Feathered Friends: A Spring Update

Katharine Pooley with her chickens at home

Caring for chickens has been a timeless tradition and integral part of rural life for centuries. Amongst the rolling hills and picturesque landscapes of the English countryside, the rustic charm of a few hens provides fresh eggs and for me, a profound abundance of wholesome companionship.

I have spoken about my love of my chickens before and I know many of you share my love for animals and find solace in their presence too.

My hens are tended to every day at dawn and dusk and eagerly await their mealworms and sweetcorn. Usually, a gorgeous local cat known to us as ‘Meow’ or ‘Tabitha’ found us and loves to live cooped up with the chickens, napping amongst the eggs in the warm hay.

The funny thing about chickens is also that they practically die of boredom, they need to be stimulated. My Silver Laced Polish hens are especially curious and inquisitive. Tucked behind their flamboyant crests are bright, intelligent eyes. Their playful antics and social nature sees them gently clucking as they make their way towards myself and my family, looking for cuddles and spirited displays of affection.

My Sussex’s are slightly different, they are more mild-mannered and calm. Though friendly and affectionate, they are low-maintenance and reserved in their emotions. Inside or out the coop – they don’t mind. They will allow strangers to get in close proximity to them, being utmost trusting and completely unnerved. They also lay eggs like clockwork, making them ideal companions for a family home.

Being in the industry I am, and loving animals like I do, of course the Hen’s needed a gorgeous space to call home. Fittingly, my Chicken Coop is American designed – it looks like a beautiful old school barn with its slated roof and little chimney. They have an encroached outdoor space for safety from rats and foxes at night. A concrete floor allows for an easy daily tidy and clean freshwater is an absolute must. Natural, durable materials like wood and metal are the best materials. The indoor section of the coop has a spacious layout with separate nesting boxes, roosting perches, and ample ventilation to promote good airflow.

As both the chickens and ducks are free range, they frequently put dried mud and dust onto their feathers to keep away mites and nasties that may be lurking around. They really are quite smart. Last year, I gave them a special treat and installed a pond which the ducks obviously love. They sit in the sun and relax. Being runner ducks I assume their legs are tired and so it must be a dream being able to take the pressure off their feet.

I spent my Easter relaxing in the garden and grazing with my family which was an absolute dream. We had an egg hunt even though the boys are 12 and 14 now! It was my husband and my youngest son’s birthday during the week so we spent the time off together going on walks, eating eggs (all the kinds) and having lazy picnics in the blessed weather we had.

My quick recipe for our families favourite, ‘Pooley’s Eggs,’ below.

Pooley’s Eggs

A handful of onions and bacon
A pinch of sweet corn
Some freshly chopped coriander leaves
Half a diced avocado
Chilli flakes to your liking

Fry the onions and bacon until slightly browned
Sprinkle each ingredient over some soft poached eggs on sourdough toast

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