Jenny Gower and her chickens

Jenny Gower’s brown shaver hens are almost two years old. She and her husband David have had the hens since they were babies.

David had mentioned casually (often!) that it would be cool to have backyard chickens. For years I said no then one day I just decided to relent. He couldn't believe it! So he got them for his birthday.

How did they get their names?
We named them Crispy and Spicy just in case there was ever any doubt about where they would end up if they didn't perform. But they just get called "chooky" or "chicken nuggets" or "those bloody chickens”.

We didn't have to modify the property at all for the chickens as it was already fenced. However, to avoid the chickens strolling through the house (which they will do at the drop of a hat) we decided to replace the deck and balustrade. My son and husband worked hard through the summer doing a beautiful job. We spent a lot of time spacing the balustrades just so. When it was all finished and painted and beautiful and we were sitting there sipping a gin and tonic admiring our handiwork, a chicken walked straight up and went between the balustrades - what we had failed to notice was that some of the gaps between them were a perfect chicken shape!

What is your favourite thing to do together?
They are so entertaining to watch, very comical. They have quite different personalities. One is more confident and stroppy and the other more reserved. It's really funny to catch sight of people walking past our fence on the way to Ponsonby and do a double take when they realise there are chickens on the lawn. Little kids love to see them.

Do the hens have any friends?
They have grown up with our cat Gypsy who met them when she was about 10 weeks old. We would often find her in the chicken coop - including cuddling up to an egg. They also seem to be quite friendly with a pair of pigeons who are on to a good free meal with all the grain that's always scattered about.

What do they like to eat?
They were raised on commercial layer pellets that I get from PGG Wrightsons out in Kumeu. I'm sure the guy at the store has a good giggle about my Ponsonby chickens when I go in there for supplies. In the winter when there aren't so many bugs around to eat I also feed them Fancy Feast tuna cat food! They love it. I have to be careful I don't buy chicken by mistake because that would just be wrong. For most of the year we get two eggs a day (one from each obviously) but at this time of the year production is somewhat slow.