Sunday, 4 November 2007

Not what I'd hoped.

So, yesterday my friend S and I went chicken shopping. I had expected to be reporting today that I had decided on my 3 hens and had put in an order. Things didn't quite go according to plan.

I drove from my home in Berkshire to S's home in Oxfordshire (just under an hour) and then on to Ludlow (a further 2.5 hours). A slight diversion to visit the wonderful Ludlow Food Centre meant that we got to Wernlas at about 10.45.

The chickens at Ludlow were moulting, and so my poor Naked Necks looked really scruffy. S was definitely NOT impressed and, although her reaction in itself doesn't influence my choice of Hen, it reinforced for me the reaction that most people are likely to have upon meeting the breed.

I needed some advice about the characteristics of the breed. I'd heard and read that they are easy to tame, and very friendly birds. Unfortunately, the owners of Wernlas had just gone on holiday so I wasn't able to get the information that I needed. The lady who was looking after the place was very helpful, but the advice she gave me (with the best of intentions) when I asked about Naked Neck suitablility for beginners was..... well, it was more general advice and didn't cover suitability of any particular breed.

Still, it was good to see (and recognise) so many breeds. S was really impressed with my my knowledge - I could name every breed and colour - and then she realised that the breed and colour was labelled on each coop. In my defence though, I wasn't always reading the label, and I didn't realise that she wasn't aware the label was there.

As soon as I saw the Buff Sussex, I knew that my decision on my number 1 bird was correct.

So, from here, we decided to try and find Gould Poultry in Pinvin. I didn't have an address, only a phone number, and I only got the answerphone when I called. My fault, as I hadn't thought to phone in advance. Still, we set off in the direction of Pinvin and called again when we reached the town. Regrettably it turned out the place was closed for the day, but it was en route to our third place, so no problem. And thanks to Mrs Gould for phoning me back, by the way, I will be making a trip over there in the next couple of weeks.

Undeterred, we set of for our third destination, which was the Rare Breeds Trust at Honeybourne near Evesham.

Another fasacinating place, lots of the same breeds as at Wernlas, but also some hybrids. I saw some Bluebelles, which was the hybrid I was thinking of buying, but they didn't look at all how I remembered them from their pics. They were good looking birds though. We also met lots of geese, and ducks, and turkeys... and some very pretty Light Sussex Bantams, who were much prettier than their full size equivalents.

I'm really stuck.
  • I wanted to get all my chooks from one place, but I don't think there will be one place which has all three "breeds".
  • The Buff Sussex is relatively easy to obtain from a number of places, certainly from ALL the places i'm likely to buy from
  • If I want a Naked Neck then I'll need to get it from Ludlow, but they don't supply hybrids (if I want a hybrid as my 3rd bird).
  • Choosing a suitable breed isn't as easy as you may think. If I go through the process of choosing an alternative then I know I'll end up wanting the alternative AS WELL as the others, and then I'll have to decide which one to unpick.
  • Availability may also be a problem - especially as I really need to put the hens in together on the same day. And if I'm not getting them all from the same place, am I really going to be able to get them all at the same time?

And to explain why it all matters....

This is likely to be the one and only time I buy specific hens. I'm expecting that future hens will be ex-battery girls, so there won't be the chance for "Oh, I'll get a Gold Laced Wyandotte (or whatever) this time".


The lady from Pinvin left a message on my answerphone this morning. She sounded really friendly, and so I'd really like to go and see her. And I'll go and see my local breed place as well. I hadn't gone to him before as he doesn't supply Naked Necks. And I'll phone Ludlow when they are back from holiday to talk to them about Naked Necks.

In the meantime, I'll try and decide whether or not I want a Bluebelle. And what I'd get if I didn't.

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