Our ex-battery hens… Their first winter!

Ok, I’ve been dying to put some snow hen photos on. The last post I told you about Terri and her foot infection. She made a full recovery just in time for the really cold stuff.
I was a little worried I wouldn’t get her back out in time for the cold weather, but thankfully we managed it.
Sadly though, this was Terri’s first and last winter, as we lost her on New Years day. I wrote about it later on in the blog, happy stuff first!!

Here are all 4 of the girls after I’d just let them out. We had a bit of snow overnight, but this was just the beginning.
You can see them all sticking together, checking it out. 
Their feathers really started to come through as the weather got colder. 
I did clear the paths off for them, and they tended to stay on the clear bits rather than walking in the snow. I don’t blame them!

Here is Mel (again!) You can see how well she looks now! She is still missing some feathers, mostly from her undercarriage, but she almost looks like a ‘normal’ hen. 
She’s stood next to the bush sheltering from the snow, she doesn’t really like getting wet! 
You can see her face and comb are now totally red as they should be.

 Here is Mel again, being brave, as she is, and walking through the snow. 
It’s still only a dusting at the moment, but this is the first time they’ve seen snow. 
Makes me very proud to watch them taking it all in their stride. 
They had been out for a little while at this point, so they’ve split up as normal to go about their daily business!

The snow starts to come down a little faster now and the girls retreat to the safety of the pen. 
I left the gates open so they could walk about if they wanted to, but they stayed pretty close to the run and houses. 
You can see all four of them here together again. I guess as the weather changed they became unsure again and re-grouped!

 Here is Chicken 11, who I think was the least impressed with the snow…. 
This is the perch my husband made for them, just to give them something to sit on and to add some variety to their pen. 
Chicken 11 is more than happy to perch here out of the snow. 
She still has the least feathers at this point, but didn’t show any signs of being cold. They kept very active throughout the cold weather. 

Here is Chicken 11 the next morning, we had a fair bit of snow overnight (this is pretty deep snow for us here). 
Chicken 11 shows of some high stepping action as she walks down the garden. Pretty brave for her to go off on her own, I thought. 
The temperature got down to -10 here, but the girls were fine. They snuggle up and if you open the door at night, the heat coming from them is amazing!

Here is Chicken 11 coming back again, obviously not impressed…. 
I did clear the paths off for them again, which did cheer up up a little. 
She was a tough bird to please!
I loved the snow as all of their feet were sparkling clean all of the time! 
You can see how red little 11’s face and comb are now. Her comb never made it into an upright position, but it’s a lot higher than when she first came to us.

Here are the girls walking back into the run…. there’s not much to do out in the snow, so they come back inside for some breakfast.
During the cold weather, I was feeding them warm mash. 
This is simply made by buying layers mash (works with pellets but needs more mixing!) and adding hot water to make a sort of ‘Ready Brek’ for them. They really have no trouble keeping warm in the winter, but they did seem to enjoy the extra effort that I put into preparing their meals! 

I love this photo of Crispy! She has blossomed and is has all of her feathers. Look how lovely and dark she is! 
She is confident, happy and very sociable now and lays really lovely, smooth dark brown eggs. 
I can tell who’s eggs are who now, as they are all slightly different. 
Crispy wasn’t too fussed about the snow and just got on with it. 

Here is Chicken 11 (left), Terri (right) and Crispy (front) having a meeting in the middle of the garden.
The snow was a couple of inches deep by now and you can almost see them thinking, “where’s the grass?” 

But the happiness was short lived, as you’ll read below.
Sorry if anyone finds this upsetting.

The above picture is Terri. I thought she should get a large picture as this was the last photo we took of her before she had to be put to sleep. 

It was New Years day, I’d put them to bed the night before as normal, everything was fine. When I let them out in the morning, I noticed Terri wasn’t herself, she was quiet, hunched and staggering…. I watched her for a while to see if she changed but she got worse.
I could hear her making a gurgling sound as she breathed and I knew that it was serious. I sat down with her on my knee and could feel her crop was huge and filled with fluid. I knew what it was straight away, sour crop (I’ll write about it after the story!).
I tried to empty some of the fluid out by holding her upside down and massaging the liquid out of her mouth. I stopped every few moments to allow her to breathe, as just like us, they can’t breathe and vomit at the same time!
The smell was awful, it just smelt like bile and it was green. Something hadn’t cleared out of her crop overnight as it should, and had now fermented. The smell was fermented food….

I called the vet as the gurgling sound was very worrying, I feared that she had inhaled some of the liquid. We got to the vets (£80 just to see us, being New Years day!) and my fears were confirmed.
We agreed the best thing would be to put her to sleep, sour crop is quite easily fixed if caught early, but she’d inhaled the liquid and was suffering.

I was absolutely devastated….. she was the first hen we’d lost and after coming so far, gutted. I think I cried all day….. still makes me cry now just thinking about it.

We bought her body home and buried her in the flower bed where she loved to dig and dust bathe. Lucas dug a really deep hole for her, as we didn’t really want the other girls digging her up again.

So now we just had 3 hens. It was really weird only seeing 3 birds out in the garden, Terri had really come out of herself since being in the house whilst she recovered from her foot infection. Her feathers had really come through and she was a picture of health.

Sour Crop – As mentioned above, sour crop is the result of the hens crop (food pouch in her chest area, kind of a halfway house between mouth and stomach) not emptying as it should overnight. The food then ferments, resulting in a fungal infection.

It can be identified by a large crop, which feels a bit like a water balloon. When the birds beak is opened, you’ll be able to smell a putrid stench (a bit like vomit).

If you feel able, then hold the hen upside down (not by her feet) and massage the crop to encourage the liquid to come out of the mouth.

You need to make sure you give the hen a chance to breathe or you’ll suffocate her. If you don’t feel confident enough to do this, then seek help, either from a vet or an experienced friend.

This may need to be repeated a few times before the crop stops refilling.

Feeding natural yoghurt can help to return the crop back to normal as can adding apple cider vinegar to the hens drinking water.

I have also read that feeding natural yoghurt with crushed garlic cloves is also good, as the garlic is a natural anti-fugal and all round super herb!

If the bird doesn’t improve after a couple of days or gets worse, then take her to the vet as she may need something a bit stronger!

Hens can make a full recovery from this ailment. But there are some things you can do to try and prevent it.

❦ Keeping grit available at all times – chickens can’t chew… they use grit in their gizzard to grind up their food up. If they can’t grind it up it won’t go through.

❦ Avoid keeping hens on long grass – this is harder to break down as long grass is tougher and more fibrous than the short grass.

❦ Using ACV (apple cider vinegar) – this is a health tonic for hens, it helps improve condition, aids digestion. Add this to their water once a month, but more or less won’t hurt!

❦ I also feed garlic granules to my hens. I believe garlic is super, good for the blood, keeps bugs and worms at bay and generally boosts health.

I hope that you have found this useful and I hope no-one has to go through what we went through with Terri.
She has left a hole that will never be filled.

Thanks for reading.

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Our ex-battery hens… 2-3 months into their new life

Hello again,

So, here are some more photos and about how they progressed 2-3 months after we bought them home.
We still only have the 4 hens at this point, Mel, Crispy, Chicken 11 and Terri.

Here is the lovely Chicken 11. She is so sweet but still very scared of everything!
She now, however, has the confidence to let me take a closer photo of her. 
You can see her comb has shrunk and is a lot redder now. When she first came it was almost white and covered her right eye! Poor little thing. 
She still has a long way to go on the feather growth, but she’s looking a lot healthier! 

Here is Terri. She still only has her downy under feathers on her chest, and is still missing the top feathers on her wings. 
She’s very friendly and seems pretty confident around us now.
All of them will take food from your hand now and are all quite happy to be handled. 
You can see Terri’s comb and face are pretty red and a nice size now. 
She’s put on weight and is gaining condition nicely. 

 Here is Chicken 11 again with Crispy stood next to her. 
Chicken 11 took a lot longer than the others before she’d come into our house. As you can see here though, she’s made herself at home by the back door. 
I put a towel down for them to sit on as they’re not house trained! I’m still working on that…… 

 Here is Mel. Super confident and very much at home. 
I think she really wished she was a cat at this point. Everytime the door was open, she’d walk in. She would quite happily waltz into the lounge and plonk herself down on the carpet. Cheeky thing!
I had to stop them coming into the lounge however, chicken poop is quite hard to clean off of carpet!
You can see that this lady has no fear. It’s really something when an animal totally accepts you like this. I love this birdie!

Here are the girls enjoying one of their new found favorite foods, natural yoghurt!
It’s actually quite good for them to have some now and again, as it helps to maintain the health of their crop (food pouch). 
Chicken 11 is at the front, then Crispy and that’s Mel’s bottom in the back! 
It had been raining, the girls have already expressed their displeasure at heavy rain…. 
It was really lovely to watch these girls turn back into hens again, as before they came here, they were mere machines. 

At the end of the 3rd month, October, Terri developed a bumblefoot. This is an infection on the underside of the foot.
Starts off with a bit of lameness, accompanied with some heat and a little swelling, maybe some redness… if there is a serious infection, you may have a mini abscess on the foot which will burst. If this happens, there will be an open sore, most likely producing pus.

We noticed that Terri was a bit ‘off’ and had a slight limp on morning. (this is why it is important to watch your hens when you let them out in the morning) I checked her foot and couldn’t really see much, so I watched her for a day and waited till the next morning to see how she was.
The next morning, she was no better and the swelling was more apparent. I also noticed a tiny scratch on the sole of her foot. Immediately I bathed it with some cooled, boiled water with salt in.
I decided that as there was an open wound (albeit small) to bring her into the house, as she was really quite lame on it by now.
We set up a travel cot in the lounge and put a cat box in there for a place to hide. I lined the floor of the cot with newspaper and put a water and food dish out for her.
She seemed pretty happy with her new ‘house’.
I bathed the foot at least 3 times a day and used antbacterial hand cleaner to keep the foot clean. I did try bandaging the foot, but that is easier said than done on a chicken…..
She stayed in the house for 4 days, till all traces of heat and swelling had gone.

Here is Mel visiting Terri in her ‘sick bed’. We thought Terri might get lonely, so we let Mel come and visit her. 
Also we were worried that the others might forget her and we’d then have trouble integrating her back into the ‘flock’.
The blue is a plastic sheet that we put down instead of the newspaper…. hens poo a lot!
Anyone thinking of doing this with their hen, should be aware that they aren’t the most fragrant of animals…. our house stunk, despite cleaning her out lots and lots everyday!

Terri happily made a full recovery from this…. no abscess ever developed and I think we caught it really early…
I checked all the perches and sanded them down, as this injury is commonly caused by splinters on perches…. I think though, she may have stood on a stick or something, because all the perches were fine.

If your hen gets a ‘bumblefoot’ be careful. I have experience dealing with animal injuries at work with horses and I’ve always had pets. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, then take your hen to the vet. She may need antibiotics.

In this case however, it was just a case of reducing heat and swelling and keeping the small wound clean.

When we let Terri out again, bearing in mind she’d been in for 4 days, the others did give her a little bit of a hard time…. but hens need to assert themselves into ‘their places’ and you have to let them get on with it.
I’ll talk about hen integration in another post, as Ginger (one of our newer hens) was a nightmare and will be a better example of that!

Now then, is our girls first autumn! They’re all doing really well and eating lots!!
In the next post I’ll talk about how their first winter went. I’ve got lots of hens in the snow pictures!

Thanks for reading.

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Our ex-battery hens… a month into their new life


I found some lovely photos of our girls a month into their ‘retirement’. We brought the girls home mid-July 2010, just to give you some idea of when these photos were taken.

Here is Mel in the pumpkin patch (which used to be a veg patch, but we had no idea how big pumpkins grow!!)
The hens loved it in here, shelter from the sun and rain and plenty of bugs to munch!
They pecked at a few of the baby pumpkins, but generally the worst thing they did was to dig up the anti-weed sheets over the soil. 

 Here is Mel (sitting on the door mat) and Crispy. Mel settled into her new life very quickly and made herself at home. 
The others, like Crispy, are happy just to keep their distance a little bit. 
We were very happy just to let them be and watch them find their feet. No point trying to rush them, they are still a little thin and have a long way to go before they are up to full strength. 

Here is Crispy (stood up) and Chicken 11. 
Chicken 11 was the weakest and most timid of the hens and she did get picked on a little to start with. Once the hierarchy was established however, Chicken 11 and Crispy became very close. They would be together all the time, eat together and graze the lawn together. 
It was lovely to watch this friendship develop. When we lost chicken 11 this year, Crispy did actually look a bit lost, but has since become closer to Mel. 

Here is Terri. She was another very friendly hen in the end, but it did take her quite a while to come out of her shell. 
You can see the water drinker and feed bowl in the background. The water is pink due to a vitamin supplement to help the girls recover more quickly. The silver bowl was used as the girls refused to eat pellets, and refused to eat out of a feeder…. so they had wet mash in the silver bowl for about 6 months, till we managed to coax them over to dry feed from a feeder, not pellets, but at least it’s dry!

Crispy and Chicken 11 again. Anyone who thinks these creatures have no soul, brain or ability to form a lasting friendship is sadly mistaken…. these two were inseparable. Crispy was happy to be with the others and I think she gave Chicken 11 a lot of confidence, Mel still tried to pick on 11 but Crispy quietly stood up for her, no fighting, she just kind of put herself between them. 
It just shows how clever these girls are. 

The girls settled well and as we had gotten the four ladies together, we didn’t really have any trouble with fighting. As I mentioned, Chicken 11 had a bit of a hard time, mostly from Mel, but once her and Crispy got together, that all changed.

They were all perching quite happily at night by now, although Mel still preferred to sleep in the nest box (I would too!) and she still does!

We were very lucky, as none of the girls got injured or ill in the first couple of months.

This is a fun game. I got the idea from another YouTube video. 
I was looking for ways to get the girls active and give them new things to do. 
As we’d had them a month already, they were fairly strong. 
Sorry about the picture quality, but it was a year ago!! LOL!

Here is a video of Mel sleeping in our house! She walked in, sat down and fell asleep. 
She was also making some lovely cooing noises, but I wasn’t able to catch them on here. 
It just shows how content and settled she was, even at this early stage!

and finally, here is Crispy having one of her ‘moments!’. 
 Generally the hens are very quiet, but now and again they like to make themselves heard!! 

Thank you again for reading. I’ll write again soon about them as they came up to their first winter. We had one injured hen and a heck of a lot of snow!


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But what about battery hens?

Now, I’m not going to go all preachy or anything, so don’t worry, but I would like to provide you with some information so you can make up your own mind.
I just wanted to put some of the information I found before getting my hens together, so you can see what these ladies have gone through and just how far they’ve come.

Lets have a look at one of my hens…. Mel, as she is and always has been the easiest to get really close to.

Here is Mel a couple of weeks after she came to live with us. 
You can see how much redder her face and comb are, although they still have a long way to go. 
Mel and her friends, are ‘hybrid’ hens. A commercially produced bird of mixed breeds to optimize egg production. 
Once she is fully healthy, her feathers should be smooth and shiny, her face should be red and her comb will be smaller. 
Again, this shows the adaptable nature of the chicken. 

The hens comb regulates body temperature. Ex-battery hens will never have been outside and will have been shut in a hot, cramped environment under artificial lighting. I’m no expert, but I assume because of being kept in this way, the comb has enlarged to compensate for the constant hot temperature.

This is a photo from the Torquay Girls Grammer School citzienship blog. This is a UK battery farm. This is what my hens have come from. I should imagine there are worse ones than this, but this is, in my opinion, nothing short of hen hell. No sunlight, no grass, no soil, no space, just row upon row of hens…..
I can’t imagine how hot, smelly, noisy and just plain awful it must be in here. 

As well as Mels’ comb size and the colour of her face, you will also notice her lack of feathering, she has quite a good covering on her neck, but her wings are quite bare and her bottom is bald!

Here is Mel again, this time having a sunbathe by the pumpkin patch. 
You can clearly see how sparse her feathers are…. she has puffed her neck feathers out here (to catch some extra rays!) but all in all, she looks pretty pathetic…. but saying that, she has a darn sight more feathers than some hens who come out of a battery farm. 

A battery hen will have spent her whole life stood in a cage, with at least 4 other hens… now, hens aren’t stupid, they get frustrated and irritated like any of us, so with a lack of space, overcrowding, heat, discomfort from being stood on wire mesh the whole time and nothing to see or keep her occupied, fights are going to happen.
When mine eat, the boss hen goes first, if that’s not respected by the others, they get a smart tap on the head…. I would imagine in the battery farm the pecks carry on as they just can;t move out of each others way. They pull each others feathers out, case injury and some I imagine will even be killed.
If a hen manages to draw blood from another, they will just keep attacking, brutal.
As well as losing feathers from pecking or pulling, the hen will of course loose some from constantly rubbing against the sides, top and bottom of the cage. 

This picture is from a ‘Happy Egg’ farm in NZ and was rescued by the Action Animal Rescue Team.
You can see the difference! Poor little lady. 

Preventing boredom is therefore very important. Space is the best boredom prevention! Not having enough space also helps disease and parasites to spread very quickly.  
The sort of things that a battery hen may suffer from include…..

❂ Mareks disease- a virus which causes internal lesions, a bit like a cancer. It is spread through the respiratory tract, so as you can imagine, would spread very quickly in a battery farm.

❂ Impacted eggs or egg bound-  this is where a fully formed egg become lodged inside the hen. This is extremely serious and can be fatal. In a battery farm, I would imagine an egg bound hen would most likely not even be noticed….

❂ Broken and/or brittle bones also known as ‘cage layer fatigue’- Due to the battery hen having been bred specifically for the purposes of laying loads of eggs, this can lead to suffering from osteoporosis (brittle bones) as all of the hens calcium reserves will have been used for laying eggs. I would imagine also, that never have been exposed to sunlight would also cause them to have a vitamin D deficiency, which is also essential for healthy, strong bones. As the bones become brittle, they break, due to getting a foot stuck, poor handling, fighting…. the list goes on….

❂ Prolapse- This is a distressing condition. We sadly lost Chicken 11 due to prolapse. This is where the hens uterus ‘falls out’ of the vagina… sometimes, if caught early enough, or it’s not too bad the hen can be saved, or surgery can also be an option. In a battery farm it would most likely go un-noticed, also as I mentioned above, when a hen sees blood, they attack…. I don’t think I need to say anymore, it’s just gruesome.

❂ Fatty liver syndrome-  The hens get no exercise, they eat, they lay…. that’s it. So the liver cannot cope and fails.

❂ Stress- Perhaps the most obvious one of all, the hen my have known no different, but it still must be horribly stressful for her. Having no privacy to lay, being crammed in a cage, fighting for food, being pecked, being kept in a hot, stuffy environment, laying more eggs than her body is naturally supposed too…. Sadly, when hens are finally found a new home, they can die within a few days due to it just all being too much.

❂ Overgrown beak and claws- Having been sat in a cage and not moving, the claws and beak are not worn down naturally, so they maybe overgrown.
It used to be common practise to ‘de-beak- a battery hen. This involves slicing the tip of the top half of the beak off with a red hot blade when the hen is young, it’s mean to stop the hens injuring each other when they peck.

These are just some of the more common health problems that I was able to find out about. Now I shall tell you about the life cycle of a battery hen. This is researched from various places on the web that I found whilst I was finding out about battery hens myself.
Video taken inside a battery hen farm by some Australian activists. This is a simple video, no preachy commentary, you just watch. It’s not nice but then nothing about battery farming is nice.

The life of a battery hen begins when she is hatched, day one. The chicks are passed along a conveyor belt and sexed… the hens are kept and the males are ‘dispatched’. This can either be by gassing, dropping into a mincer or just shoved in a bin liner with the rest to suffocate. Nice.

Before a hen is old enough to lay eggs, she is either reared in a shed or in a special cage. Then at 18 weeks old, they maybe de-beaked and then put into the battery cage.

This is a cage which was retrieved by the United Poultry Concerns from an abandoned battery farm. They have put some model hens in the cage to clearly show just how little space the hens actually have. The current cages are 20 inches by 20 inches….. a hens wing span is about 36 inches, there are about 5-6 hens in one cage…. think about that for a moment.

The law is changing, from January 2012 the current cages (shown above) will be banned and the new ‘enriched’ cages will replace them…. The cage shown here on the left is one of the new style cages…. spot the difference. These cages are 10 inches by 11 inches per hen and have to provide 15cms of perch per hen. So they have a bit more room, but it’s not much of an improvement. 

 In order to maximise egg production, the sheds containing the cages are artificially lit for 17 hours a day. The floor of the cages are sloped forwards, so that the eggs roll out onto a conveyor belt. The droppings fall through the cage floor onto another conveyor belt. The average battery hen will produce around 338 eggs per year…. that’s a lot of eggs.

An egg normally takes about 24-26 hours to ‘make’ a normal laying hen, will lay about 257 eggs per year. This is almost 100 eggs less per year than a battery hen!! No wonder the poor things look rubbish!

 The hens remain in the battery cage until they are about 18-24 months old, when they are then considered spent and are slaughtered. Their meat is very poor quality and is used in pet food, chicken stocks, cheap pies etc….. yum.

I hope that this goes someway to helping you understand what it means to be a battery hen and indeed an ex-battery hen. I’ve never been inside a battery farm and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to. It’s a cruel and barbaric farming method which is not just limited to hens, but I’ll just focus on the hens for the time being.

Here is Mel now, this is what she looks like after just over a year out of the battery farm. 
Look at her beautiful red face and perky red comb. She is still missing a few feathers round the top of her legs, but everything else is covered in lovely glossy, brown feathers. 
She is cheeky, happy, totally spoiled and a joy to have around. 
Here she is scratching my leg. As soon as I sat down, she came over to see what I was up to. The whole time she was cooing at me. 
How could anyone say she was happy in the battery farm?

Thanks for reading. I’ve tried to keep it neutral, but I feel very strongly about this subject.

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My ex-battery hens, the first days.

Okay, so I thought for this post, I would find some pictures of our hens on their very first days out in the world!!

As mentioned in previous posts, we have 8 gorgeous ex-battery hens from the BHWT (British Hen Welfare Trust). I’ll keep mentioning them too because they are amazing. They’ve rescued over 200,000 hens to date, from what would have been death…. these birds are only about 18 months old when they’re considered ‘spent’ and this is a tragedy. Awareness is growing, but there is still a long way to go….

Anyway, back to my girls!!!

Here they all are in their shiny new home. I showed this picture on an earlier blog post, but I think it catches them perfectly!
The hens need to stay in for the first few days to minimise stress, but ours were keen to explore. 
I was at work when they arrived, as my husband and son went to pick them up. They stayed in the run for the first day and just looked shell shocked!! Poor things… 

 This is Crispy on her first day. Look how pale the face is, how many feathers are missing. 
These ladies have quite few feathers compared to some girls that have just come out, but it’s heartbreaking to think that there are millions (approx 16 million in this country) of hens kept in battery farms. How is this legal and how can anyone think it’s right?? 

Here is Chicken 11 on her first day. She looks a bit like a road runner here, due to her lack of feathers!!
She was the strangest looking, as her comb was very large and floppy! It covered one of her eyes to start with, she looked everso funny!
She had bald bits, and was the worst condition out of the original 4 hens we had. 

 This is the second day. We filled a large garden tray with some soil to give them something interesting to do. 
They started to scratch about in it and even tried to dust bathe in it!!
We opened the run door and watched. 
It was amazing to see these poor, scraggly birds, slowly perk up and explore.
Every moment that went by was something new for them and of course for us! We’d not had hens before, but I’d always wanted some. 

 The first steps outside!! Mel was the first one to take the big step! She was called Mel after Mel Gibson in Braveheart! 
We made a small temporary pen area out of chicken wire and posts, just to give them a boundary. 
Hens are actually very good jumpers and can propell themselves with their wings! This pen would not hold them now, but when they first come out of the farm, they are weak and don’t know what they’re capable of!! 
This was their first steps on grass too! Amazing!

Slowly but surely the other girls emerge from the safety of the pen.
This was only their second day with us, but they were keen to get out and about, so we let them. 
You can see in this photo the curious nature of the birds. It was raining too, another thing they had never experienced! 
Chicken 11 was still inside at this point. Here you can see Crispy, Mel and Terri taking it all in!

Chicken 11 hangs back from the others. She was the weakest and the shyest bird right from the beginning. 
She had huge feet, a huge floppy comb and always looked terrified of life! But she had the prettiest face and the sweetest disposition of them all. 

The morning of day 3! All of the girls were keen to come outside and explore! The sun was shining, the grass was wet and all the girls survived the night. 
I put some mixed corn down, just to see what they would do, but it takes a little while for hens to recognise anything but hen food as edible…. They were only fed Ex-battery crumbs at this point, as it’s the closet thing to what they would’ve eaten in the farm. 

Enjoying the sun!! The sun comes out and the feathers start to lift! 
Hens love to sunbathe, these girls will have never felt the sun on their backs before and I think this photo shows exactly what they’re thinking! Bliss!!
Chicken 11 is the first to hit the deck for a sun bathe!
Mel is stood in the front (blue leg ring) with her feathers all ruffled to allow the sun to penetrate to her skin. 

Finally, they’re doing hen things! It’s amazing how quickly they adapt to their new environment.
I believe, although sadly, that it’s this adaptability that allows them to survive in the harsh conditions of the battery farm. 

Day 4, Crispy takes her first dirt bath! This is another popular hen activity!
We provided the girls with a large garden tray filled with compost and a large cat litter tray, also filled with compost. 
A fun game is to mix meal worms into the compost, they go mad!! Meal worms are the top snack for my girls, but they are also very expensive! 

This is about a week after we got these lovely ladies. You can see how un-phased they are by anything!!
Here is my son with his wheel barrow, ‘helping’ in the garden…. this involved pushing the wheelbarrow at high speed with engine noises…. the hens weren’t bothered at all…. 
You can see how much brighter the hens look already, amazing! 

 Here is Chicken 11 looking at a piece of corn cob I put in their scratch tray…. she spends a long time making sure it isn’t deadly, before taking a closer look……

 Chicken 11 and Terri ‘attacking’ the corn cob…. they’ve decided it’s edible and not evil and eat it very enthusiastically! 

Here are Crispy and Mel about a week after we got them…. you can see already, that their combs are starting to redden and they look very much at home!
The bits on the floor are mixed corn and sultanas, although they still haven’t worked out that they can eat them yet! 
My husband made a perch for them for outside, so far, they weren’t too interested, but it takes time. 

Here is my husband feeding Mel by hand. Mel has always been the bravest and most people friendly hen.
I think she secretly wants to be a cat, even now she tries to sneak in the house…. 
This is amazing really, considering how people would have treated them up till now…. they really are wonderful creatures. 

 Crispy out of the pen! Just over a week at their new home and the girls have shown real interest in the rest of the garden!
We decide to open the pen and see if they want to roam!
Here is Crispy on the patio, you can see her straining her neck to get a closer look at everything. The tail is up and she’s fully stretched out! What a beauty!

 My husband makes a permanent pen for the girls. This gives them their own space and gives our cats a break too!!! 
The gates are open (both ends) during the day when we’re home, but they stay in here if the weather is really bad, or we go out for the day. 
Although they have a huge run, they feel a bit hard done by if they have to stay in, so this is a compromise!

Terri meets one of our cats, Spice. 
Spice is fairly indifferent to the hens, and even now, she shows respect and stays out of their way, but doesn’t run, unlike the two male cats we have. The hens will chase the male cats, but seem to leave Spice alone. 
You can see Terri sizing Spice up here…. looks like trouble!

 Mealworms!!! As previously mentioned, meal worms are the favorite treat of my hens (and any hen I would think!!). We have given them dried and live. They show no preference between the two!
The worms are always met with exciting noises and the hens will jump on top of each other to get to them. It’s very funny to see them get so over excited about food!!

Crispy in the flower bed. Now, when you have hens, unless you are willing to put fences up everywhere of have space to give them their own garden, having a flowerbed is near impossible. 
This was my flowerbed before hens….. now, only the lavender and sunflowers survive!!
I have a gooseberry bush now which seems to be alive still, but I’ve yet to have a chance to eat any of the gooseberries!! Cheeky minxes!

I’ll finish there for now, but I’ll do another few posts with some more photos of our girls. If you’re thinking of getting hens, I can’t recommend it enough, they are intelligent (but do stupid things sometimes), hilarious, friendly, affectionate and brilliant pets for children.

The ex-battery hens are so rewarding. You rescue these pathetic looking birds, and can watch them blossom in your care. A year down the road for us, and these birds look completely different!

Crispy nowadays, look at the difference! She has all of her feathers, a bright red face and comb and she’s a normal, albeit cheeky, hen!
She loves nothing more than digging in the dirt, finding worms, begging for treats (banging on the catflap till I notice and give them something) and she loves human company! 
If you’re thinking about getting hens, do it….. do it now!!! 

Here is Mel giving us a ‘hint’ that she maybe ready to leave the pen….. subtle is not her middle name!!

Thanks for reading, I hope you find this interesting. I love my hens and I love sharing them with everyone.

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Keeping Hens Part 3

Hello again,

As promised, this is our daily routine for caring for our precious hens. I usually do the early stuff and look after them through the week, then my husband looks after them on Saturday and Sunday morning whilst I’m at work. Our son helps too, mostly with collecting the eggs!

5.30-7am depending on the time of year. I get up and let the hens out of the house, I watch them all come out to make sure none of them are injured and that they all look normal. I take the droppings out of the nest boxes, top up the feeder and put fresh water in the drinkers.  The hens are then let loose into the garden for about 3 hours if I’m working, or all day if I’m home.

8am I change the newspaper in the poop catching trays in the houses, top up the nest boxes and collect any eggs that my have been laid already. If the girls are still laying, I’ll leave the newspaper changing till later, as they really don’t like being disturbed when they’re ‘busy’.  I give the garden a quick poo pick and check on all the girls.
The girls either stay in their pen whilst I’m out of the house, or they just roam around our garden for the day. We have an enclosed garden with a high fence border which also has high trees and bushes. As we live in the middle of a residential estate, foxes are only seen out at night. Our estate is surrounded by woodland which is full of bunnies, which I guess are slightly more accessible than hens. I check on the girls regularly and can see them out of the kitchen window, I actually spend a lot of time watching them too!! They are addictive and very amusing to watch! I poo pick quite often whilst I’m home and also interact with the hens as I do this. Bunty enjoys following me around the garden trying to scratch the contents of my dustpan back out onto the grass again…. not very helpful, but everso cute!

12pm  I come out to re-check the feeders and drinkers, check for eggs and poo pick again. I also like to give the girls a little treat at lunchtime, whether it’s some sultanas or cheese, just something to get them all excited! I also like to move the plant pots around too, just so the girls can get any worms!

2.30-3pm I put the girls into their pen, mostly to give the cats a chance to enjoy the garden! My cats are getting on a bit now, and mostly sleep in the house during the day, so just before dinner time, I put the hens away, the cats come out and have a leg stretch!I poo pick the garden, top the feeder up if needed and check the drinkers again. I make sure the houses are still tidy, or change the newspaper if I didn’t get to do it earlier and make sure everything is ready for bedtime.
The girls will now have some time in their pen, they have branches to perch on, a dry covered earth area to dig and dustbathe in and their run which is on concrete slabs for when it’s raining. They always have somewhere dry to stand and we’ve made sure there is plenty of shelter and space to avoid squabbles. The girls also have plastic shatterproof mirrors in their run, which they all enjoy and even perch on top of!
The hens will put themselves to bed when it starts to get dark. Again, as with the waking up time, this varies depending on the time of year. Earliest will be about 4pm in the winter, the latest is about 9.45pm in the summer. We can hear our hens quite easily in the lounge and I can check on them very easily from the kitchen.
You need to watch your hens, although they take care of themselves, you need to be very predator aware, especially with ex-battery hens. Ex-battery hens won’t have had the chance to develop hen skills and will have no experience of the outside world when you get them. It’s very important that your housing and pen area is predator proof. This is another reason we have our run on concrete, so nothing can dig into it.

4pm-9.45pm depending on the time of year I go out and shut the hen house doors and also bolt all of the run doors. I make sure the catches on the nest boxes are closed and clipped shut (we use a hasp and climbing clip to ‘lock’ the nest boxes). I also check the climbing clips are in the bolts of the hen house doors (this means only animals with thumbs can open it!).
I personally think padlocks are a bad idea, just in case you need to get in quickly, but again as I’ve said before, it’s personal choice. I do have a solar powered light for the pen and the run, but I only use these in the winter just to poo pick once the girls are locked in.

An extra daily job should be checking the integrity of your garden fencing, checking that hole digging isn’t getting out of hand and generally making sure the area is safe. 

Once a week, I scrape the houses down with my paint scraper and scrub the perches with a weak Jeyes fluid solution. I check for red mites and any other beasties everyday. They usually hide under the ends of the perches, in fact any nook and cranny in your house. This is why it’s very important to be vigilant even in winter.
The feeder and drinkers get scrubbed out thoroughly once a week, but both are checked everyday. The drinker can be checked by rinsing, and running your finger round the drinker, if it feels slimy, it needs a scrub. This is most important in the summer or if your drinker is sat in sunlight, as this will accelerate algae growth.
The bedding in the nest boxes is changed once a week. As previously mentioned, I use shredded paper from the office, but again, it’s personal preference. I’ll scrape the paving slabs in the run, especially the areas the girls like to sit (usually closest to the house in case I come out with food….) and give the slabs a scrub with the weak Jeyes solution.  The patio needs a scrub at least once a week too, as the girls love to hang out there.

Monthly jobs include red mite powdering the birds, worming (added to the feed), louse powdering the birds and buying new feed! My birds go through a 20kg sack of layers meal every month. They do eat a lot of food, especially newly released ex-battery hens!

Yearly jobs would mostly include re-painting/treating your housing, depending on what it’s made from. Also things like preparing your garden for the year ahead (hen proofing the veg patch!) and making improvements of repairs.

So that’s how I take care of my girls everyday. Hopefully this will help you if you’re thinking of getting hens. It’s different for everyone and really depends on what space you have and what suits you and your birds!
Thanks for reading! 

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Keeping Hens Part 2

Hello again,

So, in part one, I talked about the things we found most useful in our first year of keeping hens. This time, I thought, ‘what about all the other stuff?’ so, here we go. When deciding if hens are right for you, there are many things to consider. In another post, I’ll write my hen routine down, as maybe it might give you some ideas as to what is involved.

“Do I need to get up early?” Probably….They are generally very easy to look after and most of the time you’ll be cleaning up after them and enjoying their crazy antics. Unless you have a huge garden with no neighbours or neighbours with hens, you will need to get up early to let them out, especially in the summer.
There are electric door openers, but the best time to see if something is wrong with your hens, is when you let them out. In the summer, I get up at 5.30am and then as the summer draws on and come winter, I get up at 7am. They wake up as soon as it gets light, we have the windows blacked out, but the wild birds usually give the game away!

“Are hens noisy?” My hens are for the most part, very quiet. They were in my garden for at least 3 months before anyone (aside from my direct neighbours who we consulted before getting hens) actually asked me if I had chickens, as they thought they heard some! But on the odd occasion that a hen feels the need for public speaking, it’s quite loud. I tested their range once, by walking round to the back gate when one was ‘bocking’ at the top of the garden (where the house is) and it sounded like a goose! Thankfully we have a lake with geese, ducks and such on our estate, so bird noises are part and parcel of living here!
They make quiet noises, chatty little clucks and funny cooing noises all the time, but they are quieter than the local sparrows, magpies and crows!

“Will they bother my neighbours?” My neighbours are generally pretty understanding and I take measures to ensure that the girls won’t kick off at 6am, although sometimes, it does happen.
I find doing things like sprinkling sultanas in the grass for them to find or some mixed corn helps to keep them amused long enough for them to stay quiet.
They also have learned to associate a little tune I whistle for them with food or exciting stuff, so if one starts to shout, I whistle and it distracts them, usually keeping them quiet. Sounds silly, but it works. I would say, with any animal that has the potential to be noisy, it’s always best to have a chat with your neighbour, just to make sure they won’t be overly upset by your new additions. We also checked with the council too as an extra precaution. 

“What about the poo?” Next, the cleaning up. Hens poo a lot. It’s also worth remembering that birds don’t wee, it’s all mixed together and can be quite smelly. Approximately, every 10th poo, you’ll get a sticky green, yellow coloured poo called a caecal dropping, as well as looking gross, it also stinks.
Generally though, the droppings are fairly easily picked up. I use a plastic trowel and an old dustpan. I use the brush and dustpan to clean up small dust piles, as the hens enjoy emptying the flower beds onto the path….. A handy link all about poo!

“Can I use the droppings on my plants?” If, like me, you have a small garden with a bit of grass, it is important to pick up regularly after your hens, as droppings left on the grass will burn it. Hen droppings are fab as they have a high nitrate level, which, once rotted, makes excellent compost, but if you try to use it on your plants when it’s fresh, you can burn your plants.
 I have a plastic skip which I use to ‘poo pick’ and once I’ve tipped the droppings into the compost bin, I wash it out with the hose and tip the water on the flower beds or veg patch…. this seems fine.
The hens will need a thorough clean out once a week, although it’s wise to stay on top of the cleaning and clean their housing regularly.

“Is cleaning them out hard?” Our housing has pull out muck trays, which are great. I put fresh newspaper in the tray and tip the old, soiled newspaper into the compost bin. This saves time and usually, I only need to scrub the much tray once a week.
The nest boxes need to be poo picked once the girls have been let out, otherwise your lovely eggs will be laid into poo. Just saves you having to clean it off!
Essential cleaning tools are

  • a paint scraper – for dried on poo and mud
  • a dustpan and brush with a trowel – for poo picking and pile collecting
  • a skip/bucket/container – for transportation and collection of poo
  • some form of animal safe disinfectant – to give the house a weekly once over
  • a bucket and a scrub brush – for cleaning the feeders and drinkers
  •  Diatomaceous earth or similar mite prevention powder – I prefer the earth as it kills all the beasties that my bother your birds and it’s 100% safe and natural. 

Other than these things, you can use your imagination, find a routine that suits you and stick to it. So long as you aren’t lazy about cleaning your birds out, it’s a doddle!

“Are they fun to keep?” A sense of humor is essential. Hens have a great sense of humor. They can make mischief out of anything! Just when you think your veg patch is safe, they’ll find a way in!
Remember that hens can jump pretty high, they can dig and they really aren’t stupid and you’ll be fine. Distraction seems to be the key to avoiding havoc (with our hens anyway!) so giving them plenty to do and think about, will keep them out of mischief. They all have individual personalities and you’ll have great fun finding out which is the bossy one, the shy one etc….

“What about our cats?” We have 3 cats as well as our 8 hens, and generally it’s understood that the hens are in charge. Our cats were 9 and 10 years old when we got our hens and the cats really didn’t know what to make of the hens when we got them. But after being chased down the garden a few times, the cats saty out of the hens way. Neighbourhood cats show an interest and will spy on the hens from a far, but I’ve not seen any other cats in our garden for ages…..

“What happens when one gets ill?” Hens are generally tough as old boots. But, when you notice one isn’t right, she usually really isn’t right and so some quick thinking and a bit of book knowledge can help immensely. It’s also worth looking in your area to find a vet with hen knowledge, as although hens are popular pets, some vets still have limited knowledge of them or are just not willing to acknowledge them as pets. The British Hen Welfare Trust – list of hen friendly vets. Here is a link for the BHWT website’s hen friendly vet list. But do some research!
A good chicken book can help, we found the Haynes Chicken Manual very useful and you can find near enough anything on the net!
But as with any animal, try not to panic, don’t be afraid to ask for help and do what you can. You’ll very quickly find your feet and feel confident to deal with most things.

I’ll be writing a part 3 soon. I’ll show you our routine for caring for our hens. I’m sure I do more than is required, but that’s just how I am! It comes from working with horses for 20+ years and being slightly OCD!!

Thanks again for reading.

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Keeping hens part 1

Hello again,

I thought it would be nice to put together a list of things that we have found useful in the first year of keeping hens.

Firstly, the hens, as I previously mentioned, are ex-battery hens from BHWT (British Hen Welfare Trust) a brilliant charity who rescues hens at the end of their battery life (18 months old on average) and finds new homes for them. You can buy hens from breeders and farms but these hens are in need of a home and make wonderful pets for any backyard hen keeper.

You don’t need to have a huge garden to keep hens. So long as you have space for the housing and some space for them to dig about in, they’ll be happy. Ex-battery hens have been packed into a tiny cage for 18 months, so any space will seem enormous to them!
A bit of grass is nice, they like a good graze, but if like me, you only have a small garden, you need to poo pick to keep the grass healthy. It’s all about management.

Housing. There are many, many options for the housing, from wooden traditional houses to the new trendy houses. We went for a wooden traditional house as it fitted in with our garden and I prefer to use natural materials, it’s a personal choice though.

This is the house we chose for our hens. We have two of these, end to end. They are built to house 6 hens, so having 4 in each, gives them a little extra space. This house is from HenHouseWorld and we can’t recommend them enough. Prompt deliver, quality products and excellent customer servic all at reasonable prices. 

 Here is the plastic equivalent for 6-10 hens. It’s called an eggcube and is from Omlet. It’s a little bit pricey compared to the wooden equivalent. I’ve not had any experience with these, so I guess it would be personal choice.

There are many different options, and your choice should reflect on your personal circumstances. We choose the wooden design shown here as it’s fairly low and blends in to the garden. We don’t have a large garden and it’s long and narrow, so we didn’t want anything that would block our view down the garden.

The one thing to bear in mind when choosing the material your house is made from is cleaning and maintenance. I would imagine the plastic houses are easier to keep clean and you could just hose them out. The wooden houses need looking after with regards to some kind of wood preservative and red mites.

An outside pen can be very useful. As mentioned, we only have a small garden, so some time in a pen can help when you need to rest the lawn or the cats! (hens like chasing cats) We have a little enclosed area outside of their run, as there are 8 of them, they need to have their own space to prevent arguments and boredom.

Here is our run, we now have a temporary roof on it at the moment, which we will be replacing before winter. 
This is a homemade pen, made by my husband. It’s great to leave them in when we go out for the day as it’s not a great idea to leave hens loose. They get up to mischief and also you need to consider predators. (excuse the laundry…..) 

The next things to think about are feeders and drinkers. Hens can be very wasteful with their feed and again, it will depend on your hens as to which feeder is right for you. Our first hens were pretty tidy and a basic feeder was sufficient. When we got our second batch of hens, they weren’t so tidy. I ended up throwing a lot of wasted feed away.

This is a 12 hen feeder. We switched to this once the newer hens started wasting so much feed. They used to stand in the old one and dig the feed out allover the floor. 
With this feeder, as it’s raised off the floor, they can no longer do that. It’s fairly heavy too, so there’s no chance of it being tipped over. 
The only downside is, it’s quite large, so it would be no good if you only have a small run. 

 This was the type of feeder we started with. It sits on the floor, so the hens just stood and dug the feed out of the bottom. I tried to stand it on something, but it’s not very big and heavy, so it just got knocked over. If you have polite hens, this would be fine.

The drinker is not so tricky, it needs refreshing everyday and cleaning regularly. Even if it looks clean, algae will build up, especially in the summer. Best way to check is to run your finger around the drinker, if it feels slimy, it needs a scrub. When it feels squeaky clean, it is!
A friend of mine advised me before I got my hens, that they drink a lot, and she wasn’t wrong! We have two 6 litre drinkers for our hens, I always feel it’s better to have too much water available than not enough.

Here is the drinker that we have. I love the legs! It raises it off the floor so that the bowl doesn’t get filled with mud. My hens love to dig and flick things everywhere and the one we had to start with sat on the floor and just got filthy. This one stays pretty clean! We have this one out in the pen, and one on the floor in the run. Our run is on paving slabs, so there is nothing to flick into the inside one!

The next thing to think about is what will you feed your hens? If you decide to go for ex-battery hens, the best thing for them to start with is Ex-battery crumbs. The hens will have been fed something similar in the battery farm and probably won’t eat anything else to start with. We used this for about 3 months before trying ours on the pellets (of the same brand) but, even now, our hens won’t eat pellets. You can buy the feed in various size bags, but due to postage and packing, it’s usually cheaper to buy it from a local supplier than from the internet. 
I use a farm shop near a yard I work at, but places like Pets at Home also stock it, but they do tend to be a bit pricey. It’s best to do some research before you get some hens, as availability will vary depending on where you live.

Another consideration regarding feed, will be storage. It can’t get wet and you need to make sure the mice can’t get to it. I chose simple plastic rubbish bins from B&Q. They weren’t expensive and I’ve had no problem with them.
When they’re empty, they’re light enough to be easy to clean and when they’re full, they’re still light enough to be moved about (worms hide under them too, so they need moving so the girls can have a snack). Again, this will depend on how many hens you have. I buy my feed in 20kg sacks, and the bins easily take a whole sack, with room to spare.

Bedding! A difficult subject as many people will tell you what they think is best and why your choice is wrong, but to be honest, as long as it does the job and your hens are healthy and happy, then do what it right for you.
We use shredded paper from the office! I don’t buy bedding. In the winter I mix a bit of straw into the paper, but that’s just to keep the bed fluffy! Straw can harbor bugs and if slightly musty, can cause respiratory problems, same with hay. There are many, many options and again, do your research, try a few out and decide what’s best for your hens.

Parasite control. I’ve mentioned red mite, they’re probably the biggest challenge you’ll face! A wonderful product that I use is Diatomaceous Earth. I’ve found Diatom to be the best value and it works wonders. You can feed it for worm control, dust the hens and housing to control red mite and lice, heck you can even use it in your garden.
We have neighbours trees down the side of our garden which are usually filled with sparrows. We’ve never had a major problem with red mite, but I have found a few. Since using the diatomaceous earth, I’ve hardly found any mite or seen any mite droppings. Fab!
The key to keeping these beasties away though, is making sure you stay on top of keeping the house clean. Hens are easy to look after if you have a solid routine. They need cleaning out, feeding and watering everyday, other than that, they tend to take care of themselves.

The other main parasites are worms and lice. We use a product called Flubenvet which is a powder you add to their feed to worm your hens. For lice, a dusting every 6 weeks of powder is all it takes! Again, I use the same stuff for the lice as for the red mites. The diatomaceous earth is natural and works by dehydrating the insects. It won’t harm your hens. I try to use natural products where I can, but only if it works.

Eggs! If you have hens, you’ll have some lovely eggs! But the biggest thing we had trouble with was egg boxes! Sounds crazy, but when you have hens, you don’t buy eggs, so no egg boxes. So we rely on our lovely friends to give us their egg boxes, in return, we occasionally give them a full box back! Good swap I say!
You can sell your eggs with no complications and it shouldn’t be too hard to find some customers. There are no eggs better than backyard hens eggs in my opinion!

Well, I can’t think of anything else right now, but if I do I’ll post some more. Feel free to leave a comment or send a message if you think I missed anything. Remember, all of the above is what we found to work, be useful for us. What you do with your hens should be what’s best for them and what works for you. I hope this helped a bit.

I will add another post regarding tips for the garden and actual day to day care but I’ll save that for another day.

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Some pictures from the garden.

Hello again,

Now, as previously mentioned, I like gardening! I thought I’d put a few pictures up of some of my favorite plants from my garden.

 I love sunflowers, they’re easy to grow and the hens don’t seem to eat them….. These are red sunflowers, I do have one which is a lot darker than these, I’ll post it at the end.

 This is a miniature sunflower. The only one that survived. Sadly, the slugs got to the others. I was gutted. They seemed to come out of nowhere, and in one night, I had one seedling left. 

 This is one of my strawberry plants. It has pink flowers, which I thought was odd, because I’ve only ever seen plants with white flowers. The strawberries are longer and have bigger seeds than our other (white flowered) plant.

 This is a Tomatillo plant. This is a plant native to Mexico. I thought I’d try and grow one. I had to germinate the seeds at 27 ‘C, which is tricky in this country!! Thanks to the un-seasonally hot spring, it grew, and grew and grew! I’ve yet to get any fruit from it. 

My beautiful climbing rose bush. We bought this last year, so it’s still a baby, but the roses are gorgeous. So long as I remember to ‘dead head’ the plant, it flowers all summer long. 

 One of my tomato plants. I have some plants outside, some in the veg patch and some grown in a cloche. They’ve all fruited, the cloche fruit are bigger, but none has ripened yet. I’ve been very good and remembered to feed and prune them, so hopefully all the fruit will ripen soon.

My potato plant. This is the first year I’ve grown potatoes. We’ve already had one crop from this plant and this is the second sprouting. I’m hoping to get another crop as the potatoes were lovely!

This is the lovely dark red sunflower. We do have some giant sunflowers too, but it started raining before I could get a photo. I’ll upload one soon.

Those are just a few of our plants, we also have beetroot, chilli, courgettes, lettuce and carrots (orange and purple).

The hens make veg growing a little tricky as everything has to be fenced off or put out of reach! But as rotivators, you can’t beat a hen!

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Our 88" Series III Land Rover ‘Frank the Tank’

Hello again,

I thought it was time to write about our wonderful truck, Frank.

For a couple of years now I have been driving a small, Ford Fiesta named Filbert.

This is Filbert. A 1998, Mark 5 Fiesta. 1.3 petrol engine and 60BHP….. 
We bought him after some idiot crashed into our Citroen Berlingo ‘Bernie’. 
I like purple, and Filbert was perfect. We had a few teething troubles to start with due to him not being looked after very well by his previous owner and the dealer we bought him from being a total douche bag, but generally, he’s a good boy and he’s never let me down. 

 …. this is ‘Frank’. A 1977 88″ Land Rover Series III. I’d been on the lookout for a small 4×4 for work and I saw this little guy at a farm shop whilst buying chicken feed. It was love at first sight. He needs a paint job, but aside from that he’s immaculate.

Now Filbert has done a good job. I’ve driven him in all weathers and road conditions. He even kept me mobile in the deep snow…. once it started to get above a 1ft however, I could hear it scraping along the bottom of the car. So I begun looking, we looked into the Vitaras, Explorers and other such, but none seemed right.

Then, one day whilst shopping for chicken feed at a farm near to a yard I work at, I saw Frank for sale. I looked him over and couldn’t find anything wrong, the underside was rust free and had been treated in the past, but needed doing again and there were no horrible leaks anywhere (for an old Landie).

I spoke to the owner and found out the truck had been owned by a former employee who could no longer afford to keep it as she split from her husband. She had to sell her horses, car, everything. Very sad. So Frank had been doing odd jobs round the farm. He’d been MOT’d a few times, but not every year and as there was a garage on site, I guess he’d been kept in pretty good shape. Aside from a few dents and scratches, there was nothing I could see that raised alarm.

I asked my knowledgeable friend to come and take a look at Frank to see what he thought, and he was very impressed and at the price they were asking, I couldn’t say no. So I agreed to buy him. I told my husband, who didn’t actually get to see Frank until I picked him up and paid for him a couple of days later!

My husband has always loved Land Rovers. He’d had an A reg Range Rover a few years previously and loved it. But due to his commuting needs, a Land Rover just wouldn’t be viable. He does over 100 miles a day up and down the M3, so he has an old Audi A4 that manages to do 60MPG. Frank is averaging about 18-22MPG, so you can see the problem.

Anyway, I tend to work close to home, due to Alex being so young and occasionally being called back to school to pick him up, so Frank is ideal for me. I don’t like new cars, I can’t handle electrical and complicated things, so again, Frank is ideal!

We’ve had Frank for just over a month now, and are slowly doing little bits to tidy him up and make him run at his best. My husband and our knowledgeable friend have started to service Frank. He’s had new HT leads, plugs, a new ignition coil and he’s just about to get his points done too. See the post ‘busy day’ LOL!

We plan to have Frank re-painted too and replace or bang out the front wings as they have ‘farm dents’ on them. As Frank has less than 6,000 miles on his clock, due to sitting around twiddling his thumbs, he is in very good condition, still has all the factory plates in the cab and engine bay, and you can read them!! The engine bay itself is very tidy and was just a bit grubby, but after a clean, it shows his low mileage.

Here is Frank from the front. Gorgeous! His spare tyre was removed at this point, as we had no way to lock it onto the bonnet. This has since been resolved as he looks a bit odd without it in it’s proper place! We also had to remove the AA badge too, as I know someone would nick it. But as you can see, he’s in excellent condition for his age. 

I shall write about Frank as we do bits on him. Refer to our main blog for technical stuff, as that’s more my husbands area…. I’m learning but still very very novice!!

So that’s Frank and little Filbert. Both lovely cars, there is no reason why both their names begin with ‘F’ that’s just how it turned out.

Thanks for reading again.

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