Hens and hellebores

The snow has gone and the hens are out and about again.  Here is one of the cockerels at the base of the side garden wall.  Somewhere along the foot of the wall snowdrops are just beginning to show.  I shall not be impressed if they are scratched up but mostly at this time of year the hens are good garden companions and will probably not bother with any good sized clump.  It will be another couple of months before we start the frantic seed sowing which means that every bed needs to be protected until the plants get to a decent size.

Here is the little white Wyandotte, still my favourite hen even though she is not as good a layer as the others.  She is so small and fluffy and looks like a chicken from a children's book.  Because she is a bit smaller than the others she has to run to keep up with them and is often to be found flurrying down the garden , a few yards adrift of the flock, trying hard not be left behind.
But I do also love the brown hens which look just as hens should.  The Welsummer on the left lays beautiful dark brown eggs.  The gingery brown hen on the right is a cross between a Welsummer and a Buff Orpington.  The cross means that she should be a great broody hen so in the spring, assuming she does go broody, we are going to let her raise some chicks.  The whole miraculous business of eggs becoming tiny chickens in twenty one days, all cheep and yellow fluff, is something which everyone should see at least once in a lifetime and at just coming up to four years old older grandson will bounce around with excitment (so will I).

Spring must be out there over the horizon somewhere.  Shutting up the hens has  moved from about quarter past four to nearer five o' clock and the hellebores have just started to bloom.  For some reason the cat was so determined to be in the photograph that I had to give up on this, my sixth attempt, to record the only one which is properly in flower.

And the Arum Italicum which I bought as a tiny plant on last year's visit to Great Dixter is unfurling its beautiful marbled leaves.
Spring is out there somewhere.


  1. So you have a replica of Omerod after all! I love it when the chickens get all busy as spring comes - hope you get some chicks. How is the peacock?

  2. Peacock is thriving thanks and so happy the snow has gone.

  3. I've noticed the longer afternoons - the mornings seem as dark as ever though. (I expect here is a reason for that.)

    You inspired me with Hellebores last year - this year I'm determined to actually get round to finding a home for some.

  4. I haven't checked on the hellebores yet (you've reminded me), but I did find a couple of clumps of the early snowdrops. One clump was out at Christmas but disappeared again when the snows came.

    I love your chickens, they are such homely, peaceable creatures most of the time.

  5. I love the little white hen. She is just so cute! Oh how I want chickens.

    Spring is springing!

  6. Very handsome rooster Elizabeth, what breed would he be? I have a Wellsummer rooster and he is a particularly goodlooking chap. I don't think you can live in the country and not have chooks and a rooster. Even in the wee small hours of the morning, I love hearing him crow. Nice to watch them and how industrious they can be as long as it's not in the vegie garden!

  7. Thanks for the look at what's' to come here, but I have to wait. I think I'll look for my snowdrops-tomorrow, when it is light. I don't have a lot of hope that they will be up yet, but the looking will be good.

  8. Another lovely blog - but I'm wondering whether the cockerel knocked a bottle of bleach over with his tail. Never seen a white- tailed cockerel before but I suppose there must be a sea-eagle gene in some dark recess somewhere.

    Quite agree about the miracle of hatching chicks. We had a little incubator in which we hatched all sorts of things but its best if mother disappears into the undergrowth and re-emerges three weeks later with brood in tow. Do watch that cat, though.

  9. Lucky lady! Got an Italian arum. I do covet those leaves!

  10. Love that Italian arum's leaves.

  11. I do love your hens! And your hellebores - I never have much luck with those, they usually die on me.

    Yes, our snow has gone too, thank goodness, and we can see the ground again. There are definite signs of spring around, too!

  12. I love the idea of the little white hen running to keep up with the other girls!

  13. I love reading you blog, and today's post was really special. You know, I had never heard of Welsummer chickens.... and yet I was born and raised just 2 miles from the very small village of Welsum (Netherlands)(where the chickens originate). Isn't that a coïncidence?

    Your Helleborus looks good. Mine are not yet flowering, but the buds are showing. Spring is definitely on its way!

  14. It's been so wintry recently, if it weren't for my camera, I wouldn't have noticed spring has started. There's quite a lot on the move.


  15. sbs - yes indeed, son of Ormerod. just as good looking but not so much character.
    mountainear - you are right about the mornings, weird. don't know why that is.
    Friko - I am a big fan of the chickens. They should be recommended as a tonic.
    Michelle - go for chickens! you don't need a lot of space and they don't take an awful lot of looking after.

    Claire - the cockerel is a Frisian bantam, quite large for a bantam but nothing like a Welsummer cockerel. They are superb, story book cockerels!
    Dimple - I look for quite a few weeks before anything comes up and the snowdrops have only just started. They need another couple of weeks to be properly in flower.
    Fennie - I have suggested to the cockerel that he has some sea eagle in him and he is chuffed as a dozen monkeys. He may get above himself now.
    Elephant's Eye - they are particularly beautiful Arum leaves aren't they? The plant is still quite small but one day I hope to have great meaty clumps of them. Love them.
    Gilly - the thing with hellebores is to buy orientalis hybrids (not niger, lovely as they are, they are trickier) and to give them so blood, fish and bone when they are flowering, in about a couple of weeks. Other than that, easy!
    Chris - do you remember the take off of Enid Blyton with Titch running along behind? that's her.
    Ellie - I love the idea that you come from Welsum! That is just perfect. it is a lovely name and a lovely chicken too.
    Lucy - you are so right. I love my camera for making me look properly. I try to anyway but the camera is a real help.

  16. If you can believe it, I found wee nibs of Star of David, hosta lilies, crocus, and daffodils in my garden when I was out the other day peering around! (And this, on Long Island, with temps still in the teens!)


    Your chickens are adorable, and I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments regarding baby chicks.

  17. Lovely chickens, I agree, and a chicken running at full pelt is a sight to lift the spirits. But before anyone heeds the siren's cry of 'Go Get Some Chickens!", can I just remind you of Mountainear's terrifying posts about mites last year?

    The Wet Blanket

  18. Lovely hens - I'll have to look for a fluffy white one too. I have white-hen envy...how sad is that?
    Over here the Hellebores are blooming madly and the primula are all up (the ones not slug-eaten). I do miss my big Muscovies - they were so good at keeping the slugs down.

  19. Lovely post. I know Spring is on its way because I feel all nice and cosy in my coat and scarf when I set off for my half hour to work, and then all hot and sticky when I get there. I know that's not a very nice description of Spring's effects, unlike your blog, but I'm not good at nature!

  20. Hello Elizabeth, city person also wants to tell you how much she enjoyed reading this post and seeing the photos.

    And. Feeling that I might be in friendly company, I also wanted to say that I never before really knew that it was three weeks, 21 days from egg to fluffy chick. I don't think that before reading this I had any idea how long the process took.

    Thank you so much for this education about chicken, egg and chick. Also thank you for the beautiful flowers.

    I really do like this time of the year. xo

  21. If you say 'Arum Italicum" over and over, it sounds really good.

  22. It's not fair. My hellebores are still shaking the snow off themselves and haven't even got a bud yet.

  23. It looks absolutely beautiful where you live. Really idyllic.

    I'm afraid I am the least green fingered person on the whole planet - I've managed to kill at least five spider plants in my lifetime, and I'm told they're immortal!

    Perhaps by reading your blog I can become more plant friendly by osmosis. Would love to plant some herbs...

  24. The last week has seen definite signs of growth here especially with the snowdrops. So exciting. Wyandotte looks like a glorious ball of white flufiness. What breed is she Elizabeth?

  25. When I opened this blog, I wasnt sure who's blog I was reading..but a couple of sentences in I knew exactly!!!!Your personality shines through your writing, Em.

  26. Elizabeth, I may not always leave a comment but I come here regularly. Not being a gardener nor a rural person by any stretch, I simply enjoy what I see and leave feeling refreshed.
    What I want to know is, does the cat ever chase the chickens??

  27. Lovely photographs - the little hen is so cute! Sadly we have foxes in the garden next door... otherwise I so would!

  28. Marcheline - you sound much further on than we are, no sign of hostas here.
    rachel - I live in fear of red mites!
    Pondside - i would love ducks but we have no water so will have to content ourselves with hens. The Wyandotte is lovely isn't she?
    Fran - now that was true at the end of last week but it is freezing again tonight. i knew I was getting ahead of myself.

    Frances - well I didn't know how long eggs took to hatch until we came here! just one of the many pieces of new knowledge.
    Arabella - the name is as good as the plant.

  29. SS - wonder where you are. We are highish and northish so I am not used to being ahead in the sprouting/flowering game.
    Gappy - it is very beautiful. You really should have a go at some herbs. It is great to grow your own. All you need is some sun and a not too rich soil. Email me if you want me to share my not so great wisdom with you!
    Anna - it is ambiguous isn't it. The little white hen is a bantam white Wyandotte. They come in all sorts of markings including the fabulously named silver pencilled!
    Grouse - oh hello!!! how great to see you here. Hope things are ok with you.xx
    Deborah - I love your blog too. Sometimes it is the contrast between our own life and someone else's which is so interesting, particularly if they seem like a kindred spirit in other ways.
    Liz - foxes are the bane of the chicken keeper's life but oddly enough our losses are down to a dog and a stoat. Nature red etc..


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