I touched my first chicken today. Well, my first live one anyway. I have of course been intimate with lots of bald dead ones, shoving boiled lemons up their nether regions, but I've never stroked one with a name before - she was a Warren called Zoe and was lovely and soft.
Thanks to Laura at (not so) Urban Hennery for taking the time out from her holiday packing to give me her thoughts. Also to Berthddu Suit from the other end of Powys and the blog Chickens, family and hayfever. And to Don from A View from the Green Barn. Also to our local non-web advisors, Suzanne from Upper Panteg, and Cyril and Anne up the hill who carried out a site visit. If anyone else wants to chip in at any point, feel free.
On Cyril and Anne's advice we've decided to fence in the chickens into a large corner of the field right outside the back rather than letting them roam all over the place. We're not expecting to keep the foxes away completely, but if they've got to run in the open across the field and right up to our houses then hopefully they will be a bit discouraged. Otherwise Cyril reckoned the foxes would lurk on the other side of the field in the undergrowth and pick the chickens off if they came close. Electric fences etc. may have to come later. I'm glad our predators are a bit tamer on this side of the Atlantic. We have foxes but thankfully no raccoons or coyotes, and although we do have owls and hawks, I think ours must be smaller than yours, Don. No one round here has mentioned them as a problem. I think our chickens will be bigger than our local owls.
Today we visited a hen house maker who lives just round the corner. He was very friendly and gave us lots of advice. And the hen houses were nice too. So we are buying one tomorrow (Sue - neighbour and chicken co-conspirator - moves fast once she gets going). We've decided to get quite a big one which could take 8-10, but we're starting with 6 chickens and no rooster. Rob needs his sleep. Of course Tom and I do too, but we have small children so don't get any.
Next job is to sort the fence out as currently it has stock wire round and not chicken wire. And we need to build a run to connect to the house as added security when we're out. Pictures will of course follow.