NOT many people can say their chickens share the name of a vacuum cleaner, but apparently we can.

Deciding we had enough space to house some creatures we plumped for the fowl variety and, as you do, hit the internet and got a book.

Thumbing through the pages we were struck by the distinguished-looking Vorverk.

They were of German origin and, we learned, bear no relation to the German company which produces the Vorverk vacuum cleaner, which, incidentally, we hadn’t heard of.

They were also on the rare breed list, produce around 170 eggs each per year and in case they didn’t live up to scratch, made a good accompaniment to sage and onion stuffing and roast potatoes.

More importantly they are fairly hardy - a must as we live in an elevated, open-to-all-elements position on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border, near Slaidburn.

After making our choice we hit the internet again. A poultry farm had some near Preston so off we trotted in late July and made a purchase, along with feeders, grit, layers pellets and water receptacles.

Neville, so named by the eldest grandson, (I wanted to name him Dyson, for mischief)) and his three ladies settled in well. We had spent an age making a holding pen which we kept them in for nearly a week. Later we would find this a futile practice as they had absolutely no intention of leaving us and, soon, we realised there was little danger of them finding their way into a casserole dish. We loved them.

Having two acres of land to roam in a decision was made to add to the flock. This time a bit more variety begged and so our own Foghorn Leghorn - a silver duckwing Leghorn cockerel which came free with four pullets, all around 14 weeks of age, joined the family in September.

Paxo and his ladies were a bit skittish and as soon as they were released from their coop the following morning they headed for some bushes and wouldn’t come out. It seems they had been reared indoors and hadn’t so much seen the light of day let alone humans or even vehicles.

They bolted at the sound of motorbikes or heavy lorries on the road and had no idea what to do when caught out in a heavy hail shower.

Before long, they grew accustomed to their home and ventured out and have grown considerably into handsome birds. They are not show standard by any stretch of the imagination but we really only wanted them for their good egg-laying qualities.

Neville was not too upset about this potential upstart joining the family. Seemingly, Vorverks are very tolerant of other cockerels and Paxo didn’t seem overly bothered about chasing Neville’s ladies just yet. That would come later, and often.

A few weeks afterwards and a friend of a friend gave us two warrans and two bluebell hens. Three were laying daily and all was going swimmingly until one got run over on the road, another ran off in shock and another fell of its perch, quite dead, one night.

Around the beginning of October we would see an advert selling five standard warran hens near Lawkland; the sort you’d find in most farmyards. They came, boisterous and friendly, with their own bungalow and feeders for the sum of £70.

These girls have given us three or four eggs a day, sometimes five and occasionally six (one must have held one back) since day one.

A few more weeks passed by and all the chickens seemed to be getting on famously.

Fancying some newcomers, particularly bantams, we went along to see what was on offer at a poultry show and sale, at Clitheroe.

Out we came with a pair of gold Sebrights, developed in England, a pair of gold rare breed Kraienkoppe developed in Germany, and a trio of gold pencilled Hamburgs which, despite the name, were apparently developed in the north of England.

We spent a ‘paltry’ £25 on the lot of them.

What comics they all are from the prim and proper, though not particularly pretty, Kraienkoppe hen (apparently the name translates roughly as ‘crow head’) and her mate, Karl, to the bossy Sebright cockerel, Sidney, and the handsome and athletic-looking Hamburg, Henry.

The bluebell, the only survivor of the four hens, began bullying the bantams so we found her a new home on a neighbouring farm.

We’re currently making some more coops to house more endangered British species and making a breeding pen and look forward to hatching some eggs from these entertaining family members this spring.