Diary of a novice chicken keeper - Week 3

Lesson 1 Learnt this week

Emotions and behaviour are inextricably linked.

As a nursery setting August is a sentimental month, where we wave farewell to little people who have been with us for sometimes as long as three years. As soon as we've come to terms with missing these familiar faces we greet another group of fantastic characters in September.

I am reminded, by the chickens in fact, that getting to know new surroundings can be daunting. Our feathered friends have been out during the day for a week now. Gingerly, they peck around outside their stable but rarely stray further than 10 or 20 metres from the stable door. I guess it's all about comfort zones, when they're confident they might start looking around a little more.

When our children either move on to school or move up a room within the nursery, I suppose we should be prepared for a little transition upheavel. By working with the children to establish boundaries, both tangible and intangible, we can hope that as they negotiate these little hurdles present in everyday life, they'll have the confidence and perseverance to tackle the challenge positively.

As for the chickens, they're negotiating the change in their lives fairly positively; although they seem to be slightly regressing by pooing where they previously laid eggs. Valerie tells me this is because they think the stable trough makes for a great perch, I on the other hand think it's some sort of poo protest due to the fact I've cut down on the posh chicken feed I was giving them and added some left over bird seed I found in our house.

Lesson 2 Learnt this week

For every job that must be done there is an element of fun.

So our eldest son was finding that the initial excitement of having chickens was wearing off. The burden of letting them out, cleaning them out, feeding them and collecting their eggs was beginning to take its toll. That was until his cousins came around to help. Suddenly it wasn't a chore, instead it was actually really good fun.

I only needed to become involved when I suggested chicken chasing wasn't half as much fun for the chickens as the children initially thought.

I'd liken today's chicken rearing exploits to the scene in Mary Poppins where they tidy the children's bedroom; a daunting task is turned into a fun experience.

In short, a problem shared is a problem halved!

Lesson 3 Learnt this week

How to spot a treasure egg.

So according to our eldest son, the whiter coloured eggs are the treasure eggs. In actuality I think some eggs are whiter because the hens aren't yet up to full fitness, but I didn't share this with him; a) because I wasn't sure and b) because treasure eggs sound much cooler. He insisted that we needed to keep them and not eat them. So we boiled them. Here are the treasure eggs!

Lesson 4 Learnt this week

To learn how to de-shell a hard boiled egg, please see photo.

Do you peel straightaway and toss the egg around to make the heat bearable or do you soak the eggs in cold water until the egg cools down, and then de-shell?

We were a household split over this procedure. Your thoughts and advice would be gratefully received.