A guest post by Celia Lewis, author of Illustrated Guide to Chickens:
Chickens always seem to have been around in my life. My grandmother kept them along with geese (Hilary, the gander, terrorised small children with bare legs) and my mother kept Rhode Island Reds. I have kept hens on and off for the last thirty years, the ‘off’ being after a visit from a fox.
At the moment I keep silver-laced Wyandottes and Welsummers. I also had Anconas but these are flighty birds to say the least. They are beautiful black birds with white mottling that lay pure white eggs – however they prefer to roost up trees and there being some holly bushes in my run, this was were they went. As winter approached I felt they would do better if trained to live in the house with the others – the way to achieve this is to catch them up at night when hens are usually docile and put them in the house, when you’ve done this once or twice they generally get the message. However these two were not in the least docile and flew straight over the 8 foot fencing out of the run – impossible to find in the dark, sadly all that was left in the morning was a pile of feathers.
The Wyandottes are gorgeous birds, calm and beautiful though do tend to spend a lot of the year broody – fine if you want to hatch chicks, but if you have more than one cock then you must separate them and wait at least four weeks until you can be sure the eggs have been fertilised by the right bird.
All these birds feature in my book The Illustrated Guide to Chickens and are just some of the 200 or so watercolour paintings. What to do with them all? My answer is to hold an exhibition and with two friends that is what I am doing. STRICTLY FOR THE BIRDS is being held in Haslemere Museum, Surrey from 8th – 22nd May 2010 and features not only my paintings but unusual hand-carved birds and fish by renowned wood carver Judith Nicoll and the unique and affordable jewellery of Catriona Godson.
Celia Lewis, www.celialewis.co.uk