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Thursday, 3 October 2013

My chickens

Deb (Paperturtle) recently commented on a post that she didn't know that I had chickens and she hoped that one day I would do a blog post about them. So Deb, here is a post all about my chickens just for you! (And of course, anyone else who is interested!)

Way back in 2009 we decided that we would keep chickens. The children had wanted us to do so for years as my sister-in-law has always kept them and they loved collecting the eggs when we were staying down there. I held out for years as I didn't want all the hassle of cleaning them out. However, I came across a company called Omlet who produce an excellent chicken house know as the Eglu which is very easy to keep clean. As our garden is large enough for a run I gave in and our first two chickens turned up on Penny's 18th birthday.
The run with our first two chickens
Ben and Penny named the first two chickens Patty and Selma after Marge's two sisters in the Simpsons.
The ginger chicken is Selma, the black one Patty
When you first get chickens they are at 'point of lay' which means that they are not actually laying. We got our first egg about 6 weeks after first getting them. You see their combs getting redder and standing up more as they are ready to lay. Our first egg was tiny!
This is it compared with a shop bought one!
Once they got into production though, they were good layers - we got about 5 eggs a week from each of them. We regularly moved their run around the garden so that they had new grass to peck at, but I felt that they didn't really have enough room to roam around. I wasn't happy about letting them loose in the garden as our garden isn't completely secure and they could have got out. I then came up with a brilliant idea!

The children had a trampoline which we had put onto woodchip to make it safer for them. They no longer used the trampoline so I decided that we would fence off that area, put the run into that and then we could let the chickens out in there for more room to roam. They loved it!
Although there was no grass, they loved pecking through the woodchips into the earth and finding insects and shoots to eat. It also meant that we could go in with them and they loved to follow us around - they were very friendly.

However, when Hugh, Penny and I were on holiday in  June 2011 we had a phone call from Ben to say that unfortunately Patty had died. She had not been laying well before we went on holiday and Ben had gone to feed them and found her dead in the run. We were quite sad as we had become attached to her. Selma didn't seem bothered though! She continued to potter around in the run and lay eggs for us, although not as prolifically as she had been. However, just before we were to go on holiday in May 2012 she became very weak and unable to stand. We were going to take her to the vets, but before we could do that she died overnight. We went on holiday and came back to a very empty run. I said that we wouldn't get any more chickens. Although they were fun to keep and I loved the eggs, I didn't like having to clean them out every week!

Well, of course, that didn't last! Penny and Hugh went on and on about how we should get some more! So, in June 2012 we welcomed Coffee and Walnut to the family!
Here they are when we first got them - notice that they don't have very large or red combs
Now, we thought that Patty and Selma had been fun, but these two have real personalities and have us in stitches with their antics! They follow you around when you are in the run, peck at your shoe laces, jump up to try and see if you have any leaves or special treats for them and are generally great fun to be with. Coffee is the lighter coloured one and Walnut the darker one - named by Penny after our favourite cake!

They started laying after about 6 weeks and are brilliant layers. We get 6 eggs a week from each of them - even through the winter they laid about 4 a week each which is really good as production should drop off! The only problem we have had is that at the end of this summer Coffee decided to get broody. This was a problem as when they are broody they don't lay. We had to move her into a 'broody coop' which was a small cage away from Walnut where she couldn't get comfy to nest. We had to take her off the layers pellets and after a week she came out of broodiness and we were able to put her back with Walnut. It was so lovely when we let her into the run again - she ran around flapping her wings and singing! Walnut was happier too! It took another three weeks for her to start laying again, but now she is back to full strength.
And here they are in a photo taken at the weekend. Coffee is at the back of the photo.
At the moment I have 18 eggs in the fridge with both chickens laying every day! I definitely need to do some baking and I think offer a box of eggs to my neighbour! Deb - if you lived closer I would definitely be sharing eggs with you!

12 comments:

Missus Wookie said...

How fun - I have a couple of friends who have or want to have chickens. Fencing off the old trampoline area sounds so sensible!

Sandra said...

Sounds like you're all happy :) oh I'd love chickens but we have rather a few too many foxes visiting and I'd really worry about them. But my MIL has a friend in her Art class that shares out the eggs her chickens lays and I must say they're the best, without doubt :)

Sarah said...

Aww, Coffee and Walnut look gorgeous!! I'd love to keep chickens but sadly our garden is too small and we have foxes around here so I'd never relax in case they were in danger!! Enjoy those eggs!! xx

Alison said...

I loved this post, Becky...so interesting and your chickens sound like fun!
Alison xx

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

Hooray! Thanks so much for doing this post, Becky. :o) I loved reading about your chickens, and it's fun to know that they are such entertaining pets for you. I don't know about the UK, but here in the US our store-bought eggs taste so different from free-range eggs we can buy (on occasion) from the farmer's market. Free-range are just so much more flavorful and brightly colored yokes.

I would love to have enough property to keep chickens, but in my city there are strict requirements for keeping "livestock" in town. Although, your chicken run seems quite compact and manageable.

So fun! And I am officially jealous of (but happy for) you and your cute little chickens. :o) Thanks for doing this post - made my morning!

Abi said...

Such an interesting post! My family would love to keep chickens but both my mum and I really can't stand the flapping or the feathers! call us wimps!

Carrie Rosalind said...

How fun! I didn't realize you had chickens either, but they are so cute! My mom talks about getting chickens all the time, and I hope she does someday because I want her to share the eggs with me! :)

Also - interesting that your store-bought eggs are stamped with I assume an expiry date?

Melissa said...

Enjoyed reading about your chickens - how wonderful to have fresh eggs every day!

Karen said...

My grandfather raised chickens, and this brought back lots of memories. I made a scrapbook page about it last year, and the photos of me holding one of the chickens made me laugh. Not sure how I'd feel about it today. I'd love to have fresh eggs every day!

Sian said...

Sssh..don't tell anyone: I'm a little bit frightened of chickens! But yours look very friendly: I think I'd be just fine with them :) A really interesting post Becky.

Gail said...

Well, that was a very interesting read. I don't think I'd be good at keeping chickens although I do love farm fresh eggs. We've got a law in our area about keeping "livestock" and with coyotes around it wouldn't be good.

alexa said...

Well, this has been fascinating to read and I do love that photo of Coffee and Walnut ( such great names!). I have always loved the sound of hens - reminds me of the farm where my Mum was brought up,