Wednesday, 29 April 2009

"Lavender's Brood ...dilly dilly ..."

Lavender, my beautiful blue/grey Cochin hen, has been broody since 9th April, when I promptly stuck a selection of eggs underneath her along with one of her own. Four Dorking eggs and two Buff Orpington eggs have remained and should hatch any time now.

As I was so desperately unsure of what I was doing the first time round when I had chicks, I am determined to make it work this time round and make sure that all the little chicks survive. I went up to our local country store yesterday and purchased a maternity ward for Lavender so as to separate her from the others. It's just a basic run about a couple of feet long and one foot wide and an enclosed bedroom area where she can be private and sit on her eggs.

She took to it very well and the transfer was a lot easier than expected from the main hutch into her new quarters. She was a little confused at first and pecked at the wire to the run area for a bit. I calmed her down by placing my jacket over the run and she went inside to discover her eggs. There was minimal pecking on the wooden sides and then silence. I opened the door to the hutch five minutes later and she was all spread out over her eggs as normal ...smashing!!!

I was worried that I was really going to stress out a pregnant Mother to be, which from my own experience is not a wise thing to do! but, It all went swimmingly in the end and she seems right at home now.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Bubs and I took our places either side of the stable door to let the Dorking hen's and their Cockerel out as we do every morning. I always open the top door first so that they can fly up and sit on the door to view the cobbled courtyard and decide exactly where they would like to place themselves. Each hen gets a round of applause from the pair of us as they take flight and land, a very good way of teaching clapping in it's true context!

We played out our normal scenario and watched as all three hens flew up and then down. We stood and waited for Maestro to make his grand appearance but it never came. I peaked over the top of the door to find an empty stable and no Maestro at all.

Confused, I looked around the stable yard and then saw the feathers. The trail led off through the large iron gates, across the driveway and up the bank towards the road. I followed the feathery path and it disintegrated into leafy woodland with no further evidence of Maestro at all.

I returned to the stable yard to find Burt looking rather pleased with himself. He had already filled Maestro's shoes and was frantically clucking to the girls over the old lettuce I had scattered about for them. It's a trait, I've noticed, that all Cockerel's have. They will inform their ladies of any food or tasty bugs they've found and will wait for them to tuck in before they finish the leftovers.

Burt was the next one in line for the pot but due to Maestro's demise, he has now secured his place at the farm. Looks like the best cockerel won!

"Come on Girls ... Chop Chop!!!"

Sunday saw the first real taste of Summer for me. We had a beautiful eggy breakfast thanks to our very considerate hens which, gave us the oomph to attempt the first pig walk.

The bog boys came up and joined us for breakfast where we sat and discussed tactics to control excited and skittish piggies. We delayed their morning feed to give ourselves every chance of them sticking close to us and decided on a triangular formation so as to keep tabs on the slackers at the back!

The route around the farm was about half a mile and all went fairly well. At one point they got a little bold and decided to head off as a herd on their own but were smartly brought back to heal with a frantic shake of the pig nut bucket!

They like to nibble at your heals as you walk along and when they cross your path its like walking into a wall! they are so muscly and stand strong.

We have decided to make it a weekly event so they stay nice and trim and don't get all chubby. Mangalitza's have a tendency to put on a lot of fat if their diet is not controlled so we are very care full about what they are given. They don't get given all the scraps from the kitchen and just have a jolly good rootle about every day after their pig nut feed every morning, to find nice grubs, snails and worms. With the exception of a hot cross bun each on Easter Sunday, they have to find their own food which is plentiful if you have a good root about!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Easter Eggs

As April trickles on, the chickens are churning out eggs at an alarming rate! It's such a treat to always be fully stocked these days instead of begrudgingly having to pick up half a dozen from the local shop.

The newly recruited Dorking hens are very much settled in with their Cockerell Maestro.
I hadn't intended to name him as he is bound for the pot, but young Josh thought it suited him and so, it has stuck.
The eggs from these hens should be white but for some unknown reason, one of them produces a bluey-greeny colour which is lovely but it does imply a cross in the breed somewhere and not a pure bloodline as originally thought. I guess we shall find out exactly what lurkes in the breed when we get a few chicks!