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The Good Life – Alpine Living

It's like snow of a hens backKeeping Chickens

Keeping hens in the garden has become a popular pastime for many people living in urban as well as country environments. For years, my husband gently resisted my suggestions that it would be a fantastic idea for us, imagine I said lovely fresh eggs every day and the gentle clucking as they go about their daily chores – keeping the garden pest free. Eventually he capitulated, and before he knew it he was hard at work, building coops, fences and gates to corral the girls once they arrived. I’d been advised, by hardened poultry owners not to name my flock (all three of them), hens are nearing the bottom of the food chain, next to mice and garden birds and it was inevitable that losses would occur. However, determined not to be swayed by such lack of sensibility I decided to start at the beginning of the alphabet and work my way through………. We welcomed Agatha, Brenda and Cleo with great ceremony – I’m not saying it was a disaster because it wasn’t. What I’ve failed to mention thus far is that we live in a French ski resort at 1200m in altitude and the list of hen predators is long. We all know about Mr Fox, but we also appear to have some pretty mean buzzards. cold feetMy husband’s next mission was to think of a way that the girls could still roam free during the day enjoying the woodland behind our chalet, I hate anything in cages, but be safe from these flying predators. We now have lots of CD’s hanging in trees, and other obstacles to block swooping flight paths….. Any further suggestions will be considered – the chainmail vests have already been muted. I’d no idea what sociable creature’s hens are, they follow me around, and help with the gardening, given half a chance they’ll be in the house finishing off the cat food if they can get their beaks on it, Cleo even used to help me in the office on occasion!! Of course I’d considered Winter!!! The snow and freezing temperatures, after all as I’ve already mentioned we live in a ski resort!!!! Found them eventuallyMy husband gave me one of his looks as, in late Autumn he set about – moving the coop to the back the chalet under the eaves, as protection from the snow, making a new fence and gate, plus those added extra tweaks of installing a greenhouse heater under their nest box to keep them warm. The best of all, was his ingenious method of stopping their water from freezing. It involves amongst other things – a Quality Street tin, some duck tape, a light bulb and an extension cable. I’ll leave any further explanation to another day, I’m sure that he found the idea on one of those chicken forums on the internet, of which there are loads. Unfortunately this year we got caught out by the early snow, however the girls have adjusted very well to their snowy surroundings and the cold temperatures, helped by a bowl of hot porridge every morning and an extra duvet wrapped round the coop at night. P1060507I was right it’s lovely to have those fresh eggs every day and the gently clucking as they go about their daily chores even in the Winter – not exactly cost effective or on occasion good for a harmonious marriage, but we’re into our third year of hen husbandry and Eliza, Gertie and Hattie are all doing well.

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