I think I have my biggest ever flock – possibly swarm – of chickens ever at the moment. I have four cou-nus, three white chickens, two brown chickens, one black chicken (Anastasia), one Limousin chicken and one Sussex (Cynthia). That’s a dozen. Only three are layers, possibly there’s a fourth producing the occasional egg, but I’m regularly getting two eggs a day, which is more than enough for us.

mud bath chickens grass

As well as the hens, I have the five big delicious looking turkeys and one younger one who thinks he’s a cou-nu as he hangs about with them and, as a result, is much better behaved with the other turkeys who wander off into next door’s fields at every opportunity.

turkeys1 close up

I couldn’t be without chickens. It’s brilliant having them pottering around the farm – slightly less so when they come for a look around inside the house. (They’re very nosey.) They add a splash of colour and interest to the scenery. As well as supplying us with eggs or a tasty roast, they clear up scraps, gobble up parasites like ticks and intestinal worm larvae in the grass that could make our ruminants poorly, and help keep the snake population down. Here they are cleaning out the empty pig food bin, removing all those little bits of grit and grot that accumulate at the bottom, before it’s refilled.

chickens bin

They’re currently digging a hole in the lawn to make a super-sized dust bath, and which is not quite so good, but to be fair, they’re only exploiting the site of an earlier mole hill so they didn’t start the damage. We’ll fill it in when it gets too deep.

mud bath chickens craters

I’d be fascinated to find out how far my chickens walk in a day. They must cover kilometres. One moment they’re outside the house, the next they’re across one of the fields, then down by the lakes. But wherever they are, they come charging, velociraptor style, at my cry of “Chook chook” and a rattle of the grain bucket. But whilst you can get all sorts of outfits for chickens (seriously, check this site) I haven’t found a chicken pedometer. Perhaps I’ll have to get one of the scientists in the family to make me one…