It might be great weather for ducks, but not for hens. These birds have been out of their cages for twelve days, and it has rained almost every day since. The poor things have been released into a soggy windswept August, better than a tiny cage I suppose but it seems terribly unfair after such a warm summer so far. The relentless driving rain has brought the reality of keeping chickens into sharp focus, and has somewhat tempered my equally relentless enthusiasm for leaping out of bed at 6.00am. The wet weather has put paid to my husband’s visits to see the birds, and if I want Teddy to come with me he drives a ruthless bargain that results in me carrying him all the way there and back and a treat when we get home. For Teddy the temptation of checking for eggs washed away with the raindrops.
Everything is so much harder in the rain. Yesterday I arrived to find the bin that contains all the chicken food knocked over, several sacks of feed sopping wet and an inch of water swilling around at the bottom. I had to carry it all home through the pouring rain, sort out the wet from the dry feed into a bucket and hope that it wouldn’t go mouldy and then all go to waste. The hens keep managing to dismantle their feeder somehow which results in a sodden wet mush of food in their pen (heaven for passing rats which are a danger to hens), so all that has to be scraped off the ground along with all the wet chicken poop. I have to cover over the entire pen so the hens will stay remotely dry, but somehow they still look brill-creamed as the relentless wind forces the rain through the sides. To make things worse I discovered a dreaded red mite in the coop (a common but horrible pest for chickens as it feeds off blood in their feet over night and is very painful), so I had to remove all the bedding, clean out the coop, spray with anti-mite solution and then replace all the straw. All of this I did in the pouring rain, in a hurry, because I had promised my somewhat neglected family I would not be spending my usual half hour chatting to the hens, only to discover another red mite two days later. Hmm, looks like I will have to seek some advice from the professionals on how to deal with this.
Keeping hens isn’t as easy as I had thought.
On a more positive note our friend Lynne Franks came to stay for the weekend, and although I had hoped to get a sunny picture of her with Mrs Tufty the hen, the wet weather prevented even one quick snap so here she is instead enjoying one of her eggs for breakfast: