Chickens


Oh dear, not a single entry for February – v. poor! Not that there is that much to report. I have been tied to the desk trying to get assignments finished for a course I’m trying to complete before the baby arrives.  And on that note, I am slowly turning into a weeble incable of bending over for long enough to do anything productive before I ping back into an upright position.

We are now experiencing more eggs than we know what to do with. Luckily, there are plenty of people willing to pay for a few, which is a complete bonus because it is probably now covering the cost of the corn and bedding. It may be just a small hint at self sufficiency but I think it counts?

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When we got the new chooks last autumn they were point of lay but not yet laying, and the original crew (of 2) had stopped laying, probably due to moulting. Last year it seemed a very short amount of time they stopped laying but this year I think they took offence at the addition of 3 newcomers and have been sulking ever since.  So it had been a pretty barren winter for eggs until all that snow thawed when Ethel, one of our originals and always the best layer of enormous eggs, started laying again! She it Queen of the pecking order so I suppose it is to be expected she would be first. That was about a week ago, then, Saturday morning, there were TWO eggs!! Not only that, but one is a distinctly darker shade of terracota than we’ve seen before – conclusion: one of the new chooks is laying. Very excited household starts mad internet search to find out what colours might relate to what type of chicken. Apart from finding out that egg colour is genetically linked to earlobe colour (the darker the earlobe, the darker the eggshell… I think) I struggled to find a comprehensive list of breeds and their eggshell colour. The new hens are all different, a Black Rock,  Bluebell and a Sussex Star and without doing anything remotely logical (like inspecting their earlobes) I’ve concluded its my Courtney the Black Rock that has started. But, I reserve the right to amend that judgement based on future observations! Maybe by next weekend, another will started laying…

I have been very naughty, starting a blog then completely failing to keep it up to date. Still no apologies, was busy doing other things.

And, it has been a busy year although trying to sum up our successes I find I can’t remember anything, although that could just be my presnt conditions, more on that in a minute. In terms of produce we didn’t get perhaps as much as we would have liked but did pretty well with:

broccoli, kale, cabbages, onions, garlic, courgettes, parsnips, plums, damsons, redcurrants, gooseberries, apples (although not nearly as many as last year), some strawberries and a few runner beans.

Actually, thats not a bad list for our first year. It is overshadowed by a potato crop completely devastated by slugs, the little tiny buggers burrowed their way in and left a hollow shell. There was a lot of swearing involved in digging them up. Lesson for next year is to plant smaller amounts more regularly and dig them up quick before they get a  chance to become infested. The other disappointment was the tomatoes. I know they are supposed to be easy but we never seem to have much success. They never seem to ripen in time and I think they got blighted this year as well.

Still, major success at our first village show in July – prize winning biscuits, chutney and courgettes, the only classes we entered! Particularly pleased with the courgettes as they beat the local prize winning veg grower who won every other class of veg. The was much silliness and merriment, dancing with morrismen and entering a bidding war for our own biscuits!!

The other major development over the summer was the Amish-style erection of the new chicken shed and the arrival of 3 new chickens in October. May I present: Nora the Explorer, Jemima Puddlechicken and Courtney Clucks who join a less than impressed Gilbert, Ethel and Vera.

The late part of the summer and autumn was overshadowed for me by the affliction that is morning sickness. Yes, number 3 is on the way, due the end of April, and did put an abrupt halt on my gardening efforts. Luckily it passed in good time for Christmas and I have enjoyed way too many mince pies and consequently look imminently ready to pop rather than only midway through. Nevermind, will deal with that later.

So, on with the show. Well at least hopefully at some point, it has all stalled due to ridiculous amounts of snow and now completely waterlogged soil but we’ll see how things look next weekend – we are aiming for a trip to the garden centre for some rhubarb and a pear tree or two…

I meant to come straight back after the last post and show you just how severe my prune was, but got completely distracted because it snowed! Really, really snowed more than I think I’ve ever seen in my life before. SO here is a picture of my pruning…

Hedge prunings

Hedge prunings

  but much more interestingly here are also some really snowy pictures!

Snow storm

Snow storm

Is this a whiteout?

Is this a whiteout?

And the sun came out

And the sun came out

PS It turns out chickens hate the snow. Ethel and Vera just about braved a quick roam when the sun came out yesterday afternoon but Gilbert wouldn’t even step foot outside the henhouse. He is such a woose!