Mad about the chicken

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Happy New Year everyone! And it’s got off to a good start as the girls have so far laid 8 eggs, their best effort since 5th October. They’re still upset about being kept in the pen due to the avian flu threat but only another week to go unless DEFRA extend the measures.


Sold another Cream Legbar boy on Tuesday evening. The birds had already gone to bed when his new owner arrived so I essentially had to dismantle the coops to locate and grab him. She was a liitle disappointed he didn’t have a straight comb – he takes after his dad and granddad – but I explained that I’m having to hold one back as he has a sore eye. He scratched it, or it was pecked, last week but the likelihood of it getting completely better is reducing. My poor boy! He’s the tamest so is a favourite. The other is earmarked for being showed as a part of a trio in the local country fair, another event on my chicken checklist.

This time my French Copper Black Marans cockerel. I was going to call him Phillipe after last night’s performance but apparently he’s going to be called Roger!

On the first morning of my breeders’ incarceration, after I’d opened their coop, I noticed that they had knocked over their food and water feeders. Of course both were in the far corner so I fetched a bamboo cane to manoeuvre them to within arms’ reach. I was rushed! A boy and three girls jumped over my shoulder in a bid for freedom. Worst still, I’d already opened the pen up for the others so they bolted for the wild bird feeders, down the path, anywhere to escape from me. Kylie was fairly easy to catch. Then I crept up on one of the other girls and took her by surprise. The boy was a little harder. He’s normally very friendly and like to hop onto my shoulder. Of course he wasn’t falling for that this time but I managed to corner him. The last girl was a right slippery customer, slippery being the operative word as the ground is saturated after all the rain we’ve had so the garden is a mudbath.  I managed to catch her just before the Other Half returned from walking the dogs. “Been busy this morning?” Grrrrr.

After an unprecedented 93% success rate with last year’s hatching, resulting in an additional 13 birds – 7 boys! – in less than 4 weeks, we decided to give hatching our own chicks a miss this year. However, the Other Half wanted to sell hatching eggs to supplement those that we sell to eat but  I’ve been dragging my feet as it entails the hassle of separating the breeders from the rest. So, I was cleaning the coops out on Monday when he returned from walking the dogs and informed me that he’d just had a chat with our chicken-keeping neighbour. He’d told her that she could have some blue hatching eggs. He’d also told her how, in the past, we had timed the hatching for Easter weekend which she thought was a lovely idea. (She would, wouldn’t she!) Now, Easter Sunday is March 27th this year, quite early. This means that the eggs need to go into incubation March 5th/6th.  Unlike humans, sperm can survive in the hen’s body for 4 weeks, which is why the breeding birds need to be separated from the rest – or at least, the girls need to be kept away from the ‘wrong’ boys – for a month prior to collecting eggs for hatching. Working backwards that takes us to, oh, this week! That is why late yesterday afternoon, in the rain and hail, we were hastily assembling a run then chasing several reluctant Cream Legbars round the pen. A box of fertilized pure breed eggs can be sold for approximately four times what we sell the ‘eating’ eggs for so, fingers crossed, it will be worth the effort.


This has been more fun than I thought it would!


The rules of this blog award are:

1. Display the logo on your blog.

2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.

3. Using the alphabet, describe yourself using a word or phrase.

4. Nominate eight deserving bloggers for the award and inform them of the nomination (although I’m not quite sure how to!)

A =Ailurophile B=Bibliophile C=Cynophile D=Drawer using pastels E=Egalitarian F=Flippin’ angry at the person who steals our eggs  G=George Ezra fan H=Horticulturist I=Implementation Co-ordinator (in a past life) J=Jewellery maker K=Knitter L=Liverpudlian by birth M=Music lover N=Normal O=Operations Analyst (also in a past life) P=Poultrykeeper  Q=Queen of all she surveys, I wish!  R=Rural settler  S=Swimmer when the opportunity arises T=Terrified of heights U=Up The Reds! V=Verona lover W=Walian by choice X=X Files fan  Y=Yes, just a little top-up then Z=zoologist (would-be)

My nominations for this blog award are :

… whilst I’ve been worming the chucks is how many pellets they eat when they can’t free range outside the pen. Given that most of the girls aren’t laying and how short the day is – I let them out of the coops at 8am and put them back in at roughly 4.30 pm – I’m amazed at how fast they are emptying their feeders. At least I can be sure that they are being wormed.