Soooo, let's talk chickens!
Only, I have no new photos, so you'll have to imagine the rural idyll. Sorry about that.
We now have nine laying hens and a cockerel. The hens are:
- 2 barnvelders
- 1 speckled sussex
- 1 light sussex
- 3 cream legbars
- 1 maran
- 1 exchequer leghorn
We have had a light on an automatic timer in the chicken house since early December, topping their daylight up to fourteen hours a day - much less than that and they stop laying. We gave them a bit of a break in the autumn - egg production gradually ran down from mid-September until they stopped laying completely towards the end of October. So they had a few weeks rest, and then we put them on artificial light.
We are now getting half a dozen eggs a day, a beautiful mixture of different shades of brown, creamy-white and greeny-blue. We are able to sell all we can produce and from that point of view the poultry are virtually paying for themselves.
Also, I have gone a bit mad.
I have bought (at great expense - just have a look at the prices of hatching eggs on eBay!) a dozen light sussex, half a dozen maran and half a dozen cream legbar eggs. I am going to set them off in the incubator this weekend. I have an order from a family friend for half a dozen laying hens; we need some to fatten to eat ourselves; and this autumn we will need to replace seven of the above-listed ladies, as they will have just completed their second year in lay and their egg production will start to drop off a bit*. I am really interested to see what their hatch-rate is, as apparently it can be very variable after posting. Watch this space in about ten days, which is when I will candle them to see if they are fertile.
We are moving the hen house and pen to the top of the garden, in order to place the LARGE shed (eBay. £119. Frodsham. Don't talk about the transporting of it to B, please, it still upsets him) where it currently is. We are also going to move the second chicken-house ('Death Row') to a pen beside it.
For these operations to take place, we need to move the bees.
The bees will be going to lodge with a friend of ours a few miles away. She also has a couple of hives and the plan is that she and I can work the hives in tandem when our respective husbands are away - there is quite a bit of heavy lifting involved in bee-keeping.
This will have the added advantage of reclaiming the top of the garden from the bees - last summer they were so busy, and so prolific, that it became a bit of a no-go area on hot days. We are a bit wary about the idea of Leo launching himself against the hives and getting stung.
So. We will have two nice-sized pens of chickens, one fattening on, and one producing eggs.
Tomorrow. Laying out a vegetable garden in a VERY SMALL SPACE. Please put on your thinking caps.
I may even draw a diagram.
In other news: Leo had his first set of jabs this afternoon. I've just dosed him up with some Calpol and B is cuddling him. I think he's okay; it was quite traumatic, though - I was quite upset that HE was so upset about it all.
Now, I go to do an experimental install of Puppylinux.
* I will be looking to rehome them, for a reasonable price, in the first instance, rather than make them in to soup - so if you fancy a few hens, in late August / early September-time please contact me. Three or four of them will still lay more than enough to keep a family in eggs.