Well, Madge and Fannie have been with us for a week now and all the signs are that they are happy to stay a while longer! They came with their own hi-tech hutch (called an eglu!) and integral run, and have to stay put in there for a week or so until we are confident enough to let them out in a larger run. They're plumping-up nicely, like little soft feather cushions.
We thought that we would immediately resort to foodie-bribery in order to have some sort of control over them and raisins have done the trick. They are complete dried fruit junkies! As soon as either of us appears they decide a treat is in store and I think they would probably come running from the furthest corners of the garden if they thought they'd get a raisin reward. We are trying to be sensible and not issue treats until they have had their proper breakfast and lunch of layers pellets. But they supplement their own diet by chasing any wayward greenfly that innocently flutter into beak-range. I can't understand the fascination - greenfly are so tiny, how does a hen know that they taste good? They certainly seem to be worth a dash to the other end of the pen in hot pursuit. (They're watching a fly in the photograph!) The other big attraction is anything shiny - my wedding ring, Richard's watch, drips on the water bowl. Those ladies love a bit of bling!
I'm really trying not to anthropomorphise them - I know they're hens not people, really I do. But they do seem to have their own little quirks and personalities. Madge is not quite so brave as Fannie, but she's really greedy. Fannie doesn't seem to be much of a morning hen. While her companion is rearranging her feathers and having a hearty breakfast before scratching up the bark chippings, Fannie stands blinking in the sunshine showing only mild interest in Madge's fussy activities. She might stretch out one scaly leg behind her, in a kind of Darcy Bussell balletic pose, but that's about it.
We've already had a lot of fun watching their antics and their madcap ways. I've asked my experienced hen-keeper friend Anne to come and see them and confirm whether they are completely barmy. She said, "I can tell you without coming to see them - all hens are barmy." But she's coming to see them anyway - who could resist?