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August 6, 2015 / Burgess Park Food Project

We have hens!

George makes sure a hen knows his legs are off-limits

George makes sure a hen knows his legs are off-limits

Considered to be redundant and past their prime, ten pretty hens were transported from their factory farm to our garden on 26th July. A few days later, bossy Sarah arrived, from a good home in Brixton.

In spite of their unhappy past, the rescue hens soon worked out what was food, what was drink and where was a good place to lay eggs. Sarah (banished from Brixton) tried to bully her way to the top, but… things can only get better: read on.

By the Wednesday, the hens were pulling up plants, making nests in the hay, laying eggs (yes!) and proving themselves to be a valuable addition to the garden: they love snails.

Enemy No. 1 is the fox who lives under the mounds, but a combination of a concrete floor and a metal-framed coop means that means he can only stare longingly at them. He stares, the chickens squawk. But they’re still laying, and, though many are missing feathers from their chest or tail, they look far shinier than they did.

Alastair’s daily visits have been paying off. Now they noisily gather round the feet of anyone who comes in (and try to hot-foot it out the door).

Last Sunday they had a ball: plenty of visitors to their coop. Our rescue hens are surprisingly open and friendly, pecking at bare legs and toes, not arguing when moved and – bar Sarah – allowing themselves be stroked. No longer is Sarah the sole one pecking at the rest: there’s another boss pot in the nest.

One of our younger volunteers, Zainab, discovered that at the top of the hens’ favourite things list are ripe blackberries and people’s shoes, while Bronwyn found out that a head of lettuce swinging at hen-height is the best game ever. But our 11 chickens are not here just to have fun: they are earning their keep. They’re laying six to eight eggs daily between them, and we’re selling the eggs to pay for their food: 20p a piece.

Fancy popping in to say hello, and donating the odd empty egg box? We’re here every Sunday 1-4!

Interested in joining the chicken group, to help manage and develop? Email Simon at simondthomas@yahoo.com

Photos and captions courtesy of Melissa

One hen poses for the camera while the other checks out Zainab's box for blackberries

One hen poses for the camera while the other checks out Zainab’s box for
blackberries

A hen wonders whether leg hair is as delicious as it looks

A hen wonders whether leg hair is as delicious as it looks

Melissa holds a friendly hen

Melissa holds a friendly hen

Sarah's first day: she doesn't know whether Simon's legs or the open door are more tempting

Sarah’s first day: she doesn’t know whether Simon’s legs or
the open door are more tempting

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