If you have stayed at Carpenter’s Cottage you will no doubt have met our four, friendly, free-range hens: Mavis, Phyllis, Agnes and Gladys. We have loved having them roam free in the garden, keeping the slug population at bay and bobbing over for a chat whenever we sat out with a cup of tea. However, we have decided that their friendly ways have to come to an end for two reasons. The first is that we have not been able to grow any but the most hardy plants in the garden because those winged rotavators dig mosts things up. That has meant that, for the last two years, the raised beds have been fallow and all our veg has come from the local shops. Second, they cannot be trained to leave their nutrient rich ‘gifts’ in the flower beds, and we have had to regularly go out and scoop up their droppings from all over the yard and lawn.

So, the plan for the Summer is to give them their own part of the garden where they can have a happy, free-range existence but we can keep them off the rest of the garden. We have a small orchard at the top end of the garden that we have earmarked for the new ‘Chicken Republic’. They will need a new house (their current one is fifteen years old and will not survive being moved again!), more grass to munch for their glowing yellow yolks and also we want to be able to see them, even though they will be fenced in. As with all our best ideas, this will need some time to take shape. We have given ourselves until the Autumn to get the chicken area set up. Now is the time to sit back and work out how to make it a reality…

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