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Bernice guarding her egg stash at Rouse Hill House Photo © Scott Hill Sydney living Museums

The chickens at Rouse Hill are prodigious layers – and take advantage of one especially broody colleague!

As a general rule we haven’t given names to the chickens at Rouse Hill House – this follows the infamous “night of the fox” a few years ago. The exceptions have been the roosters – the very magnificent Stavros, and his successor as king of the coop Davros being the most recent. My favourite chickens are the Australorps, an Australian breed, and especially one that I call Bernice – named for Bert’s pet pidgeon on Sesame Street. These are great looking chickens as they stroll about in sunlight and their feathers turn a glossy oil-slick black. Years back when Jacqui and I were at Vaucluse House we’d let them out into the service yard on a quiet afternoon just because they looked so magnificent strutting about. When they run however they’re a tad comical. They were photographed by a lot of visitors.

Australorp chicken at Rouse Hill House. Photo © Scott Hill Sydney Living Museums

Bernice the broody Australorp at Rouse Hill in her favourite nesting box. Photo © Scott Hill for Sydney Living Museums

Bernice is a very broody hen, who will sit all day on her egg stash if given the chance. The other chickens take advantage of this, and will squeeze in next to her (or even on top of her!), lay their own eggs and push them sideways under her wings, then head off into the garden for the day. This was Bernice’s collection after just 2 days! Only 2 or 3 of the eggs are actually hers; note the subtle differences in colour from our 3 breeds of hen. She wasn’t at all pleased at being evicted.

Bernice's egg stash at Rouse Hill. Photo © Scott Hil for Sydney Living Museums

Bernice’s considerable stash of eggs at Rouse Hill. Photo © Scott Hill for Sydney Living Museums

As it gets hotter the eggs will start to drop in number. For the time being however we’re collecting over a dozen a day.  This was the the result from after a recent weekends efforts:

Chicken nesting boxes at Rouse Hill House. Photo © Scott Hill for Sydney Living Museums

If you’d like to meet the chickens at Rouse Hill or Vaucluse Houses have a look at our Summer opening hours. Both houses are open every day during school holidays and have a range of holiday programs throughout the year.