Posts Tagged chickens

As Always The Boy Attracts The Girls

You distract him Wendy and Ill grab his boxer elastic

"You distract him Wendy and I'll grab his boxer elastic"

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An Eggstraordinary Event

IT’S FINALLY ARRIVED…… OUR FIRST EGG!

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I walked outside this evening to let the girls out for a roam around the garden before they turned in for the night. As they waddled off to the grass I figured I’d spend a few moments clearing the lump of poo I’d seen in their nest box this morning.

After retrieving the small hand trowel and a bag from the shed I lifted the nest box lid. Inside lay a couple of big poos and a little tiny egg.

Huh.. poo and an egg.  I straightened out the bag and held the top open ready to receive the dirty straw from the end of my trowel.

Hang on. A poo and AN EGG… AN EGG!!!  BLOODY HELL – WE GOT OUR FIRST EGG!

I lifted the little egg out of the nest box as though it were made from delicately connected petals. Small and pefectly formed and completely clean it is about half the size of a standard egg and is now sat in the kitchen awaiting breakfast time.

The only mystery is – Who did it?

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Weekend Summary

Saturday was the day of the Annual Village Fete. I absolutely love the fete which is held on the church lawn a stones throw away from our house. They set up a few old fashioned games for the kids, like hooking ducks out of a paddling pool and there are cake stalls, a wide array of old tat for sale and a plant stall to name a few. The best bit though is the brass band which trumpets through the air and summons you from your garden to come down and look around.

In the 3 years that we’ve been here my garden has benefitted greatly from the village fete. Each year I leave laden with 50p plants that I immediately set about depositing around the borders. This year I bought a large tub of Canna Lillies and two pots of Cosmos before jumping in the car to drive to town to pick my Nana up. I thought she might enjoy sitting on the lawn with a cup of tea listening to the brass band.

At 5pm as they began to clear away the plant stall chap walked over to where we were sat to see if we were interested in any left over plants. I reached in my pocket and found only 85p. In return he gave me an Anemone and two Impatiens which I’ve planted in a container just outside the patio doors of the living room.

On Sunday evening we decided to let the chickens out of their coop for the first time to freerange. With great intrepidation we watched as they hesitantly tiptoed carefully through the open coop door and out on to the patio where they began tugging at little blades of grass and weeds growing between the paving slabs. The three of us sat in a triangle as the girls made their way into our space constantly eyeing the ground and pecking at bits and pieces. Every so often Susan would scratch the ground with her feet accomplishing nothing other than flicking some dried blades of grass into the air. They pretty much stayed together and had no problem walking right up to us and eating out of our hands. They did draw the line at being stroked and if you lifted your hand just above their back they’d sort of ‘limbo’ away from it. As it began to get dark they made their way back to their coop making it easy to just close the door behind them.

Also yesterday saw the back of that heap of a Mini owned by next door. I celebrated it’s departure on the back of a trailer with a little dance behind the large shrub I was busy pruning in the corner of the garden at the time. As far as I’m aware the rest of the clan should be following next weekend. It’s not a moment too soon in my book either as we stepped out side to wave Wil’s mum off, next door emerged with a basket full of kittens some stray cat they found had given birth to under their bed. She then went on to tell us about this other cat they’d bought to replace another they had put to sleep a few months back bringing the grand total of vermin in their house to SEVEN. YES, SEVEN flipping cats. And there I was concerned that if I got some chickens they might be a bit noisy. Seven wretched cats trumps my two awesome hens on the annoyance scale by 10. Not feeling so sad about the unfortunate break down of next doors marriage now because if seven cats were about to start shitting in my garden there would have been some full on war breaking out in the not too distant future. War, and a paintball gun.

Today I took a day off work to try and catch up with a few things around the house that have been left untouched through lack of time. One was the large pile of filing I need to get on top of (but first need to purge some old crap out of my folders before anything else can fit in) and the other was some weeding in the garden. First I had to see Cameron off on his school trip, so at 8am I gathered in the playground looking much like the other mums this time wearing badly fitting jeans and t-shirt along with bed head hair, no make up and pillow marks on the side of my face. As the coach rolled away to take the kids on their school activity holiday I breathed a sigh of relief for a week to myself in which I can eat cereal for dinner every night if I want and NOT HEAR ANY MOANING. A euphoria that was halted as I looked around to see various mums wiping tears from their eyes. Glancing down the road I found the bus was still in one piece and hadn’t crashed and burned. I came to the conclusion that mums who cry over their kids going away for a week is as incomprehensible to me as kids who worry about staying away from home for a night is to Cam. We will both have an awesome week and I won’t worry about Cam being gone for 5 days and he will be safe in the knowledge I’m not soaking my pillow unecessarily. I asked Wil if there is something wrong with me, perhaps I don’t love my kid as much as those real mums do? He said it’s fine and that I’ve clearly done a smashing job of raising an independant kid who’s more than capable of standing on his own two feet. Aside from that he was one of the few 11 year olds I saw this morning who were not embarrassed to give me a big kiss and hug in front of all his friends.

So I came home with the intention of making a start on that paperwork, although I made the mistake of sitting on the doorstep of the patio doors to eat my breakfast where I made a visual plan of which areas of the garden I was going to attack first. No sooner had the last mouthful of porridge gone down I was face first in the flower border ripping bind weed out.  At 4pm Wil was asking how much longer I was going to be out for and I told him that depended how long the girls were going to be busy, and nodded at the two feathered behinds sifting through each trowel full of soil I turned over.

Gardening with chickens is ace.  They followed me all around the garden and when I started digging and pulling up weeds they sat watching the soil for any movement or tasty grubs that became uncovered and quickly jumped in to grab them. When they’d eaten enough they just laid down on the grass and sunned themselves for a bit. It’s not so dissimilar to living with Wil.

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Here Come The Girls

Introducing the newest members of Foxsden….

Susan and Wendy

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Susan is a Bluebell and Wendy is part Speckledy, both hybrids and both chosen because of the way they were alert and curious in their coop at the breeders. This pair took no time in coming up to the fence to give me an eyeing up and down muttering little throaty clucks while doing so.

They spent a very quiet time squeezed up in a cardboard box in the back of the van on the way home. When we arrived here I took them one by one out of the box inside the shed, just in case things got mad and had a little cuddle before placing them in the coop we spent the weekend building. After several minutes of looking around inspecting their new joint they began kicking about the bark chips I’d covered the floor in and started pecking at bits and pieces.

IMG00002-20090608-2121They are about 18 weeks old and nearly at the point of lay. The chap we bought them from said he didn’t think it’d be long before one of them started laying eggs, so here we are like expectant parents awaiting the first egg announcement. How eggciting.

At 9pm as it started to get a little darker they put themselves to bed inside the hen house leaving my only job to close the little ramp door up to keep them safe from the foxes.

Albeit, the only Fox they really have to worry about on this occasion is the small blonde one who will shoot out there in his dressing gown at the crack of dawn to lift up the roof of the hen house and have a nosey inside.

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chickens We spent the afternoon building a chicken coop. There is a large patio area at the top of  the garden which we never use. We placed the shed up there last year when we created the driveway at the side of the house and our washing line is up there. Even though it’s a nice patio area it’s not somewhere you’d want to sit because being at the top of the hill in our garden it feels exposed and uncomfortable.  It’s also next to the hedge between our garden and the ‘Junkyard J’s’ next door and he likes to work inside a shed on the other side which means you have to sit there listening to his phone calls. Therefore we felt this was the perfect place to keep a couple of chickens.

I’ve been toying with the idea for ages so I read some books, spoke to loads of people who have experience and spent hours trawling through websites until I got to a point where I felt like I’d been keeping chickens for years. Anything I don’t now know about keeping Chickens is not worth knowing. However, what Wil and I know about woodwork could be written on the back of a matchbox!  We found the perfect chicken house at a local timber merchant/animal feed supplier and decided it’d be cheaper to buy it than build our own. As it happens the one on display was the last one so the guy offered to let us take it and gave us a discount. We shoved it in the back of the van and made our way home armed with some timber and wire to build the run.

Since I’m not interested in finding our chickens reduced to feathers by a Fox on the garden in the morning and definately not looking to feed the local rats the run we’re building will be Fox and rodent proof. Unfortunately construction got rained off today so we couldn’t finish it. However, I’ll report back with photos and pictures of the girls when we’ve got them home this week.

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