When we were in the cottage, we were given five battery hens and a hen house as a housewarming gift. Excited as we were at having them, we were novices, and invested in a book for beginners. We were given tips on how to deter foxes, feed, what to put in nesting boxes, watering vessels, and letting the birds roam.
After they demolished our garden with their scratching and pecking, pecked Maggie on the bum once too often so she refused point blank to ever pee or poo in the back garden again, we began to think it had been a practical joke.
Not to be beaten, we looked after our little brood and had around 1300 eggs in the few years we had them.
When we were down to three, we retired them, and their hen house, to a friend who had a small holding and a lonely one eyed cockerel called Steve. There they lived for another couple of years in contentment, laying the occasional egg but not many, and keeping Steve company provided he let them call the shots.
We only named one, a pathetic skinny heap of tatty feathers, and she was the last to pass away, being found asleep forever in the nesting box.
This is Scraggy, an ex battery hen who fluffed up to be the best of the five, bless her.