Louise Holtom from Northants was keen to get some chickens, and used some guile to persuade her husband Vaughan. He tells the story

hat started as a desperate cry for help… and a homemade quiche… has rapidly become one of the most rewarding experiences we as a family have ever enjoyed together.

Some friends of ours, knowing of our desire to care for some chickens, covertly spoke to my wife, Louise, on account of my procrastinating and general distraction with the more pressing business of golf.

Subsequently, and much to my surprise, one day in early June Louise announced, rather cleverly I must say, over a delicious homemade quiche made from free range eggs, that we were inheriting some chickens. Words to the effect of ‘you know how much you are enjoying that quiche Darling, well we will soon be enjoying this every day when Rob and Nicola drop off their chickens! You did know they were moving?’

So distracted was I by the quiche and news that friends were moving away, it almost didn’t register that we were going to be inheriting their flock of eight fully grown hens.

Having already second guessed my objection, while uncharacteristically slipping another large piece of quiche on my plate, Louise delightfully informed me that Rob was providing not only all the chickens and the coop, but also all the materials to build our very own chicken run. All I had to do was clear the current allotment, go and collect all the materials, build the run, collect the coop followed by the chickens and I would be in quiche and egg custard heaven for the rest of my life. Simples really.

The invasion

It was a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon when the chickens and the coop finally arrived. Having completed building the SAS and fox-proof enclosure, we were now ready. The whole family, including grandparents, were gathered to greet the new arrivals.

How proudly we marched down the garden path carrying the chicken coop, my eldest son Timothy at the front, and how easily I recall dismissing my daughter’s innocent observation that the chicken coop wasn’t going to fit through the door. Much to my embarrassment it didn’t fit! Never mind, I said reassuring everyone, this was all part of my cunning plan and, proving that desperation is the mother of invention, we did eventually get it through the roof space and into the enclosure! Someone order me a new back please!

Exactly one week later we nervously let the chickens out into our garden, to become fully fledged Free Range Chickens. I don’t know exactly what we expected, but one thing we didn’t expect was for them to so quickly destroy all of Louise’s prize geraniums! Within two hours it was beginning to feel like a major chicken invasion. Not to be so easily thwarted or embarrassed, we both agreed that we had talked about remodelling the garden next year anyway! After all, the chickens seemed so much happier now they were out and about scratching and remodelling the lawn.

I am convinced chickens are far more intelligent than we give them credit for. For example, when it came to rounding up the chickens and getting them back in the run, I would readily quote the famous words of Mr Tweedy from the film Chicken Run: ‘Them chickens are organised’. Or so it seemed, because no sooner had I managed to herd them all together and get them generally heading in the right direction, than two would make a break for it and the others would then promptly head off in totally the opposite direction.

Eventually I found a pink magic wand works wonders! In desperation I picked up my daughter’s fishing net. It would appear that this device casts a spell on my chickens, and they all in single file head off to the run. I have yet to figure out why this is the case, but I am just glad to have discovered a method that works. At least now I am able to look my neighbours in the eyes again, knowing that they have stopped laughing at me running around the garden chasing conspiratorial chickens.

Little did I realise when this adventure started that keeping chickens would bring not only gastronomical delights but would pull our family together in a mutual hobby as we all enjoyed the fun and delights of our feathered little friends and their amusing antics. We really can’t imagine life without chickens now! There really is something strangely compelling about them.

Image(s) provided by: