Sunday, 28 April 2013

Chicken Tractor

Here it is, wheeled out in the field today. It is built around a poly tunnel frame and covered with mesh. The coop part is built into one section with pop hole and ladder inside and a small door at the back for egg collecting, and the whole back folds down to take out the wire floor, perches and nest boxes for cleaning. The chickens were a bit wary of it, all except Snowy that is, who did the full tour. The only way we could persuade the birds in was with food! That also included one goose and a pony. The idea is that as the chickens eat the grass it can easily be moved to a fresh patch. Depending on how many chickens are in there, it is moved anytime from 2 days to a week. Ideal for young or bantam chickens as that keeps them safe from Buzzards, Crows, Sparrowhawks maybe even the Heron.

 Snowy was in there a very long time inspecting the perches and the wire floor which will allow the poo to drop through. In the winter it can be covered with lino to keep it warmer.

The geese seem to getting over their broody spell, they were all out in the field today. That might have had something to do with a complete clear out of the 'Barn'. We were just checking for rodents and moved the straw bales, and forked over the entire floor, including the nests so I guess they gave up and accepted there were no eggs to sit on.

Thought I would give the chicks something to play with and put in half a dozen dried leaves. They were scared stiff - literally. All jumped onto the top of the hot plate and stared at them. Eventually 'Boris the Brave' jumped down and took a peck at them and backed off. Tonight they were all pecking them to bits and running around with them like trophies. Keith put some grass in with the food, not so frightened of that but still wary at first. It's going to be quite a challenge introducing them to the big wide world.

The Marans seem to have started laying at last, we had a couple of dark brown eggs today.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Oh, they grow so fast.

So they have gone from these small fluffy yellow balls
 To these great big feathered dinosaurs in four weeks.
 They have scratched most of the wood chips out of the brooder onto the floor and made a real mess. They do love a pea or two, and I have caught them trying to have a dust bath in the wood chips. All that happens is the other two pick the chips out of the feathers and pull out and eat any Down that's there.

Egg count this week -
Chickens - 31
Ducks - 22
Geese - 5

Dotty, the Speckledy, has been laying speckled eggs this week, but it seems the ex-batts, Gladys and Pecky, have given up for now. Rosie the Barnvelder, insists on laying her eggs in the dust bath I made from a plastic potting tray in the barn. Not really the best idea when we have two broody geese in there that 'bark' at us when we get too close and have put off the ducks and chickens from getting anywhere near it.

Zita can be picked up off her nest and put outside for food and water and a wash, but Catherine is quite vicious and Keith has the bruises to prove it, he drags her out hanging onto his coat. He has taken the eggs every day, and the nests have been turned over with the pitchfork but they are still in there. Jones is missing his girls and he looks quite lonesome wandering round the field on his own. He joined me in the chicken shed today while I was cleaning it out. He squeezed through the hole after 'climbing' the ladder outside and then tried to drink from the bucket of water that had disinfectant in it and was not particularly clean by this time either. I had to let him out the back door in the end, there just wasn't room for both of us, and then he made a B-line for the juicy grass that's called a lawn. He did eventually go back to the field with some persuasion.

The ponies dont like Jones at all since he bit Bouncers tail, and avoid him if they can. Pixies eye is fine now unlike her fringe! Both are still moulting but not as much as a few weeks ago and their colours are lovely, much brighter.

Those bothersome rabbits have burrowed under the fence again and dug up some of my potatoes. Had to put tiles and slabs along the outside to weight down the wire skirt. It's partly the chickens fault, they have scratching along the side, probably also trying to get in.

The sheep are happy, still only two lambs, both are loving the sunshine and bouncing around like lambs do.
They are starting to shed their coats, I have been picking up bits of wool from the trees and fences, it's lovely and soft. I hope I find someone to take it and use it when it all comes off.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Another Lamb

This one arrived about 07:00, another Ewe lamb, Peter is going to name her.


These are examples of using depth of field for David's benefit

Marigold is the biggest and also the last.

Rolo is beginning to nibble things whilst the new girl hides in the shade of Mum, it was actually pretty warm here today and the Sheep were panting in their woolly coats. Mars is already starting to Shed his.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Rolo @ 3 days old

This is one tiny Lamb!
She is smaller than the wild Rabbits, at one point today two were sitting next to her but I did not have my Camera handy :(

She is already examining the goings on around the feed trough!


Life on a Sunday

 Catherine, Zita and Jones inspecting the progress on the chicken tractor that Keith is building. Once the wheels are on it can be pulled out onto the grass and moved as the chickens eat the grass section by section. It's where the new chicks will be living for a while when they are old enough to go outside and don't need the hot plate anymore.

 Feeding frenzy mayhem at mealworm time. The ducks get theirs in the water because they float and the chickens cannot get them. The chickens usually get theirs on the paving slabs so it helps to keep the beaks filed down.

 Little Rolo is camera shy and Mum ran away with her.
 Goose in a trug, supported by an old tyre its just right for a quick wash when mowing the lawn.
Now Keith has always liked Toyah Wilcox but this is a bit too far! Actually, Pixie had a weepy eye and we thought it may have been some mud on her fringe or just the fringe itself in all the wind getting in her eyes. Keiths excellent barber skills and a few washes with salt water and she's fine now. Not so sure about the fringe though!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Two months or eight weeks of eggs equals...

The egg count for this week is -
Chickens - 36
Ducks - 16
Geese - 8
The geese lay every other day and there is only two of them, so they are doing OK. The ducks are having a bit of a break, although all five girls laid today. The chickens are coming along nicely, seven eggs today, only the three grey are not laying. Dotty is only a pullet so she has an excuse, the  Marans laid one egg each when they arrived and that was it. Naughty chickens!

Since we bought all the new chickens on 23-24 February, we have had 148 chicken eggs and 142 duck eggs. That is over a period of eight weeks (or two months). We have not eaten all of those, some I have sold, after all, the birds do need to try and support themselves! Most of the eggs end up in cakes, omelets, scrambled, or sandwiches. I had such a lot at the beginning of the week, I cracked them into bags and froze them, I will see how they come out later. I had a health check last week and my cholesterol levels were brilliant so much for the 'don't eat eggs'.

 The chicks are getting bigger. This was them at just over two weeks. We have moved them into the conservatory where they can watch whats going on outside. The first time they saw the ponies through the window, they all stood bolt upright, they will have a shock when they get closer. They are very good at flying and love peas, they play 'chase me' with them even if they all have one each in their beaks.

Just a couple of presents. I loved these signs, and they are goose eggs in the wire chicken as I dont have an egg box big enough to hold them.

Rolo is a girl!

Rolo has survived her first night and day.
After a quick inspection whilst Mum was eating her Carrots and SupaBeet I gave Rolo a check over He is a She.

I am absolutely certain the other two are too fat not to be expecting as well now.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Lamb Lambed!

They are probably not fully a year old yet around lunchtime today this happened!

Mum was probably the thinnest of the three Ewe Lambs we have!
So there might be more to come.

We had been told they had been with a Ram last Autumn but she really didn't look (to an inexperienced me anyway) to be pregnant!

We have called Him...... it! ......not sure yet...... Rolo.

He was still wet when I first saw him and if I had not been delayed with work I may even have been out doing my rounds at lunch time as  he was being born Mum was giving him a good wash.


So is this one on the right next? She is the roundest of them all!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Veg Beds.

Quick egg count for the week -
Chickens - 31
Ducks - 20
Geese - 7
The chickens are starting to lay on a regular basis now. I have had a sign outside to sell the spare eggs but the rain keeps washing it clean.
I made a quiche the other night with one goose egg. Not being any good at making pastry, I bought the case from Tesco's and made up the eggy bit adding a bit of milk, not as much as in the recipes, and chicken, peppers, onion and carrot. It was very nice, the one egg filled it to the top, or perhaps I added too much chicken, and the egg was well set. I impressed myself!
Digging over the veg beds on Thursday, now the rabbit problem seems to be sorted out, and one of the wooden sides collapsed. I knew they were a bit bendy but didn't realise they were that rotten. Quick phone call to ETC, the local wood supplier yesterday and that afternoon nine bits of 4.8metre wood arrived. The boys had helped dig the soil up into the middle and take out all the old wood, most of which just disintegrated, and helped unload the wood and take it down the garden. Today, Keith and the rest of us put it all together, Keith doing the cutting and drilling of holes for the screws, and the boys pulling all the mud back.
We managed to get it all done before the rain set in but there were a few showers and we did get a bit damp. It was annoying that I had planted my onion sets, I will have to replant them all tomorrow or Monday.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Quite a lot of eggs.

Today we have had two goose eggs, four duck eggs and seven chicken eggs, that's quite a haul. We had omelet tonight for tea.
Alden has been making friends with 'Jones'. He loves the birds, fascinated by the geese, I suppose its because he has never been so close to such big birds before. He is such a friendly placid goose, the girls are not so, out of the two Catherine is the friendliest. Getting used to the dog, they only hiss at her now instead of the full honk, hiss and wings thing.

All the geese seem much more settled now their mate is with them. They have been happily dozing on the grass while he keeps watch. Jones did get one of the chickens, Snowy, by the chest feathers when she tried to eat his food, didn't stop her trying again later!
The chicks are growing fast, two of them have tails now and they can 'fly' so must keep the lid down.
The rabbits have been in the veg plot again, don't know where they are getting in. Keith replaced all the fencing in the big fence off so must be squeezing underneath somewhere. Have put extra chicken wire round the field side of the fence, with a skirt to discourage any digging under and help block any up any uneven parts at the bottom. Peter was helping and Jones came along to inspect what we were doing. I suspect the two of them were saying what a terrible job I was making of it.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Goosey, Goosey, Gander!

Today we collected another goose, a gander, that we are fostering. He is the brother, and now returned mate, of Catherine and Zita. We have named him 'Jones'. When he first arrived there was no big 'Hello, where have you been, we've missed you.', it was more of an 'Oh, you're back then.'. He seems quite contented to be back with his girls, he has been for swim on the pond with them, had a good go at the grass, seen off the Moorhens and chickens, waved his wings a lot at Pixie when she plodded over to see him, peered through the fence at the sheep, the ducks have kept their distance, and had a good old chat with me, he is a chatterbox.

 Keith has been building a 'chicken tractor' which is a coop and run on wheels that can be moved over the grass as its eaten or worn. He made it from a poly tunnel frame and has made the door end and the floor of the coop which is wire mesh so the 'poo' can fall straight through, and removable for cleaning. Then there will be nest boxes and perches, and a ramp for the chickens to walk up, and this should be finished for the chicks to go into in five or six weeks time. They are having a lovely time in the brooder. Occasionally a piece of the wood chip falls out the side and they all go and look down at it and chirp, it's just like babies who have thrown their toys out the pram.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Chicks One week old

It was time for them to move into larger accommodation and also have some bedding as they need to learn to scratch. So the plastic crate has been replaced with a proper brooder cage courtesy of Ebay.

Five minutes in the workshop and viola they also now have a 'practice' perch. To date only Boris has regularly hopped on top of the 'Electric Hen' so maybe the other two will take to the perch instead.

There is still a marked difference between the three birds especially in relation to feathering of the wings the youngest bird however does seem to be developing more slowly than the other two.

The also have Combs appearing although being Orpingtons the Combs will be quite small.

Egg count

The weeks egg count is as follows -
Chickens - 19
Ducks - 19
Geese - 3
The chickens are catching up and I'm sure the ducks are laying down by the pond in nests and the crows are getting them. I have found a few egg shells down there. Catherine the Goose is also nesting by the pond but her nest is a mess of twigs, sticks, dead grass and leaves, and the eggs are securely hidden underneath.
                                        Yep! That's a goose nest, can't see the egg can you?

Thursday, 4 April 2013


Now the greenhouse has been moved, it is now up and running. I have in there at the moment, runner beans, broad beans, peas, celery, tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and 'cut'n'come again' lettuce. The beans, peas and lettuce are all sprouting, and it is nice and warm. I also have some strawberry plants in there in the hope that I will have some early strawberries but they aren't doing much yet.

Keith bought me these signs for Easter. They are painted on reclaimed Welsh slate. I also have one for advertising my eggs for sale.
I planted the onion sets outside in the Veggie Patch this afternoon. Some of them were starting to sprout in the bag, so I dug over yesterday (there's plenty of good manure on there now), and planted today. Hope they will grow, it was snowing again for a bit this morning. Need to get the potatoes in but the ground is still a bit too wet, I might have to put them in bags to grow.
The chicks are very noisy today and jumping on top of their hot plate. They are also very messy which means a daily clean out. The older chick, Boris, has the quills of his wing feathers showing, whereas the other two are only just appearing. They are growing daily.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Less one.

General Lee passed away today. She had been in our 'Intensive Care' cage in the bathroom for the last few days, not eating, drinking or even able to stand. I managed to get some water down her with my baby syringe but she just faded away, almost certainly old age. She was after all one of my original ex-batts so may have been around four years old. Pecky will miss her muscle to back her up as top hen, and Gladys will miss her friend.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Eating and Cheeeeeeeppppppping !

It is not easy taking picture of these little things as they are darting about all over the place!

All three are eating well and the younger two are much less wobbly than they were yesterday.

Tomorrow we will have to clean their anti slip rubber mat (intended to prevent them suffering splayed legs) as it is already looking a bit messy so they will have a temporary tea towel to poop on.