All our previous hens have been saved from a one-way trip to the pie factory, after a short life time of battery egg production. When we collected them they were almost devoid of feathers and bewildered.
After a few weeks of good food, and a gentle introduction to the freedom of the Owl Wood, they would feather up and their individual characters would begin to develop.
The only trouble was, they were all brown, so although we have always named them, identification of individuals was sometimes a little tricky. We always grew fond of them and I like to think that they enjoyed their time with us.
Last year, when we had just one remaining brown hen, we decided to indulge ourselves and have a mix of hens who would be easy for us, and the grandchildren, to identify.
This is Susie, the largest hen, very friendly - always gets under our feet in her eagerness to be around us.
This beauty is Frankie, a quiet and friendly hen. She is incredibly beautiful.
The cheeky girl is Leonie, her golden 'mane' is quite something.
This is Shaggy (named by Hector, when he was going through a phase of enjoying Scooby Doo). She is the smallest one and always the first one to go to bed, sometimes and hour or two ahead of the others.
This is Queen Mab a speckledy. Bossy as can be - and always ready to peck a finger or chase the dog. The two cats are very careful to give her a wide berth.
...and finally, here is Dreamy Dusty. Always the last one to come running for treats and the first one to wander off. I'm rather fond of her.
They have been very productive, apart from a brief spell in the summer when we almost had to resort to buying eggs from the market. Most days we get five eggs, sometimes six.
They do lead a wonderful life in the little woodland, freedom to roam, good food, plenty of insects, and a daily treat of a small amount of finely grated cheddar cheese. They are all cheese-monsters, even Dreamy Dusty comes running for cheese. They also have a daily bunch of spinach, which they nibble at through the day. It worked for the ex battery hens and it also suits these girls.