Why not keep poultry?

I would love to keep chickens… but having any animals is a big responsibility and we’re so busy I would worry that there’s no-one to look after them if we’re away. So I will keep imaginary chickens instead! I have instructions for these imaginary hens – it’s a chapter in Practical Gardening and Food Production, written I believe in the 1930’s. Richard Sudell who wrote it obviously thought poultry were of major importance as he devotes twenty-four whole pages, with illustrations and diagrams, to his instructions. He only has a double page spread for each month of the gardening year!

A new laid egg from your own hens. What a joy this brings to the novice in poultry keeping. You get all the pleasure and excitement added to considerable profit that a few chickens will bring you, if you turn over a few square yards of your back garden….

There follows detailed instructions on how to build your ‘fowl house’ with the ‘maximum amount of fresh air… in hot weather the protecting hood can be pushed back, but when necessary it is set so that all the driving rain is kept off the inside of the house and the birds. Draughts are impossible…

The edition I have was amended because of the war and includes a section on Wartime Restrictions – as imposed by the Government. Sudell discusses breeding, and there are some magnificent breed names – Buff Rock, White Wyandotte, Barnvelder, Indian Game, White Bresse… Last of all comes a section on diseases, with causes, diagnoses, and treatment. This was long before antibiotics and treatments might include washing with soft soap and an application of sulphur ointment or paraffin,, or dosing with barley water, milk or thin soluble gum, or treating with a teaspoon of salad oil, a dose of Epsom salts, or boiled rice and powdered chalk. For indigestion a useful remedy and easily prepared is the butter-soot-chopped rue leaves pill…

Yes, I think I’m better with imaginary chickens and buy my eggs – from free-range chickens of course!




  1. david lewis

    Two hens were chatting in the barnyard one day when Henny Penny asks Clara Cluck how her recent marriage is working out. Terrible says Clara! We’ve been married a month and he’s only been home two days. I warned you not to marry a free range chicken said Penny!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. FlowCoef

    Bresse sounds like a goose. I had a white Wyndot hen in my first flock. It was a fat thing that occasionally threatened the other hens. There were also Dorkings (antient Brittish breed). My favorite was the Cochin, alias Peking in your Countrey, with soft feathers and legs. There is so much…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      They are so fascinating – there’s a chicken ‘museum’ in Shropshire with all the breeds you could imagine – it’s amazing how different they are in personality as well as looks!


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