Friday, 27 May 2011
I think our thoughts on becoming the egg supplying capital of Scotland was possibly a bit premature. Today we had 0, yep count 'em, 0, eggs!
We are not overly worried as we had been warned that they may go off laying for a couple of days through the stress of moving home. We thought we had missed that problem with the eggs laid yesterday but possibly they had them 'brewing' already and the enormity of the move has only just sunk in.
They are all looking very healthy and happy though and are still very friendly. They run to the door of the run as you approach and are happy to peck around your feet. It looks to me like they have been around people and are happy to be picked up but it is more of a pick up because they need to moved somewhere. They don't seem to understand touching or picking up as an affection thing, but we can work on that.
Someone asked me yesterday what the eggs were like and I can confirm that they were lovely. I had a couple for lunch today, cooked I might add into a rather tasty cheese omelette!
Hopefully tomorrow will fair better for egg collection...
Thursday, 26 May 2011
We have had our chickens about 6 hours and we have had 5 eggs already! (I did a post bedtime collection) I think we may get a lot of eggs LOL! If you happen to be passing, stop in, get some eggs! Every visitor leaves with a dozen! I love the different colours, white ish and 'egg' coloured. We also have skinny egg at the top left there!
(I know it says 5 one was laid as a present in the car for us on the way home, I forgot about it and grabbed the cat carrier after we released the ladies and it smashed *glum face*, but it still counts!)
Well, Farm Dad had been given a finish date of today for the chicken run as there was a poultry auction in the local town and we wanted to have the option to buy if we spotted something we like. Well he hammered and nailed and sawed and dug and hid from the rain and dodged the branches whizzing past in the 70+mph winds we have had here over the last few days and completed the run the day before our trip to the sale! Thanks Farm Dad, you are a star!!!
But what were we supposed to take to a poultry sale? We had never been to an animal auction, or any auction, and we had never had to transport chickens anywhere! All we had was a selection of cat boxes, so they would have to do. We had assumed that cardboard boxes would do but hte auction house had a specific rule about 'no cardboard boxes'. So being good little children we cleaned and disinfected the cat carriers and off we went.
When we got there we knew we would have to register and get a catalogue but where and how was a mystery! I flagged down a likely looking lad with a catalogue and enquired about that. He told us they were just in a box on the Auction House's own stall that was selling animal carriers - cardboard ones I might add!!! There was only one catalogue on the stall and we weren't sure if it was actually the one they, we waited for our moment, picked it up and acted casual!!!
We went around and there was everything you could want, eggs, hatching eggs, boxes of chicks, groups of hens of all ages and breeds, trios and in the last cage at the top... it looks like... it is! A rabbit! It was very exciting and a bit scary but we chose the birds we liked the look of and marked them down to come back when the bidding started. We also marked down similar lots to watch and see what prices they went for, hopefully to give us some idea of the going rate so we wouldn't pay over the odds, at least not to far hopefully!
There was alsorts on our list of possible buys including some ex-free range hens from a commercial farm. I thought this was good and asked the guy selling about them. He said they had several thousand free range hens and when their hens reach 72 weeks they are sold as meat birds. But they had seen that there was nothing wrong with them as layers for the pets market and in the guys words 'seemed a waste' sending them to slaughter so they were trying selling them to see how it went. He had put in about 30 lots of 6 hens.
The first lot we tried for was a selection of 7 brown hens, that's as descriptive as they got ,but bidding went higher than we wanted. They were very pretty little hens and there were several people after them, I think for that reason.
Next up came the first of two lots of hens that we'd liked the look of, we tried bidding and so did someone else, they pushed above our top bid, *glum face*, and then someone else joined in, up it went. No chance there then. We'd decided that whenever we bid we'd stick to our limits and wouldn't get drawn into a 'perhaps if we just bid once more....'. Never having been to an auction before we knew we must enjoy it but not get so caught up that we went crazy.
The second lot of these birds came up and we thought we'd try our luck again. He tried starting the bidding where the others left off! No chance! We all stared blankly at him and forced him to start right down the cheap end of the scale, we bid, someone bid against us! Grrr! Although not surprising the interest there had been in the last lot. But there was only one competetor. We hit our top bid again, they'd gone higher before. Would someone else join in as before? Hearts in our mouths and realising I was willing the hammer with my mind...
"Hit the hammer down, hit it!! There must be others after these, they were after the others! HIT THE HAMMER!!!"
He did! We'd done it! We had just bought some chickens! At an auction!
Now... how the heck do you pay for them?...
We had to go right out of the hall, pay at the office and get a 'You may take your chickens' pass - again another helpful person explained it all. By the end of this we were known by everyone cos of our questions or the escaped chicken incident (see below) and even a window cleaner who kept having to hold the door open for Farm Baby's pram!
We paid for our chickens, bought some sundries and asked to put up a poster (more about that later). Then, after retrieving the cat boxes we headed back in. We realised again that the cardboard box rule was 'just for show' as someone left with the CD Player box full of chickens!!
We asked the guy who was sent to help us if he thought all the hens would fit in our cages, he looked at the hens, then at the boxes, back at the hens, 'Yeah' he said with a rather uninterested shrug. Hmmmm.... 'Will you be alright with them?' For some reason Farm Guy said yes so we were left to box our own hens. We opened the cage and immediately a chicken flew out. Everyone around stopped to watch the fun and we felt them willing the other hens to follow suit so they could watch us chasing hens all over the hall. We grabbed the escapee and posted her into a box. The others seemed less inclined for a re-enactment of the Great Escape.
'Ha!' onlookers, our other hens are well behaved, sorry to spoil your viewing fun! I was surprised how well behaved they were to be honest, they had no problem being picked up, there was no chasing and no flapping. They are slightly older than pullets so the age may have calmed them slightly. We were boxed and ready, off we went.
Home we arrived and got our ladies unpacked. So, you have all read patiently through the waffle above to reach the bit you want to see.. lets meet the girls. Only a few photos, letting them settle in before the paparazzi get really into them! There are eight all together and they are Lohmann Browns, check out my page here about their history. They aren't a fancy breed with a capital F but they are a known breed rather than 'hen'. Apparently they are the kind of hen you would find in commercial farms, your supermarket eggs are likely to be from a Lohmann Brown, but these hens will have a better life than ones for the supermarket trade.
And very pretty they are too... we think so anyway!
Saturday, 21 May 2011
So as you know we are currently building a chicken coop, well Farm Dad is. And it is slow going, as it is his project and he can only give occassional time to it. However, he was able to make some major headway over the past couple of weeks, particularly yesterday and it is starting to look finished!!!
Eventually it will have a solid roof at the left hand end to give some protection from our hilltop weather to both the chickens and the chicken house. But for the moment he is just going to cover the whole thing in chicken wire. It is really looking so good and we are really looking forward to being able to get some chickens in it!!!
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Disaster is maybe a tad over the top but it certainly felt like it and it has caused some mayhem in its aftermath! Somehow we have had drastic deaths in the vegetable patch! All the Runner and French Bean plants are dead, around 40 plants total. They were all healthy, growing well and seemed to have adapted to the gales we have been having at the moment. Then one morning I go out and they have all dropped dead, some are dry and crispy whilst others look like they filled up with water and went mushy! Very strange, and all in the space of one night.
The beans have not be the only mysterious deaths either the cabbages took offense at the hot weather and even with watering shrivelled up and pushed their boots skywards. And the Brussel Sprouts just ceased to be, one minute there the next they're gone! I think something ate them!!
And to top it off the celery just laughed and died as well!
All in all a good time is being had by all!!! The peas, however, are thriving, they apparently saw the whole bean massacre from their adjoining rows but are saying nothing. The rocket and beetroot are also holding their own and the broad beans are showing them how it is all done! The carrots were looking good too but they seemed to have gone the way of the beans and changed their mind.
I am blaming the odd weather we have been having, I have been getting reports from gardeners and farmers alike that crops are doing odd things at the moment, its all this Bermuda heat and then howling wind and rain that is doing it, confusing the little darlings!
So there has been some emergency re sowing of extra seeds to replace the lost battalions and they are all looking good. I am hoping, and so far, with fingers crossed, it is all looking like this won't be the set back that it may have been but it did dampen spirits somewhat.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Last year we 'claimed' the top of our field as an area that we would use for ourselves. And we quickly decided that some fruit trees would be amazing. Our own little orchard. Well it has taken us until this past weekend to actually do anything about it! A chance trip to a local garden centre for lunch supplied us with our first tree, chosen by Farm Guy.
The new Victoria plum tree has been given pride of place right in the middle of where our new orchard will be!
Apparently it takes five trees to make an orchard. In our case it's one!!