OK, so we’re not quite there – we still have a fortnightly supermarket delivery – but with daily fresh eggs from our (rather naughty) hens Isla White and Princess Layer, plus a glut of rhubarb and leeks from the allotment this week, I’m feeling semi-self-sufficient! Some advice for first time chicken owners: White Leghorns are great layers of pretty, white eggs but they are also nervous and essentially bonkers. Speckeldy hens (Coucou Marans) are good layers, too (of brown, speckled eggs) and are friendly, curious and clever. When you first bring your hens home, they will be so freaked out and traumatised by the journey that they will sulk in their nesting box for days. Don’t worry. Just make sure they have access to food and water and they will soon forget the drama and grow braver. Mine were petrified of humans for the first few days but were pecking food from my hand and letting me stroke them within a week. Bribe them with food every time you visit them – a handful of rice, an earthworm (!) or a cabbage leaf and a soothing ‘tut tut’ noise will soon put them at ease. I kept them in their coop for a week so they got the idea that it was their ‘home’, then let them roam free. If you’re going to let them free-range, be prepared to lose some plants. My alliums are basically gone. And get ready to pick up / hose away poo every now and again from your patio. (By every now and again I mean, like, every day.) Apart from that, they’re amazingly low-maintenance. They peck about, eating slugs and bugs – and when it gets dark, they sensibly put themselves to bed, so all I need to do is lock the door behind them in the evening.
I am a freelance interiors journalist, working for a range of UK magazines. Click here to view my portfolio of published work.
Click here to order my new book: Chic Boutiquers At Home, published by Ryland Peters and Small, October 2015.
Click here to order my last book: Design Bloggers At Home, published by Ryland Peters and Small, May 2014.
You can SEE A PREVIEW of one of the homes featured in the book on The Guardian website, there was a lovely feature about it in The New York Times, and it's been featured in many other titles, including You (The Daily Mail), Stella (Sunday Telegraph), Elle Decoration, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes & Antiques, Grazia, Marie Claire, Mollie Makes, Good Homes, Redbook (USA), Country Living (USA), Red - Hearst Home (Italy) and Psychologies.
See our London home in Homes & Antiques.
See our Cotswold wedding in Elle Marriage (Japan), Mollie Makes magazine and on the Liberty blog.
See inside my drawers (not in that way) via Good Homes magazine.
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