Down in the chicken run, our three new hens have settled in well. As is now 'our' tradition, they have been named after Western Scottish Isles so three new hens should be named after the three islands off the coast of Skye: Eigg, Rhum and Muck. But any hen called 'Muck' would clearly have self esteem issues, so we choose 'Canna' as a better alternative.
And Eigg, Rhum and Canna have established themselves within the family. Those first turbulent days when our little bantam hen Iona took on the spirit of Billy Bremner and bullied the new, bigger hens have passed. And we now regularly collect four eggs a day with the occasional double-yolker in there as a surprise.
But it's not cheap this hen keeping malarkey with a bag of layers' pellets costing nearly nine quid and lasting less than a month. Add to that the de-wormer meds, grit and shell, anti-mite treatment, ground sanitising powder and it starts to look cheaper having a crack habit.
But crack wouldn't get you into your boiler suit with your scrubbing brushes, gloves, bucket and dilute Jeyes Fluid to hand on a Sunday afternoon cleaning out the hen house. It's gotta be done at the end of the summer.
Our deluxe hen house has bottom boards that slide out for easy cleaning. But this one doesn't slide out. It's stuck fast and I can shift it, no matter how hard I pull. Hang on, I'll climb inside and push, - well, kick - it with my feet until it moves. It's moving at last. It's coming. Hang on. This obstinate board is right behind the run door and if I kick it out too far I'll be trapped. I won't be able to open the run door.
Oh, I have kicked it too far and I AM trapped. There's no way out. Neither is there a wife around.