The History of Bootle Hens


So you want to know how it all started? Or maybe you just clicked the wrong link?

Way back in 1993 my parents bought a field when a local farmer sold up. Individual fields don't come up very often so they seized the opportunity.

With my Father being a top local Greyhound trainer at the time, his idea was to use the land to exercise the Greyhounds. He bought a Greyhound trap, butchered one of my old bicycles and stole my luminous pink Gordon the gopher hand puppet. The back tyre came off the bike, which was stood upside down on its saddle. A couple of hundred metres of string were wrapped around the wheel with poor old Gordon on the end of it.

So try and picture it, luminous Gordon at one end of the field, 200 metres down the end of the string little old me crouched next to the bike. 15 metres behind Gordon is my Father, stood next to the trap. The trap has a greyhound in it, chomping at the bit to get out and rip Gordon a new arsehole. On my Fathers instruction I was to wind the peddles as fast as my arms would allow me. Then Dad would 'release the hound' as it were, and it would come flying out after Gordon. There were a few teething problems as you may imagine. Like me not being able to wind Gordon in fast enough. Or Gordon coming away from the string meaning that Dad had to try and catch a Greyhound that was doing 25 laps of honour around our field with a hideous puppet in its mouth. In the end my Dad did the winding and either myself or my brother would let the dog out of the trap. Anyway it must have paid off because you should see the amount of trophies my Dad's dogs won him over the years.

What's this got to do with hens? Ok, ok I'm getting there.

At some point my Dad used a part of the field to dig a vegetable patch. So he started growing vegetables. There's nothing better than home produce if you get it right. After a while he then decided to take it to the next level by getting some hens. A local contractor had an old caravan for sale that was in good order despite its age. 50 later we had a mobile hen hut. After constructing a pen we were almost a step closer to self sufficiency!

Next Dad went and got a couple of potato sacks full of hens off someone from Broughton-in-Furness. We were then officially hen keepers. To be honest I wasn't interested in them to begin with (I was about 14 years old) but I remember going with Dad to get a new Cockerel. This bloke had told us it was the bee's knees and would have crows and magpies trying to crawl up their own arses to get away from it. We'd been having bother off Crows and Magpies at the time (something we've always had - until recently! See the news section for details) and Dad thought the introduction of a Cockerel may help deter them. So we went to see this bloke who said he had this Russian cockerel for us. He said it was a right mean bastard. To be honest when I first laid eyes on it I was shit scared of it. It was fooking massive as Chickens went, and it was a right ugly bastard to say the least. Dad was well impressed and the money soon changed hands. I was reluctant to share the same car home with it!

So we introduced it to the hens. It strutted around the pen like Dolph Lundgren. Everyone (including me at the time) knew who was the boss down at Bootle Hens from now on. Apart from Crows and Magpies that is. Because after about 2 weeks of settling in they had ganged up on the 'Russian Rooster' killing him and pecking his eyes out for good measure. So to reiterate and old saying - its not the size of your cock...

Head Hen Honcho Jeff then began taking the excess eggs in to work where he sold them to colleagues. Any money made would be used to buy Hen feed. Thus meaning that we would (potentially) be getting our eggs for free.

As I got older I began looking after the Hens when my parents went off on holiday. I remember how much I enjoyed cycling down to the field (too young to drive at the time) when it was absolutely pissing down and freezing cold. Clomping through mud and chicken shite, only to find it even more difficult cycling home wearing wellies clogged up with shit and a bucket full of eggs to cart home. And no, the eggs weren't always intact when I got home.

I don't suppose it matters too much now so I can tell you that after two or three nights of pedalling I used my initiative and put the pedal to the metal in Dads van instead! Its only 2 miles away anyway!

Initially I had absolutely no interest in the hens. I was much more interested in doing hand brake turns, J turns and power sliding mine and brother Marc's X reg Metro van that Dad bought us to learn to drive in.

As I got older my inquisitive nature developed and I became interested in all sorts of different things (all legal thank you very much). One of which was self sufficiency including hens. Another was computers/internet. Bootle Hens was born.