This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Found an interesting blog:

I "met" her originally through and we certainly have a few things in common. I spotted her blog when she posted on where I have been lurking and occasionally posting for the past year.

Off on holiday tomorrow to Cornwall for a week. Yay!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

I keep going out to watch the Light Sussex. I've seen two of them display and have a go at each other with their, as yet nonexistant, spurs. So two are definitely male. I'm pretty sure a third one is male too and I'm not sure at all about the fourth. The whole idea was to acquire some new layers but if only one is female, then I have a new problem. What do you do with just one hen that you can't put in with the existing flock in an enclosed run? My farmer friend said that "you know you can eat females as well as males..." which would solve this particular problem for me. But they would be expensive dinners! And I still would not have any new layers coming along.

Still, I am on a learning curve. We have to work out when to do the deed. My husband is confident that he can kill them and pluck and draw them. I'd rather keep out of the way until they are ready for the oven/freezer but I think that I ought to be involved with the process since it is my fault that they are going to end up on the table. I keep telling myself that if they were not going to end up on my table then they would have been on somebody else's table. I reckon that they are around 10 weeks old. By 14 weeks, I will be able to see for definite which are cockerels and they will be making strangled squawks as they practise crowing. Katie Thear in her poultry books says that she keeps hers until they are 17 weeks to put on a bit more weight then puts them in the freezer. If ours start succeeding in their efforts at crowing then they will have to go before 17 weeks because the neighbours will not be backward in coming forward to complain...!

We'll see.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I've reached another urban smallholding milestone today. I talked my lovely husband into taking me to Henley in Arden market today, knowing full well that there was a poultry auction... I had never been to one and really, I just wanted to know what it was like. My husband suggested that he get us a card to wave at the auctioneer and went off to register us at the office. It was very like I had seen on the television in that I had difficulty understanding what the auctioneer was saying. There were some tall men in front of me so I had trouble seeing what bird was being held up to view and with not understanding the auctioneer very well - it was difficult. I astonished my husband by bidding on a Light Sussex with 12 chicks. I bid £24 for her and her babies and then took fright and stopped. The auctioneer said, "Don't say 'no' madam, say 'yes' ". I suddenly thought that it would just be my luck that all the babies would survive to adulthood and would be all female and then where would I house so many? Or even worse, they would all be male and would have to "go" and then I would be left with one solitary hen. I should have risked it because they were beautiful and sold for £25. Light Sussex point of lay are nearly that each. After a while I bid on 4 Light Sussex "growers" - which astonished my husband even more. He assumed "growers" were male birds destined for the freezer/table. From all the reading I've done about hens, I assumed that term meant birds which were too large to be called chicks but were too small to be pullets/point of lay. So I've now bought 4 birds (for £10) and I don't know whether they are male or female, layers or, gulp, for the freezer.

If they are male, then that is a second milestone passed, the first being to bid at an auction.

The animals have increased in number again: 3 cats, 3 rabbits and 12 assorted poultry.