A New Home for Christmas – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

For those that have been following my posts, you’ll know that I was adopting some rescue hens last weekend. I collected them on Sunday afternoon, and they were in a terrible state! The British Hen Welfare Trust volunteers who had collected the flock for rehoming said that they were in the worst condition that they’d ever seen. It was heartbreaking, seeing featherless hen after featherless hen shivering and terrified, not to mention the hens that were being cradled in the arms the volunteers, wrapped in blankets trying to get them warm enough to function. I’m just shocked that this horrific animal treatment is actually “legal”, and that humans are responsible for this.

I bundled my 4 into 2 cat boxes and took them home to the garden. I decided to put them in the greenhouse, where they could have a little bit of space to peck around and scratch in the soil, but where they would be sheltered from the cold wind. It didn’t take long to see that 2 were thriving and 2 were not. I carried them into their hen house at night, and added extra straw and blankets to try and keep them warm. The next morning, 3 of them were doing ok, and one of them was really not doing well at all, she could hardly move. I felt awful. I brought her inside, wrapped her up in wool blankets and lay her on top of a warm hot water bottle. I was sure she would die, but she has been hanging in there. Now she is standing, and occasionally will move about, but she’s still not eating or drinking so I don’t know if she’ll survive or not.

Meanwhile, the other 3 seemed happy enough in the greenhouse. I just move them to the hen house at night. I noticed one of them wasn’t very active yesterday afternoon, so I wrapped her in a blanket before putting her in the hen house for the night. Sadly she died overnight. I’m really annoyed with myself as I very nearly decided to bring her inside as well, but her temperature felt ok to me and I thought she would be ok snuggled up with the others.

Happily, the 2 thrivers are still thriving (the one pictured is really feisty!!) and have eaten enormous amounts today! I’m really glad to see that, and I think they’re going to be ok hanging out in the greenhouse for a while until their feathers come back. Fingers crossed for my poorly girl in the sitting room though – I’ve given her a few pep talks and I’m hoping that she will fight to survive so that she can soon enjoy a free range life.