About hens

I could never bake, I tried but some how whatever I put in the oven never came out looking like the photos in the recipe books. My 2 older boys suffered years of the most awful birthday cakes...I stubbornly refused to give up, all good mothers baked their children's birthday cakes I thought. Anyway I carried on trying and burning, cakes would turn to biscuits, biscuits would turn into a dentists worst nightmare. My sister and I shared the talent for awhile, there was a very memorable cake we baked together, we had to leave it outside in the rain for days before it would give up the tin!

 You get the idea..I couldn't bake so finally I gave up, my boys sighed with relief. Then more recently when Chris got ill, I started to bake again like a mad person. I was like a thing possessed I wanted, needed the smell of freshly baked bread, cakes, biscuits in the house. I wanted my family to have something that made them smile and feel they had been given a treat. I wanted them to have comfort food against not a particularly comfortable time. A psychologist would no doubt have a theory, I know that baking is a known thing for people suffering from depression (Marian Keyes...Saved by cake)...I wasn't depressed. You can't be depressed when your partner has cancer because cancer is the ultimate illness there just isn't room in one family for anything else, besides I was too busy baking.

So I baked to the point were even my choux pastry was really quite impressive, I made my big boys favourite profiteroles, my middle boy his favourite chocolate brownies and they were good, even I was impressed and I am my worst critic. I had made amends for the years they had to put up with my terrible baking. I made bread, pastries, cakes and biscuits, one of Chris's jokes was to say if the cancer didn't get him then my cakes would (so glad that he didn't lose his sense of humour...even if his hair wasn't quite so lucky)...well thankfully neither the cancer or the cakes got him but the baking thing had got me. It reached ridiculous heights last year when I baked my friends wedding cake. I would suggest that you never, ever jokingly offer to make your friends wedding cake if there's the vaguest possibility of it actually happening! I even grew the edible flowers for it...little near black violas...it was a wedding at Halloween after all.
Ta Dah!...not too bad for a first attempt!
I promise this is leading up to why I now have hens. I realised at some point that I was using a ridiculous number of eggs and somehow this thought made the huge leap to owning my own hens. I had never had any idea of having hens, I've always lived in a city, never owned a big garden but once I started to look into it I discovered that it wasn't such a silly idea, loads of people had hens in their back gardens.

 I had once had a rabbit with it's own bedroom, much to my sisters amusement, she still lives on the story, it wasn't as stupid as it sounds, Hobo was a house rabbit...I had a spare room, it became hers, the chest of drawers in there was not for her little rabbit outfits as my sister has told people..it was just there! So anyway the idea of hens in a small back garden didn't seem such a leap when I had had a rabbit with it's own room. I've also always had animals, from fish to dogs...I bought myself a hamster for my 30th birthday...why not? she was lovely. So hens could just join my list of past and present pets...if a little different, I'd never had a pet that had a clear purpose before. 

 I took myself to hen school because it occurred to me that apart from my step mother's budgie (really not quite the same) I had never even touched a bird before let alone picked one up...what if their flapping freaked me out? It didn't, I fell in love..we were all in a small field surrounded by various breeds to practice picking them up properly, they clucked, squawked, ran around us, got the better of us less competent class members...they made me laugh...fatal.

 I decided a smaller breed would be best, small garden, small hens..perfect! I talked Chris into the idea, he didn't take much persuading. It was with hindsight unfair to make a sick man agree to hens, he has since at times deeply regretted ever having said yes, especially when they are in full shrieking mode, he 'effectionately' calls them the peacocks. He has also offered to strangle them at times...he wouldn't really I'm sure. 

I chose Pekin bantams, pretty little hens that have a lovely temperament, very friendly and good with children, which for me was very important. The lady that ran the hen class had a beautiful smallholding (not jealous at all really) and I was able to order my hens from her so I could get all the advice I needed. I could also be sure that they would be coming from a good place where they had been properly looked after and be completely healthy. I wanted to get them as young as possible but it was still quite a wait, it was nearly 3 months in fact before I got the email to say I could come and pick them up. I'd kept myself busy ordering their new home and putting it together, good job I'm a professional Ikea flat packed furniture builder:)  

I went to pick up my 3 little hens, I know its a cliche but I really was that kid at Christmas. They were about 11 weeks old, well pass the cute, tiny (difficult to sex) stage but still very young, quite a way off egg laying age. They set about laying waste to the garden instead like little feathery bulldozers, and making the decking even more of slipping hazard with the unbelievable amount of mess they could produce. Eventually I had to take evasive action, I fenced them in, they now have half the garden we have the other...we are all much happier, at least the plants are... the grass still hasn't quite recovered though.

All brand new...I used to have grass...I'd forgotten

They grew, their combs and wattles developed and turned a deep red and they finally started to lay eggs. It is a stupidly exciting moment when your hen lays her first egg...I have photos that only I understand of that proud moment! There was a bit of a flaw in my dream of eggs to use for baking, small hens mean small eggs of course. But they are the most delicious eggs...and they are the best hens, they really do have their own individual characters, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. I really wouldn't want to be without Betty, Barbara and Boo...the garden would just be too quiet and would lose its sense of humour. I know secretly Chris feels the same really:)...


  1. That's my wedding cake - and it was truly perfect!

  2. Ah thank you lady...it was a complete pleasure...just wish it hadn't looked so drunk by the time you cut it though;) x


Comments are always welcome, nice kind ones at least! Any advice for a complete novice would also be gratefully received:) Thanks.