Jun 282013

By Trish Healy.

Nora, Dora, Tina, Brenda, Jemima and Flo are the newest additions to our family, of gorgeous hens.
We had read about the horrors of battery hen farming and wished we could give some of these poor hens a life beyond the confinement of the cage, avoid the misery of the slaughterhouse and then supermarket counters and fast food outlets.

Homes4Hens Battery Hen Rescue was found after many phone calls to rescue associations who guided us towards their Facebook site.

A trip to Dumfries was arranged.  It was a glorious sunny day, gorgeous scenery, and we were filled with the excitement of meeting our new girls.

Kathryn who does the rescuing is much younger than we had anticipated. We had imagined a person in their 50’s like ourselves instead there stood a very young woman with hens, geese, ducks and cockerels, all rescued birds, running about around her feet. So much compassion!

A large shed housed the new batch of rescue hens and it was here that we met Flo. She came straight out to meet us, her face almost covered with a lifeless looking overgrown comb, her body twisted and misshapen due to the restriction of the cage. We guessed she was one of the hens at the bottom of the others and had got squashed with missing feathers showing bare patches of wings and body.

She will come home with us……another five where chosen, we  wished we could have taken more but this was our first attempt at looking after hens and wanted to do this right. All Kathryn’s hens are wormed, lice/mite treated fully and vaccinated. They all come with a care sheet/newsletter and full after care for life!

A £5 donation is all she asks to cover her cost for each hen to help her rescue more. She carefully placed two hens in each of our carriers and we set off home.

Their new home had been converted from a 6ft x 6ft shed into a coup with lots of outdoor space. Their first reaction was to nervously look around and then huddle together in a corner. They didn’t yet know how to roost at night; they soon got the hang of it though.

They looked outside the coop to see daylight and sunshine with inquisitiveness, they foraged at the ground and dust bathed in the soil, stretched out their wings and ruffled their feathers (what they had at the time) Flo was the first to find a worm and ran all around the garden with it not quite knowing what do with it!

We have found the hens so easy to look after. They love a treat especially mealworms with porridge and will rid your garden of dandelions in a flash!

To see the girls becoming more confident, doing what is natural to them; to see their separate personalities unfold has been a joy.  Nora who rules the roost is quite happy to sit on your lap or even fly onto a shoulder. We only wish we could help more of these battery hens.

I don’t believe that people choose to be cruel and if more became aware of the conditions and suffering of all that is inflicted on the hens they would choose to make different choices.

Homes4hens has so far rescued over 4,000 hens and are now rescuing hens from free range farms to save them from the slaughter that awaits them all regardless of their rearing.

They are always looking for forever homes.

When we look at our girls we do not feel like heroes, we stand humbled. We ask them, their sisters and also their brothers that never made life beyond their hatching because their sex made them unprofitable, for forgiveness.

Our girls are fully feathered now, doing what is natural for them and what as living beings they are entitled to do. They get excited to see us and enjoy our company.

They trust us. We love them. In return they give us eggs!


Homes for hens: http://www.homes4hens.co.uk/

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Mar 012012

Aberdeen Voice photographer Rob and I attended Willow’s Animal Sanctuary Open Day on 25 February and had an absolutely wonderful time. Were it not for the snow which started when we were there, Rob would have had a hard time getting me to leave. Suzanne Kelly reviews a splendid day out.

It was a nice drive to Willows from Aberdeen; the countryside is beautiful.

Willows was well signposted, and a helper was on the main road to ensure people found their way.

It is a spacious and friendly haven for animals and people. Getting to know some of each was a pleasure.

I met Sue during the event, and she told me that when she and her husband moved to Scotland six years ago, they soon discovered Willows, had visited and supported them during that time and wanted to do more.

It was then that Kate found that there were like-minded people who really wanted to help, so they were introduced. Now they have a fundraising team who have thrown themselves into their task with a will.
Although they have only been together for about fifteen months, they have already raised over £9,000 through, to name but a few events, stalls at open days, coffee mornings and bingo evenings. The team now numbers eight, Sandy, Sue, Ann, David, Ashleigh, Leigh, Lorna and George.

There are many people who help with donations of prizes etc, and who help support the team in various ways. They have lots of new ideas for future events, so have confidence that the visitors will really enjoy themselves whilst supporting Willows

“Willows not only helps animals, but we’re definitely helping people as well,” Sue tells me, “We’ve seen people blossom.” 

The office has a noticeboard divided into several sections. There are general news stories and items about animal sentience.

Yes, they do think, and feel, and know both pain and fear as well as love and happiness.

One section was about the fantastic work Willows does in bringing people with special abilities together with the animals. Both sides benefit from this interaction.

We now know that people with conditions such as autism improve hugely through interaction with animals. Horses and ponies can provide unique, valuable therapeutic benefits.

Sue and I talk a bit more, and she tells me of a fairly new arrival, McGill, a gigantic horse at 18.2 hands.

“His owners had rented him out, and then of course, you never know whether there were any problems, and consequently, when he came to Willows he was very nervous. And he had some behavioural issues”, was how Sue described McGill.

Having worked with horses in my distant past, I was ready for a highly-strung encounter with a giant. Well, McGill was indeed a giant, but he had an unbelievably sweet temperament.

Rob and I stayed and stroked him for quite some time; many others did too. If this horse had had any emotional issues, they were a thing of the past. Sandi Thom has since adopted him. She originally had adopted another animal, but it had sadly passed away.

Well, we and families patted goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, ponies, horses and the most amazingly friendly selection of cats you could ever find.

The majority of them sat on a large hay bale, which the sun was hitting. They were all soaking up the sun and loved being patted.

I particularly fell for a little feline called Gingersnap, and another gentleman called Arthur.

Arthur had been living in a tin can in a bit of scrub ground when they found him.
Sadly, he lost both his ears to skin cancer, not uncommon in white cats. I was completely won over.

We finally had a chance to talk to Sandi Thom. Her family are from the general area, and they seem to have a love of horses going back generations. Sandi seemed genuinely glad to be there, and signed several autographs as we spoke.

She’d also donated a very gorgeous autographed acoustic guitar as a raffle prize. We mentioned the generosity of Paul Rodgers and his wife, who adopted some thirteen animals.

Paul has donated several signed copies of his new DVD for Willows to sell (yes, I’d bought one). Ms Thom commented that people she’d met in the music industry often seemed to have a soft spot for animals. She clearly did.

Before we left, we spoke to Mr and Mrs Reid, who seemed to enjoy visiting the horses and have been coming for quite some time.

If the snows hadn’t started and if we didn’t have a fairly long drive back to Aberdeen, I might have stayed until they threw me out.
If I didn’t already have two rescue cats which are just a touch on the needy side, I just might have adopted another.

Please visit the Willows website to learn more. Willows helps wild, domestic and farm animals – and people of all ages.

If you can help, please get in touch. http://www.willowsanimals.com/

Dec 152011

With thanks to Aberdeen Forward and Zero Waste Scotland.

Volunteers working with environmental charity Aberdeen Forward and Zero Waste Scotland are calling on locals to make sure they are not throwing good food in the bin this Christmas.  The average household could save as much as £430 a year by stamping out food waste, and at least £18 million of edible food is thrown in the bin in Scotland every year.

Zero Waste Volunteers in the North East are now encouraging local residents to find out more about how to reduce food waste.  For more tips to reduce food waste and save money, visit www.wasteawarelovefood.org.uk.

Gillian Marr, Zero Waste Scotland’s Volunteer Coordinator for Grampian, said:

“There are a number of simple steps which everyone can take to stop food going to waste. 

“Begin by thinking about the meals you’d like to eat over Christmas, planning the ingredients you will need and writing a shopping list.  By planning meals, you can build in ideas for making tasty meals from any leftovers you might have. 

“Remember to make the most of your freezer and pay attention to the use by dates on the things you buy.  Many items, such as hard cheese and mashed potatoes, can be frozen and reused at a later date which saves on time and stops you throwing food you’ve spent good money on in the bin.  Storing your food to keep it at its best can prevent things from spoiling. 

“Thinking about how many guests you will have could also prevent you buying or cooking too much.  A perfect portion planner is available from www.wasteawarelovefood.org.uk  which advises on how much you need to make healthy-sized meals and snacks for both adults and children.

“Finally, for all the vegetable peelings and fruit trimmings you can’t avoid put these to good use, remember to use your compost bin to make a rich fertiliser you can use in the garden.”

Zero Waste Scotland’s Christmas Food Saver Tips

To help local families make the most of the food they buy over Christmas, Zero Waste Scotland’s Love Food Hate Waste Team shares some tips about how to turn your Christmas Dinner into a waste-less treat:

  • Write a list before you do that big Christmas shop to prevent over-buying in the supermarkets
  • Use the perfect portion planner at www.wasteawarelovefood.org.uk to plan how much you need to feed your guests
  • Freeze the carcass of your turkey to make a tasty stock for soup later
  • Don’t bin the leftovers of your turkey, they will be tasty on a sandwich on Boxing Day or make them into another delicious meal, like turkey curry.  You could even freeze leftover meat for later too.
  • Store those Christmas vegetables in the fridge to make sure they stay fresh long after Christmas day.  If you don’t get round to eating them in time, boil them up and freeze them in individual portions to enjoy your own home-made ready meals in January
  • If you’ve got leftovers from dessert, whipped cream can be frozen too or turn your Christmas pudding into a strudel or use leftover fruit and dessert sauces to make brownies
  • Even leftover party food can be frozen and enjoyed in packed lunches when the festive season ends.

For further information about Zero Waste Scotland contact:

Nicola McGovern, Press & PR Manager
Tel: 01786 468890
Mob: 07540 516156
E-mail:  nicola.mcgovern@zerowastescotland.org.uk

Image credit © Marilyn Barbone | Dreamstime.com ….. 78