Over the last couple of months, the hens have sometimes looked as if they are moping around, complaining about the rain, wind and cold. The soil is too compacted for them to dig into properly (even though I keep forking and digging it). They cluster together under the pear tree, moaning about the season of winter and wishing for spring – their favourite time – to arrive.
And then, one day, it was as if Santa had arrived (this was before Christmas) with a big bag of goodies. It was actually Simon with woodchip, but when this simple substance was scattered on top of the damp, slightly sticky earth, the ladies came over curiously, with mounting excitement.
This needs investigating, they pondered.
Then Jemima revealed all.
‘It’s a day at the spa!’ she proclaimed.
At that, the hens got stuck in, quite literally. Rubbing and rolling themselves into the woodchip, having a luxurious dust bath.
They often have these baths in spring and summer, when the earth is dry, but don’t have this opportunity so much in the winter.
For some reason, Dottie kept appearing under Jemima, which caused her friend and pecking order leader some frustration, understandably.
All in all, it was the height of luxury and this day at the spa was just what they needed to cheer themselves up during the cold, dark winter months.
In one of my chicken books, there is guidance on making a permanent dust bath for hens which I think would be much appreciated by Jemima and co.
Fact of the Day
Dustbathing helps to keep chickens free of parasites.