So today is the big day when we buy the chickens. J has been the big driving force behind wanting chickens and its a decision which we have uhmed and ahed over for some time. I had grown up with dogs as pets and J had both a cat and a dog in his youth, but neither of us had anything remotely close to poultry. However, living in the countryside it seems as though everyone has chickens and we like eggs so it seemed like a logical decision. In fact J has been picking out breeds of chicken since we first moved in. He seems mainly focused on how they look whereas I’m after productive breeds, in this house it’s not really an option not to pull your weight. After having decided to put getting chickens on hold as we have quite enough to be getting on with at the moment, last week J came home and declared he wanted to buy the chickens now. And being the wonderful wife that I am I agreed. Actually I was quite looking forward to having chickens and six years of being with J has taught me that if I give in sometimes then I’ve got much more chance of standing my ground on his more ambitious ideas. So on Tuesday the chicken coop arrived and being a lovely sunny day C and I began building it. Now my biggest single bit of advice to anyone with a toddler is not to try and achieve anything when you’re with them. Inevitably they will either want to do the opposite just to be stubborn or, as was the case with C, they want to help. And by help I mean get in the way and make things twice as hard. First of all she insisted that Stickman kept doing a poo on the ladder up to the coop, a rather unusual thing to do but as we’re only a couple of months into potty training I figured it was a phase and just rolled with it. Secondly she kept declaring that it wasn’t the chickens house that it was her house. This led to eventually having to manhandle her into the house for bed and myself and J finishing the coop in the evening.

J has found a local poultry seller so today’s afternoon trip was there. He’d already spoken to her on the phone and so she was well prepared for the inevitable barrage of questions from us. I honestly can’t praise her enough, she spent ages with us talking through the bits of equipment we might need, showing us how to pick the chickens up and was very patient whilst J dithered over which exact chicken he wanted. We now are the proud owners of six chickens (two each). As guided by our poultry seller we brought them home and put them straight into their coop with the door closed. We then had to leave them for an hour before opening the door and letting them emerge in their own time.

The first to emerge was Dorothy, a Tri- coloured leghorn (one of J’s). And by about 6:30 they had all emerged, though some required more than a gentle shove to get out. The pecking order has started to reveal itself already, boy is it brutal! Although we had read about it, it was still fairly awkward to watch. It looks like the leader is the hastily renamed ‘the Boss’ who has been following round each hen as she emerges and pecking her periodically to remind her of her place. It’s hard not to intervene when you’re watching bullying happening right in front of you, but everything we read said we have to let them sort it out for themselves. The only time we have to step in is if they are wounded and we need to administer wound spray as the rest will go crazy at the sight of blood. As we speak they are now safely tucked up in bed for the night…fingers crossed for our first egg soon! The picture is the Boss at the front with Dorothy behind her.

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