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Monday, 26 January 2015

The Hens and the fox.


 A story as old as time...
 Our hen run that surrounds a small orchard (a dozen fruit trees) is well built, 6 foot high chain link fencing. Usually the hens have free run of the whole garden (excluding the veg. patch) and the hen run is used as a quarantine area or a temporary enclosure when the fox is hungry. This is usually in mid-winter when other prey is scarce or in late spring/ early summer when there are hungry cubs to feed.
 Over 15 years of keeping hens we have found that for most of the year the fox leaves us alone.

 We have lost our old cock and this white boy is having a trial run as the new chief.

Last year we had a dozen cockrels running in the woods, all summer and autumn. We were, ( I was), late culling them and the fox decided to help, he took 2 before we kept them out of his reach in the barn, the rest of the hens were confined to the orchard . He had a taste for chicken though, enough to somehow scale the fence. I went in with a torch at 7.30 one morning to open the nest boxes ... and as I opened the orchard gate I was greeted with feathers, the torch then lighted on a body, and then another. All told, we lost 5 old hens. Miraculously the turkeys and 10 hens, including all the young layers, were spared.

 This photo is from last October. The big white eggs were laid by the turkeys, they lay eggs in the spring and autumn.

We (I) eventually dealt with all the cockrels, You are spared photos, as I had both hands busy all the time! This is Tivon starting a dry pluck, although I do a wet pluck as the feathers fall out so easily after a dip in hot water. The chickens went into the freezer for future roasts, which will be followed by meals of chicken curry and of course wonderful chicken stock.

We have also been getting through the pork mince, making sausages with herbs from the garden and a pinch of salt.

 Tivon is eager to help make sausages even if he is not so eager to eat them.

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