I write this update with somewhat mixed emotions.
We had been down to one chicken since the end of last summer when one of our last birds was diagnosed with having mites. Sadly, and obviously, she didn't make it and with the whole chicken run to herself our final bird went off the lay. That is not why I am a touch sad though, that part comes later.
And so for a number of weeks I spoke about us acquiring a few more birds, and with winter approaching I wanted them not only for eggs but also for warmth for our current lone girl. I was aware that a change in EU legislation regarding keeping battery hens was coming into force, but I didn't really know much about it. But then just a few weeks before Christmas I got an email from the Battery Hens Welfare Trust saying something like "you've had chooks from us before, and due to the change of legislation we have a load of birds becoming available - would you consider taking on a few more?" And of course I jumped at the chance, it was just what we were after!
And so we drove (the Benz scraped/ploughed) our way across the B roads of Britain to Bishops Stortford to grab our three new birds. They settled in pretty quick, and have been on the lay since day 1! With the coop now being cleaned out regularly with this anti-mite stuff I am hopeful they will be our longest surviving birds yet! They only thing is that with three new scrawny birds (though they are much healthier than the three we got a few years back) it makes our 'resident' bird look exceptionally fit and healthy ... and plump and tasty! ;o)
Here the all are!
They get quite regular free time around the garden now too as Harry proved my earlier suspicions that he would be fine with chickens, if maybe a little excitable at times. Though seeing a dog trying to sniff a chickens arse is a bizarre sight!
That period between Christmas and New Year can often be a bit 'nothing'. Not really festive, but nothing really to do. This year seemed really different though, and on December 28th we made a visit to the Koi centre which is just up the road from us. We go there fairly often, previously when Neo (my Leopard Gecko) was alive for his food, and now just to show Alfie all the cool fish and reptiles. There must be something about the inter Xmas/New Year period that leads me to have a desire to make rather impulsive reptilian purchases. I acquired Neo at that time back around 1999, and on this day we walked out with a Anerythristic Corn Snake. Alfie loved he, he actually chose it, and they are great pets for kids - and I really fancied a snake. We had the viv, heating, hides etc ready to go and so went home to get it set up before collecting him that evening.
I then did a load of research and learnt how to let them settle, and most importantly that they are proper escape artists! They can even flatter their heads which means they can get through gaps just a few mm big - and with ours being just 6 months old he's pretty small! The viv is an old fish tank and so I made the lid temporarily escape proof before making a new lid. I did this on Saturday (Jan 7th), but clearly there must have been a tiny gap somewhere as the bugger had packed his bags and gone to see the wider world by Monday morning! I'm pretty gutted about it, and I'm preying he makes an appearance soon. There are many tales of Corns disappearing for days/weeks/months on end so I am trying to keep positive that he'll reappear somewhere. In the meantime there are water dishes everywhere, his viv is on the floor, his hide is on the floor with the heat mat under it, and there are many bottle traps been set. The bottle traps have a furry in each one and as he is due to be fed today I hope he'll come out in the search for food soon!
And so if you happen to visit FTC please keep your eyes out for a snake who looks something like this chap.