These six chickens are the latest addition to Avenue Farmhouse. We rescued them from our local animal sanctuary, Wood Green Animal Shelter. They’d been ‘confiscated’ from a battery farm and are skittish and skinny little things that we are coaxing back to feathered health, day by day.

Keeping chickens, something I have done for ten years now, is simply good for the soul. Observing their oddities, and watching them take dust baths in the vegetable garden, collecting their warm eggs –it makes me feel grounded in the same way as writing does. 

It just gladdens my heart to have chooks carousing the garden. By the time the first of you good people turn up to the Retreat’s courses in the autumn, I expect my rescue chickens to be plump and sassy!

On that note, here’s a poem I love about chickens from ‘Bork!’, Diana Gittins’ funny, astute collection of poems about chickens (and so much more).  


‘All day, Hope sat alone beside the tree,

her head drooping, refusing to eat.


The new blue-ray widescreen TV arrived.

We were shown how to use the remote.


Just after Countdown she shuddered and went.

The news blared. No more lift offs


from Cape Kennedy,

no more screaksfor sunflower seeds.


The other chickens went oddly silent

as did we.’


(From a pamphlet published by Helena Nelson’shappenstancepress.com.)  

Jessica Evans