Saturday, 25 April 2015

April, a Good Time for New Chickens

So, we are still keeping chickens and have been for 6 years now.

At the beginning of this year we had 2 Black Rock type chickens, Frodo and Fudge. Fudge hasn't laid an egg for over 2 years and Frodo stopped before Christmas, but thankfully has now started laying again.

Fudge is the one with the golden neck behind Frodo

We've had Fudge 3 years now, and Frodo, 2.  We bought them each as a pair of chickens. Fudge came with a Bluebell called Smokie and Frodo came with a Columbian Blacktail called Bilbo, neither of whom lasted very long. Smokie convulsed and died dramatically before our eyes and Bilbo also seemed to have a heart attack.

Last Saturday morning we decided to buy some more chickens and went to Surrey Poultry in Ockham where all the chickens, including the pullets, were free ranging. We decided on three young girls, 16 to 18 weeks old, so not quite ready to lay.

Cindy seems to be the eldest of the three as her comb is pinker and better developed. She is a Speckledy, so is a cross between a Cuckoo Maran and a Rhode Island Red.

Stella, our Amber Star is very tame. This breed is based on the Rhode Island White, or Red, or maybe both. It's hard to find out on-line.

Last but not least is Meg the Blacktail, with Rhode Island Red and Light Sussex in her parentage.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Spring Chickens

We decided to buy a couple more chickens last weekend as we're only getting one good egg from our other two at the moment. Fudge hardly ever lays an egg with a decent shell, so it is being eaten before we can get to it.

We've tried giving her extra oyster shell, but that hasn't worked.  I'm wondering if it could be due to a combination of lack of sunshine and her dark feathers not allowing her to make enough vitamin D to absorb the calcium in her diet. On the advice of the woman we bought the chickens from we're going to try calcium tablets with vitamin D to see if that helps. She suggested we mix one into the feed every other day for a week.

There were lots of chickens to choose from:

Here are the two we chose, Bilbo and Frodo - yes, I know Bilbo and Frodo Baggins are male, but hobbits aren't human.

Here is Bilbo the hen. She is a Rhode Island Red Blacktail (i.e. crossed with Light Sussex)

Frodo is the one in the foreground. She's a Black Rock type, but darker than Fudge.
While we were at the farm we saw this handsome Buff Orpington cockerel:

When our chickens were in the cat basket he seemed to take quite an interest in them, walking around and around the basket.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Spring Is On Her Way

So, March is upon us and Spring is already on her way. I thought it was high time I let you know what is going on in our garden.

Spring flowers are beginning to bloom:

such as primrose

and Lenten rose.

I spotted this iris growing through some white heather

and a cyclamen peeking through some straw or dead grass.

Higher up the garden I found this cheerful splash of yellow crocus

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago when we had a lovely sunny day and a number of honey bees felt it was warm enough to venture forth. This one was checking for pollen on this daisy.

That day, I also spotted this robin trilling away in the hedge

Monday, 14 January 2013

Snow in the Garden

We only had a little snow when we woke up this morning, just a dusting really, but the lower temperatures meant the chickens' water was frozen so the container needed refilling. 

Hubby also thought he ought to check the bees were OK because it's important that the exit holes in their mouse guards don't get clogged with snow.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Feeding the Birds and the Bees

Last weekend it was pretty mild and the bees were flying and even gathering pollen, we think from a neighbour's Winter-flowering jasmine. You can see the bee on the landing board, to the right, has lots of yellow pollen stored on her leg.

Hubby let the chickens out of their ark for a bit of a run round and a dust bath.

This weekend it has turned much colder and there is the forecast of snow on the way, so we have made sure the bees have plenty of fondant. The colder the weather is, the more vigorously they vibrate their wings as well as huddle together, so they'll be needing plenty of energy.

This was a slab of fondant hubby had put in the hive a week or so ago. You can see the bees have made quite a big hole in the middle already.

The bees were looking busy just below the crown board.

 In the second hive they were even busier and they had a lot less fondant left.

The birds will also be needing more food to help them keep warm, so I topped up the bird feeders this afternoon.

We also stocked up a bit on dried fruit, nuts and pulses etc from the health food shop today after buying a new sack of chicken feed, so hopefully we're prepared for any inclement weather.

I am hoping we won't get too much snow, though, and if we do, that they'll keep the roads clear. It's no fun walking down a hill on compacted snow.