We took delivery of a hen house on Saturday and some hens yesterday. Not an obvious time of year to start keeping hens, because we'll feed them all winter and as the nights draw in they won't lay so many eggs.
We went to a genuine farm dispersal sale last weekend. It was a fascinating event on so many levels. A reclusive old local farmer had lived on this 90 acre farm in the middle of nowhere all his life and now he has moved to a care home. I can only imagine that he held this fate at bay as long as possible, but seeing the state of the farmhouse I guess another winter was out of the question despite the amazing efforts of Staffordshire Moorlands visiting carers.
Many that turned up to the farm sale did so out of respect for this farmer, as much as to seize a bargain in these tough times. I overheard farmers and labourers with local accents so strong it could be called a dialect. There were a few other women, some children allowed to lark about on the haystack and farm machinery, but this event was noticeably dominated by local farmers; all white, predominantly male. They are a hardy close-knit local bunch, many of whom have been on their farms for generations. As a southern 'incomer' I felt priveleged to have been there, as I would if I'd been camel herding with the Bedouins or driving llamas up a mountain in Tibet.
So I was pleased that we scooped the coop for a reasonable sum. A local farmer brought it back for us in his trailer and then dropped off a couple of pullets for us yesterday. The coop is in the orchard in front of Barks, so visiting children will be able to collect eggs and catch hens. My 5 year old son is delighted by it all.
So to the business of marketing Barks self-catering holiday cottage now that we have welcomed our two chickens, and thinking up legitimate new straplines that might grab the search engines' attention:
Farm stays - self catering
Alton towers - dogs welcome - feed the hens
Stay on a farm with 2 chickens, 10 sheep, 3 dogs and some fruit trees.
I'll keep working on this . . .