Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Once a hen-witch, always . . .

Thank you for all your good wishes for Ruby. After another day on a yogurt and porridge-oat diet, Ruby has returned to the flock. The first thing she did was ignore the corn tea-time treats and gallop off around the corner like a velociraptor hunting down Sam Neill. Within seconds she emerged from behind a bush with a rather stiff mouse!!!! HOW DID SHE KNOW :-O After a tug-o-war session with me, I won and disposed of the rodent's body discreetly. Ruby then rummaged around in the garden borders for all sorts of muddy tasty bits and bobs! She's happy to be back with her fellow under-gardeners and within pecking distance of the Spice Girls.

Her crop still feels a bit squashy, but we’ll see how it goes – there's a definite improvement and her breath smells, er well, sort of like a hen. She’s a good actress and would never let on unless she’s feeling really really really sickly!!! Thank you Wendy for the advice about the anti-fungal stuff she needs if the yogurt diet doesn’t work. I loved Woodland Fay's comment referring to Wendy and me as ‘hen-witches’ LOL!!! I told a friend who who writes a 'Chicken Chat' column for her village's monthly magazine, and suggested she qualified as a hen-witch too. Apparently the villagers refer to her as the 'mad chicken woman at the bottom of the hill', so 'Hen-witch' was a good alternative.

At the weekend my Mum gave me some black and white photos of me a long time ago. Mmmmmm . . . once a hen-witch, always a hen-witch ;-)


  1. Perhaps her appetite for dead, stiff mice might be the reason for her recent upset (lol). Not that it seems to have had any effect on her eating habits!

  2. So glad Ruby is improving. Our neighbours recently lost a girl to sour crop...very sad. Her little recovery antics gave me a giggle...I always comment on their similarities to velociraptors and I have seen one of my girls catch and flick a LIVE mouse by the tail and straight down her throat! Such characters!

  3. she is a dominant personality, isn't she? when my father was a boy, he had a pet white-faced black spanish rooster who would sit on his wooded swing with him.

  4. I think being a hen witch sounds great! Glad Ruby is on the mend.

  5. Glad she's so much improved. Animals can be a worry can't they?

    I like the sound of hen-witch. Can I be a bean witch?

  6. You've made me smile this morning Celia - Ruby's recovery, her near-snack on a mouse (eee, nasty) and that very lovely photo. Here's to all the hen witches (and bean witches) x

  7. Glad to hear Ruby is feeling better!

  8. When I told my husband that hens eat mice, he was incredulous, I think I burst a sweet kindergarden impression he had that hens where vegetarians. (After all he buys corn-feed chicken!) I pointed out worms and beetles are fauna not flora and the penny dropped. He is as keen as I am on keeping hens, although for him the advantages are purely gastronomic. No, that's unfair, he would love to have hens roaming under his chair as he enjoys his G&T on a summer evening. AT LAST, I come to my point. He has said he will build a 12 foot square pen and inner house with access to the lawn for free play while we are around. Is this big enough? Am I to join the witch-hood, now where's that cauldron?

  9. Hi easygardener - Mmmm - we've always joked about Ruby's diet, but I'm not sure it's why she got Sour Crop.

    Hi Leanne - oh crikey, how sad. Hen's can be pretty gruesome at times!

    Hi Petoskystone - Ruby is head girl alright!

    Hi Gina - I think I need a badge or T-shirt ;-)

    Veg Heaven - Of course you can be a Bean-witch LOL!!!

    Hi Silverpebble - your welcome – Ruby sends her best wishes to the little Miss Ps!

    Hi Sarah and Jon - thanks, she seems very happy, but sometimes I spot her hanging back from the gang - so we need to keep an eye on her.

    Hi Woodland Fay! How exciting. I can recommend joining the Poultry Chat forum to glean as much info as you can. If you mean 12' x 12' that sounds ideal (I think the minimum recommended run size is 4 sq ft per bird). How about putting the hut in the middle and divide the run in two, then alternate which side they use to 'rest the grass/soil? It will feel like a steep learning curve at first, but seeing happy hens and having fresh eggs to use makes it all worth while.


  10. Re: divide the run in two, then alternate which side they use to rest the grass/soil
    Brilliant idea, will read the books (any you recommend for the beginner?), draw up the plans, add the construction to Nick's incredibly long "To do list" (he is touring though out April and May, and has a heavy clod plot of allotment to dig before he goes!), redesign and relocate the rabbit run and hey presto, done!
    Argh, if only I had a twitchable, bewitched nose.
    Many thanks,Fay

  11. I'm glad Ruby is feeling better - squashy crop sounds most alarming!


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