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

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I still have just the one new hen laying but last week and this week too, the Warrens have laid us two eggs. It is so good to have eggs again. And I have sold a dozen (shared between three friends) so while not exactly paying their way, the hens are making some effort towards it. I am just amazed at how much the new hens are eating. They are teenagers so I suppose, like human teenagers, they have hollow legs. They are not scared of me now and run towards me for they have learned that I often come with a little bit of bread in my hand and my, how they love bread. I am hoping to train them with this so that when I first let them out of their run I'll be able to bribe them back in. Not yet, though.

It feels like a long week at school. Only one week into term but with being out of routine, it has felt longer. One more week and then it is a long weekend with the Bank Holiday. If the weather doesn't turn wet, we'll be hoping to spend time at the allotment. It is starting to look quite good and we are on top of at least some of the weeds. The seeds are coming up nicely. The onions are looking good and the potatoes are all planted. My husband used his favourite toy, a little Mantis rotovator with an attachment for making the deep drills needed for planting potatoes. He enjoyed that! And it took some of the backbreaking work out of planting potatoes. When one is short on free time, a few gadgets can help. This one certainly does and it is not heavy to use. Another favourite is the azada that I bought him for his birthday last year. It is a very heavy kind of hoe type implement - a long and carefully weighted handle with a flat blade set at right angles to the handle. Great for digging and for clearing ground. They come in various sizes but this one is the biggest. I like my swoe which is a long handled hoe with a narrow blade that will cut on the three sides. The blade looks a bit like a golf putter and it is excellent for hoeing between rows of plants that are quite close together or for cutting the tops off weeds when there isn't time to remove them properly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

My new hens are settling in well and we are really enjoying the eggs from the one that is laying. The new run is finished so they have lots of space now. They are not quite so scared of us now, which is nice.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I have news!! We have 7 new hens bringing our total to 14. People I talk to always ask if we are practically swimming in eggs. However, Mrs Speckledy is down to about one egg every 5 days and the other old folk are not laying at all. My husband has built a new run out of scrap wood from a skip and chicken wire that we bought in a big roll (cheaper per metre that way) a couple of years ago. The 2 little silkie bantams have a rabbit hutch with the run used by the cockerels and the Warrens and Mrs Speckledy have moved into the 5 hen ark with a 10 hen run. The 7 new girls have moved into the 10 hen ark and will have a 10 hen sized run when we've been to the diy shop to buy the last thing needed as my husband's huge stock of "bits" under the stairs has everything but the very last thing needed to finish the run. : )

I went to a different place to buy my hens this time and it is much closer which means not only less petrol used but a shorter and less stressful journey for the hens. A friend told me about this place and I rang them up and talked to them and decided to try them out. They had their young hens all together in a big shed so as tey've all been living together quite happily, I decided on a mixed bag although I had gone with the intention of more Warrens. Their hens are all hybrids and they had 7 different types. Maybe I should have had one of each. I came home with 3 Warrens, 2 Bluebells, 1 black Sussex and 1 Coral. We could not decide on 6 or 8 hens so we bought 7. The Coral is slightly older than the others so she is laying. The others probably won't lay for another month - but you never know.... It is wonderful to have fresh eggs again! I have a queue of people at work who will be delighted to have fresh eggs again. My family are all in the queue too which is a good thing because the one time we might get inundated with eggs is in the school summer holidays. However, you can freeze beaten eggs in plastic bags for baking sessions in the winter. We've done that in the past and found it worked well.