We were entertained and informed in equal measure by Charlotte Popescu on “Keeping hens in the garden”. This was a new topic for us although there are hen-keepers among our members, some “may-be’s” and some “no-thank-you’s”. All of us learned something new from a real expert who went from keeping 4 to 50 free range hens and now writes popular books and articles on the rewards (and some trials) of keeping hens…..and cockerels.
There are now three quarters of a million hen-keepers in the U.K who love the charm of these creatures and enjoy the wonderful fresh eggs they provide. We discovered hens have good eyesight, and are sociable; love grass, perching, preening and dustbaths , need shelter from the wind and rain and enjoy sunbathing.
We saw a lovely slideshow of many of the breeds available including larger pure breeds such as Rhode Island Reds, Marans, Orpingtons and Leghorns and the smaller pure breeds of bantams (including the Araucana which lays a lovely blue egg). We learnt about the hybrids developed to breed all year and the hardy garden-bred crossbreeds. We looked at the recovering ex-battery hens and also the role of the cockerel who as well as fertilizing the eggs, keeps alert for buzzards and breaks up hen-fights!
We finished by looking at some general care tips including food shelter and feeding options. We heard about predators – badgers, foxes, buzzards and dogs and discovered that although hens may eat your vegetables if they are not protected, they will also eat your slugs and snails. Hurrah for hens! We ended the evening by buying some multi-coloured freshly laid eggs and signed books on both hen-keeping and cookery – another of Charlottes area of expertise.
We have a number of summer outings planned, visitors are welcome and all details can be found on the village website or call the Club Secretary on 07764 576106.