Susie Kearley talks to Anya Lautenbach whose home shows her love of gardening and chickens
Anya Lautenbach from Bucking-hamshire has a keen interest in nature, the environment, and sustainable living. She recently started keeping chickens, and her husband Richard has kept bees and butterflies for years.
Anya’s had an interesting life and is well travelled. Originally from Poland, she lived in Germany for a few years and then moved to the Highlands of Scotland in 2006, where she enjoyed the wild environment, the amazing Highland landscapes, and all the delights of the natural world.
She moved south to Buckinghamshire in 2008, where with husband Richard, she had two sons, William and Edward, now aged 7 and 4. She teaches them the importance of nature, bees, butterflies, and flowers. She runs a business selling luxury items and antiques on behalf of clients, so she can fit her work around her children and the family’s natural lifestyle.
Anya has an amazing garden, with a large vegetable plot, a wild flower meadow, and beehives. They’ve just started keeping chickens and currently have three hybrids. Anya says: “We are a very nature orientated family and I love gardening. I designed our garden myself and we had the Royal Horticultural Society pay us a visit last year. They were interested because I’d created the garden from nothing, and by sharing my experiences and my passion for gardening and nature, I’ve made connections with all sorts of people, so that’s how they heard about it.
“Everyone was shocked when I decided to have hens, thinking they would destroy the garden and I’d be devastated, but they’ve been a delight. When we first got the hens, there were no problems at all. They wandered around the garden exploring their new home. They brought so much positive energy into our life and they look great with all my lovely flowers in the background. Our boys absolutely adore them.
“After a few weeks, the hens did start scratching, making a mess of the grass, and digging up plants, so now we’re building them a pen while I try to keep them away from the herbaceous borders! If I see a hen scratching, I’ll shoo her away from the flowers! Once the new pen is finished, they’ll still come into the garden, but they can spend more time in the chicken area, just while the plants are getting established. Then in the summer, when the plants are grown and everything’s out, it’s a jungle of flowers so they can go and lose themselves in it!
“The hybrid hens were 15 or 16 weeks old when we got them, and they’re very sociable, which is just as well because the boys do like to handle them a lot! Fortunately, they don’t mind all the attention and they still follow the boys around. When I was little we had chickens, so I’m not completely new to hen keeping. Now when I pick the boys up from school, they spend hours in the garden with the chickens. The whole experience is uplifting and positive - we even like the sound they make. We’ll be getting a silver laced wyandotte soon. I’m tempted to get a silky hen too!
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