to get near for about 6 weeks. I learned my lesson the hard way with three stitches in my lip (and nearly lost it first). We gave him to friends who had a menagerie and couldn't afford to buy him. And I would never have one as a pet again.

  4. Oh Frankie, her beak really has been pushed out of joint!
    A moose loose aboot the hoose? Our cats are laughing at Sparky..hehehehehehehe.
    Jane x

    1. Hi Jane, Somehow I thought your pud cats would enjoy that. Sparky refused to come in one night - skipped off into the darkness, laughing. At about 1am she performed a two-pawed banging session on the window, followed by a meowing session. I got up to let her into the Boot Room - suddenly there she was with a mouse in her jaws. She promptly dropped it, in order to eat her supper and the poor little critter legged it into the main house... These days she has to pass through a scanner before I let her in. I guess I should be grateful that it wasn't a rat.

  5. I think finding the old life is a blessing of the work of closing up. I've also noticed no one except we old farts are enthralled with the history, so I write it down and wait for its discovery by another generation. I am so looking forward to your aunt's real life, before ptarmigants surrounded her. (Sorry, I can only find little birds for that one, but am smiling that it may be the little, fluttery image you intended.)

    1. Hi Joanne, I think that is wonderful, so much gets lost otherwise. How do we know the right questions to ask until we know the story, though I guess when we are young we are too busy doing our own thing to care, anyway. When I write this blog I always hope that it will amuse the family in future years. You have caught me out on ptarmigan - I really should proof-read before I hit the publish button. Just drop the 't' off the end. I use it colloquially, to mean a grumpy and complaining old woman, for that is what she had become. The biscuit tins of treasure revealed a very different woman in her youth, I was thrilled and cheered to find the letters and photographs revealed a very different person.

  6. A sad process Elaine.
    At last its all done. I am so happy that you can now sit and enjoy your beautiful garden, and the antics of your most lovely hens.
    You have had a busy month.
    I love the names you have given the hens.. I am laughing to myself about the hen that is loosing her head.. ha
    such a nice post Elaine.
    Enjoy your weekend and relax there in your little paradise.
    love val xxx

  7. I love hens and those are really beautiful. I was going to ask you if the photo behind your title was true to life or a composition but seeing your last picture, I suppose this heavenly brook is for real. Greetings from your new follower in France !

    1. Hello - and welcome! How lovely to meet you. You are absolutely right, the header photograph is for real. It is a place I discovered when out walking my old dog, Toby, a few years ago. It is a place of tranquillity and beauty, so glad you like it.

  8. I have just two hens at the moment. One of them: Flossie has suddenly decided that she will follow me when i go up and let them out to roam, so each time I come down the steps I turn to look behind me and there she is, except by this time she has stopped as though she is playing 'Statues' and if i carry on walking, she carries on following me! Its lovely to get to know their characters.


Your comments are much appreciated and greatly enjoyed. x