OUR new arrivals have finally arrived.
After weeks of planning and preparation, research and saving we now have our own brood of hens, well four to be exact.
Braveheart, Mr Darcy, Henrietta and Henny Penny arrived, rather unceremoniously I thought, in a cardboard box in the back of the car boot. But when they were unveiled, what an impression they made.
My poultry expert had explained early on during our avine investigations that wings must be clipped to prevent our soon-to-be egg suppliers taking flight.
That was a task I couldn’t bring myself to do. Our hen supplier had explained how the job should be done, clipping four or five feathers on one wing, not too far down and the bird would feel nothing.
It was a necessary if unpleasant job and once completed, our new arrivals were invited to explore their new home.
The largest bird, Braveheart, was first to test their new turf, hence her name, and the other three quickly followed.
We have fenced a large area of the garden and constructed a fabulous chicken coop with all the mod cons a hen could wish for.
Now we’re awaiting the eggs.
Our supplier stressed at least a couple of weeks was needed for the hens to settle in and become “happy” before they started to produce.
So, they spent the first day exploring until one brave bird decided her wings hadn’t been clipped quite enough and wasn’t sure about life as an Ettienne hen.
She flapped onto the gate, much to the horror of the oldest Ettienne who has a definite fear of anything with wings.
She had to be shooed back into her ample enclosure. The wings had to be clipped further and the fencing made taller to prevent any further Great Escape.
Braveheart remains the most inquisitive and daring and even though I have always laughed at people who say their pets have distinctive personalities, it definitely seems to be the case.
Since then everything has been going well. The birds love their coop and enjoyed a Sunday morning lie-in nestled all together among the hay.
I enjoyed a lengthy conversation with Henrietta while painting the shed over the weekend.
Our brood are proving extremely therapeutic. When Mr Ettienne did his usual disappearing trick when the washing up needed doing, he was discovered in the enclosure hand feeding his latest lady admirers.
They have already become quite tame and at their bedtime the youngest Ettienne has no trouble whatsoever getting them into their coop for the night.
A bit of careful persuasion had them lining up nicely to walk up the gangway into their palatial bedroom.
Such is my enthusiasm for the latest additions to my brood (mother hen I have been called many times) that I have also started singing to help them feel even more comfortable.
We await the first eggs which will, I am sure, be greeted with something akin to the golden egg that the goose laid.
And the menfolk of the house are already licking their lips at the flavour which will be produced by our free range beauties.
For my part, and never an egg lover, I am happy to enjoy the psychological benefits which the chickens bring.
A colleague is most envious that our “cracking good idea” has become reality. Her husband is desperate for enough land to keep some “fowl” for himself.
Mr Ettienne has already other ideas on his agenda. A small goat has now been mentioned also.
Who would think it is me not him that hails from farming stock?