The Good Life

October 23, 2020 1:56 PM
By Jenny Kelly

Local campaigner Jenny Kelly reflects on making the most of her garden during lockdown.

Good Life (Jenny Kelly)During lockdown I found myself with more time at home than I had ever had before. I began to re-evaluate my life and to seriously consider what was important to me. I could never get physical and mental well being taking top priority and to that effect I looked around for ways to improve them. I didn't have to search too far as I found what I was looking for in my garden. For years it had been a 'place to keep on top of' - keeping the grass cut and the weeds from the flower beds. Now it has a very different feel to it.

It started by giving over a small patch of land to plant some potatoes and onions. They grew quickly and I was delighted with the end product. It got me thinking about turning my garden into a working space. It wasn't long before the fruit bushes were planted, the composter was in place, a nest of bees moved into an old chimney pot and with the strategic placing of feeders some birds began to visit. I loved seeing a bit of wildlife , it simply made me very happy.

It was then , in the back of my mind, that the idea of keeping chickens began to emerge but was it a step too far?

We knew nothing of keeping poultry and had to embark on a lot of on-line research. The Hen Welfare Trust came to our rescue. It answered so many of our questions on space, housing, feed, bedding and so much more that we hadn't even thought about.

There were hurdles to overcome not the least of which was an open plan garden, this had to be enclosed in both an attractive yet secure way to keep the chickens in, the foxes out and the neighbours happy. The hen house and run were purchased, bags of feed , grit and straw arrived. Then armed with some basic knowledge, we took the plunge.

Good Life (Jenny Kelly)Our 4 rescue hens arrived in a cardboard box. Despite overgrown claws, twisted beaks and threadbare wings - they had already captured my heart . I was fascinated to watch them settling in. They stared in bewilderment at their new environment then slowly began to scratrch at soil, taste new foods, find shelter and learn when it was time to go to bed .

Within a week they had begun to explore their surroundings and they grew in confidence . We gave them names (Hetty, Lou, Ada and Hilde) and their quirks became known to us. It was a joy to watch.

So now we are 4 weeks down the line. Our garden most certainly looks a little messier. There's poo patrol every night, a weekly house clean and change of bedding and a fortnightly powerhouse of the patio. Yet it really doesn't seem like work at all rather a new found structure which has been introduced to our lives. Several curious visitors have begun to appear at the garden gates and we have lots to chat about. We are spending more and more time outside wrapped up in woolies tackling those outdoor jobs we've put off for ages or enjoying the warmth of a few logs on the fire. All in all I feel we've reclaimed our garden and what it was always intended to be.

Good Life (Jenny Kelly)