Effie’s Garden ‘Jo Barlow, from Cornwall, writes about her ex-battery hens’
PUBLISHED: 14:51 03 November 2015 | UPDATED: 14:51 03 November 2015
Jo had plans to reclaim some of her garden for the humans … but it was not to be
You know that feeling when you meet a first-time glowingly expectant couple, assuring you the baby won’t change things, and we weary, battle-scarred parents, smile and nod knowingly? Well, looking back to my early ex-bat years, I was part of that very same smug couple, thinking that we would have a Human’s Garden when we had hens. Foolish human.
The garden was initially divided into a two-thirds hen garden and one-third human garden – a fair division I am sure you will agree. However, within hours, Effie had managed to get Gary to cut a small hole in the newly-built fence to allow her and Miss Basket exclusive access to the so-called Human Garden and thus Effie’s Garden was born. Effie and Miss Basket lived happily there and then, when Miss Basket passed away, the bantam chicks took up residence with Mummy Effie.
So, with the sad passing of darling Eff and the amazingly easy integration of the bantams into the Big Girls’ flock, we planned to reclaim Effie’s Garden so we humans could enjoy some poo-free time al fresco. We could unfence the veg beds so we could pick our spinach without having to perform a Fosbury Flop over the hen-proof fence, perhaps even have a sun lounger or two ….
An email interrupted my garden design plans. ‘Oh Jo, there is this tiny hen who is being picked on, she is in a desperate state, do you know of anyone who can have her?’ They know me too well: ‘Can’t Say No Jo’ they call me. Off I trundle to receive said hen and, when I arrive, spookily there is a second hen in a similar state. So suddenly there are two new little hens in Effie’s Garden, enjoying a life of peace and happiness and plotting how to get over the fence to the tasty spinach leaves.
And, if I am honest, it isn’t the same without hens pootling about by the house or pecking on the patio doors. Who cares if I have to forever wear crocs in the garden and can never experience a floaty summer’s afternoon, wandering barefoot, Pimms in hand.
The two new babies will eventually be integrated into the Big Girls’ flock but I know the garden will quickly be filled by more special girls needing extra love. So, the small garden will forever be known as Effie’s Garden. Initially the home of my beloved girl, it now continues to serve the purpose Effie always had planned for it. Caring for very special hens.