The rest of them looked on, very innocently. Nattering about how much bigger it was inside than they thought. This one I think is trying to get the low down on the fencing gear and if it goes missing, I'll know which one to ask. That one, she's called Karyn, you may have heard of her before, Adventure Hen Extraordinaire......
It got worse...........much worse.
Exhibit b - henious crimes against gardeners on windy islands which are hard enough to garden on at the best of times.
I'm not growing many pretty flowers, I love them but its utterly pointless. They get blasted by the wind and I cry, you'll not see a lovely display of summer colour here - well not for more than 30 seconds before the wind destroys it. Even if I give HARDY annuals a go, I have to raise very carefully indoors from seed, which is a pain in the derrier as putting seed straight out here in the fine mud of Orkney is just not on, season too short/blowly/cold/stupid. Throw money into wind, is a much more effective strategy. Or look at them in a book or a blog - but not 'out there'.
Therefore if we are very persistent and really want a bit of hardy annual colour, we have to try and grow them first like tender bedding or veggie plants growing them on into decent sized beasts to be released into the cruel world out there in the garden. Otherwise it just doesn't work. Its a royal pain in the rear and only saved for a very few favourite plants. Therefore I don't grow many. I grow calendula and often nasturtiums as I love them but I have to coddle them on first. And as a treat this year, I'm growing Cerinthe major 'Purpurescens'. I like it, it likes seaside gardens, bees and butterflies love it, jobs a good un. It's beautiful - if you've never grown it, I'd highly recommend it - gorgeous thing and very hardy. Elsewhere once you've grown it, if you've gravel nearby it will self seed happily and you'll always have it.
With great anticipation, I grew my little ones on the window sill then carefully acclimatised them to a luxurious fishbox-come-cold frame last week - with a little lid on - to keep them safe from 'you know who', all 11 of them. What do I find when I go out and have a look at them - plastic lid sligthly nudged over, a suspicious chicken sized hole gaped at me. Horrifed to find 3 of my 9 seedlings strewn on the ground with suspicious looking hen pecks on them and a dirty great hen poo in the middle of the seed tray. I guess they didn't like the taste of them - boo hoo chickens, I'm glad you don't like them. My own fault for not tying the lid on properly. I'm very silly.
There are no photos of this crime, the plants were immediately rescued and appear thankfully to be OK, aside a few holes and a spell of sunbathing. No chickens have paid the price for this henious act either. Even though there are no photos to show you, we've still got 11 of them. And, now a rock and a stob and a big pot now holds down the lid of the makeshift cold frame. Move that if you can now chicken, if you dare. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough...........
Needless to say - I've immediately gone and bought 6 new fencing stobs, a load of bean wire for over their enclosure and I'm going to put the fencing equipment to good use over the next couple of days. Thier free range days are REALLY over now - do not mess with the Cerinthe - that was just too much. I'm not going to faff about with annual flowers to this extent, in this climate, in the hope of even just ONE flower, to have them terrorised by chickens. Have you hens no hearts?
That really was a step too far.