Prickly Chickly

I posted last week about Esme’s sudden loss of feathers and over the week the reason it happened so quickly has become clear – the new ones were just below the surface ready to burst forth! She has been reluctant to be handled during her moult, but I managed to catch her yesterday afternoon and hold her whilst Mr Snail of happiness took a few photographs.

New neck feathers

New neck feathers

The new feathers are very prickly at the moment, resembling porcupine quills, but are coming through in great abundance. It’s interesting to see the colour contrast too – her old feathers are quite brown and faded, but the new ones are beautiful black and white. She is still losing some of her old ones, though not at the same rate as last week. It is possible that she will have a complete new set within the next few weeks.

Back and tail area

Back and tail area

One she’s finished growing her new feathers it will be interesting to see how long it takes for her to start laying again. In the past she has always laid over the winter, but as she ages (she’s nearly four years old now) we expect her laying to decline. The two youngsters, Aliss and Perdy*, are less than two years old and are still laying every day or two. Lorna, the same age as Esme, as only ever laid intermittently, but we keep her because she does other jobs in the garden and is our top slug-hunter!

New wings

New wings

One of the joys of keeping backyard hens is to see these natural cycles taking place. We do not provide our girls with extra light or heat during the winter, so their bodies follow the seasons. This means that we are bound to get fewer eggs in the winter, but we don’t mind that, as eating seasonally is an important aspect of understanding the food on our plates.

-oOo-

* In case you’re wondering, Esme, Perdy and Aliss are named after some of Terry Pratchett’s witches – we used to have a Gytha too.

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15 Comments

  1. I must have missed out. I don’t remember a Perdy. I’m glad to hear Esme’s doing fine.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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  2. Lovely! One day I will have a small flock of my own, meanwhile I’m enjoying learning about chicken-keeping from your lovely writing.

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    • Thank you so much. I hope you are enjoying your adventure. Have you settled into your new home now? Looking forward to you blogging about it when you find the time.

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      • Thank you. I’m starting to find my feet here. I did find the local organic produce market this morning and spent way too much money. It was nice to finally not have plastic bags foisted on me (even when I tell them no, I have my own, they insist).

        Hopefully I’ll get time to keep the blog going. Thanks for checking in!

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  3. Oh I am enjoying my “vicarious” hen keeping. 🙂

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  4. Hello. I’m a Belmont Rooster Liebster nominee, like you, and I’m working my way through his list to see what exalted company I’m in! I’m enjoying your blog, and am going to start Following you. A lot of what you’re writing about is very familiar – I miss my Girls now that I’ve relocated to the tropics of Australia and share a very small house and virtually no garden with my new husband. Kate

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  5. Yay! Hen keepers AND Terry Pratchett fans – what more could I ask for! Lol
    Seriously, when we kept hens, many moons ago, I wanted to name them after the witches, too, especially Esme, my favourite of all the witches (although I love them all, of course) but hubby wasn’t having it, at the time 😦
    I did get to name a sheep after my favourite witch later on, though and, while not a goat, I think Granny Weatherwax would approve 🙂

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  1. November round-up | The Snail of Happiness
  2. Esme lays an egg | The Snail of Happiness

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