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It was a very special moment yesterday when the Hen-der-lay sign was finally put in pride of place on the new custom-made penthouse coop.

The glorious sparkly Hen-der-lay sign in position atop the new coop!

We are especially proud of our girls’ new penthouse apartment. Made by a local craftsman after we decided buying the wood and Gary building a coop would be more expensive and, let’s face it, most probably end in divorce. Although, to give him his due, he did add the few ‘optional’ extras I insisted upon – a new lid on the nest boxes as I decided the original was too flimsy and not fox proof enough, a more hen friendly ladder and a grill over the ventilation holes just in case…

Fabulous, deluxe, penthouse coop. They love the long ladder!

We deliberated long and hard over the name. It is a play on the name Manderley (I just need a hen called Repekker) but we did consider many other names: Pecking ham Palace (too royal), Cluckingham Palace (ditto), Fowlty Towers (shamelessly copied from another chook friend) and many other plays on the words hen, chicken, egg and roost.

In my head, the glorious new deluxe coop was to be pink and white with a veranda, deck chairs, hanging baskets and gingham curtains at the window. Think Calamity Jane’s cabin after the make-over. However I am assured boring green woodstain is far more practical and curtains would attract mould and red mite. By way of compensation, the sign is yellow, with pink, silver and gold sparkly stars on and has a copy of the picture that reminds me of my first three, now departed, A girls. By having them on the coop, all my girls can sleep there snugly together.

Or not, as the case may be…

Hen-der-lay is built to house up to twelve chickens so the mathematicians out there may wonder why I only have my four B girls luxuriating in it, whilst the C and D girls have to rough it in the two low-level, common old normal coops. Well, simply because they refuse to play nicely together.

I appreciate there is to be some handbags at dawn fisticuffs when chickens establish their pecking order, it is quite normal. However, when the Amberlink C girls (Clara, Constance and CocoChanel) came to me, they were unable to walk, having spent two years in the wretched battery cage. Coco and Constance recovered quite quickly but darling Clara (her that likes being cuddled and sung to) took much longer to walk and was still being lifted in and out of the coop long after her sisters were skipping up and down the ramp. Thanks to the magic of arnica gel, her limp has improved over time but is still obvious. When the B girls met the C girls, my two B Amberlinks (Bertha and Brigit) took ‘agin’ Clara and terrorised her, jumping on her back and hurting her healing leg. Each time they have been introduced this has happened and Clara is now terrified of them.

Limpy girl Clara, how could you stand by and watch her being picked on?

My girls have spent enough time being frightened and abused, I won’t have them harmed in any way again. Consequently, they are kept apart.

So Plan B (or possibly Plan Z, I have lost track) is to merge the new D girls with the C girls first, establish a little flock of five and then merge them with Bella (top chicken who gets on with them all) and Bunty Goodchicken (never thrown a peck in anger) into the luxury of Hen-der-lay. This will leave bullies Brigit and Bertha in the small coop, to think about their actions for a week or so. Once they behave like ladies again, they can return to the, hopefully, harmonious flock.

We shall see. But in the meantime I shall carry on admiring my fab new coop and sign!

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