Friday, 25 September 2009

Confined to Barracks

Posted by Rosie

We have possibly the most unhappy chickens in Calvados - in fact probably the most unhappy chickens in France. Today they have been confined to the hen houses and half a field rather than having the run of the place and the farmer's field. And it is the latter that has caused their internment. Yesterday, when I went to collect the boys from the bus stop, a rather embarrassed farmer's wife asked if we could possibly stop our chickens going in to the neighbouring field as they were eating all the Colza (Oilseed rape) that her chef has sown.

Now it has to be said we get on very well with our farming neighbour - he helped clear the hay from the gite and has given us 2 large bales of hay without accepting any payment. Over the summer his children spent a lot if time over here and we buy milk from him a couple of times a week. There is no way therefore that we would want to upset him so we needed to think of a way of keeping the chickens in.

Temporary fences were put up, other fences were raised, holes under fences and gates were blocked. Had we done enough to retain the 2 flocks? With trepidation we let out both the white chicks and the hens/ducks. Less than 5 minutes later 2 white chicks were out but a quick check of the gate revealed their escape hole which was swiftly blocked and they stayed put for the rest of the say. Cross, but confined.

Mrs Black was the first to attempt an escape from the Hen House - up onto the to sheep-proofing fence and a hop and a skip out was her normal means of escape. Only today this route was blocked by extra high fencing. She looked a tad confused and tried again. And again. FOILED!!

Mrs Black Tail was the first to actually escape - and managed to lay an egg in the barn during her few moments of freedom. But how had she managed it? Simon and I watched for a while, but all seemed quiet so we went in for breakfast. Half way through toast and blackberry jelly Simon looked up and saw Mrs Cross Beak escaping under the sheep field fence. How the heck had she got in there in the first place? Ah ha - under the gate between the hen house and sheep field. Gate duly blocked and Mrs Cross Beak and Mrs Black Tail were FOILED.

For a while all was without incidence and then I espied a fast moving chicken in front of the house. We had another escapee. Mrs Black was out and within seconds of returning her she was out again ...... through the unblocked window from the hen house to the toy shed . Clever - but a couple of cushions used to block the window and yet another escapee was FOILED.

During most of the afternoon the flock behaved itself although every time I went near the hen house they rushed up to the gate expecting to be let out. It was all rather pityful but at least when the farmer came to check his field the chickens were were all where they should be. It was only later that I saw Mrs Gold in the adjacent field and as yet I have no idea how she got there.

And whilst all this has been a bit of a pain it is not without its compensation. Hopefully after a few days of confinement those hens who have insisted on laying their eggs anywhere except the hen house will realise the hen house is rather a good place and Simon and I will not have to spend hours combing barns and hedgerows for stashes of eggs.


  1. And I thought I sometimes had it difficult with 2 hens! Rosie reading that made me giggle! You poor things chasing around after those pesky cluckers! Great names too :) I hope the confinement works out for you and your feathery ladies. Xx

  2. I know only too well, how they can form escape committees and try everything to get out, it makes for a frustrating day. Poor you having to keep them in, but if like you say they start to lay in one place it will all have been worth it.

    Sue xx

  3. Oh you did make me chuckle! The French version of "Chicken Run"! It is amazing how they manage to escape through the smallest hole in places you wouldn't imagine they knew! Hope you get a bounty of eggs. My ladies are the same - I've had to shut them up each night only letting them out by mid-day so they lay in the hen house and not on top of the hay stack in the barn - beyond my reach..... however with shorter days coming I may have to revise that plan as I hate depriving them of "stratching about" time....

  4. We do seem to have stopped them all escaping at last although Mrs Gold did get out a couple more times. I think she's lonely once out on her own though so hasn't made an escape bid for a couple of days now.

    The girls have however, managed to get their own back - egg numbers have fallen and one is still manging NOT to lay in the boxes, preferring instead the sheep shelter.

    I'm glad you like the names Lucy - interestingly it's only those with Mrs in their name who escaped - Fluffy Chick, Chocolate, Norma, Old Speckled Hen, Other Old One, Mabel and Chicken Licken stayed put!!


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