I’ll never forget the day we brought home our first chickens – four featherless rescue chickens looking terribly sorry with themselves. That was back in the spring of 2009, and it’s hard to imagine life without a chicken or two bobbling around. Since then we’ve accrued various chickens – some dropped off, for ‘a couple of weeks’, and stayed with us for ever. Some we’ve bought in as friends to others, some found roaming the fields or lanes around us. It’s fair to say we have always had a mish-mash of feathery friends, all with their own characters.
However, as time has passed, the urge to start our own flock became greater. Partly it’s the same curiosity that drives the body to grow your own food, rather than shopping from a faceless supermarket. You are so removed from the act of chicken rearing and the realities involved, it’s almost akin to being a consumer of the lifestyle. Chickens aren’t exactly the same, in that the farmers selling them to you tend to be local, and are themselves passionate about their animals and their welfare, but that nagging feeling was always there, to start our own flock. And your own flock meant a pure breed, if you wanted some consistency.
Much reading led us to the coop door of the Sussex chicken, and the Light Sussex in particular. Renowned for their gentle temperament, a dual-pupose breed that makes a good table bird and lays well, they seemed a good choice for the smallholder. They have a tendency to go broody in the warmer months, which is no bad thing for people wanting to rear their own chicks, and are generally vigorous and hardy. We chose the Light Sussex as the light colours are regarded as the better egg layers, but we are lucky enough to have a rather large hen, and a pretty cock who is as gentle a cock as you could hope to find, the Adam and Eve for our new flock.