Friday, October 02, 2009
This is so funny, but really not if you know what I mean
As MrNoo was leaving one night last week he found a pigeon on my porch step, he caught it (it didn’t put up much of a fight) and then brought it in where we put it in the garden in an old dog crate, gave it some corn and maize that I have for the chickens and some water…..
The next morning it was looking a bit poorly but not injured as such, so I took its ring number, googled “racing pigeon numbers” (as you do!) and consequently found its owner by the next morning. Apparently the owners have an obligation to collect within 2 days if you find one, so he arranged to come up and collect it last Friday morning. – He was driving around an hour to get here (wow the pigeon did good???? – or not depending on your point of view?!)
Anyway by Friday morning the pigeon has certainly perked up, there seemed to be some damage to its flight feathers on one wing, but the wing wasn’t broken at all and obviously the rest had done him good. Its owner arrived, and MrNoo took the little carrier box of him whilst he used my “facilities” . Mr Noo went out – slightly opened the crate door, wriggled in a put his hand out………..
and the pigeon ducked straight under him and out between his legs and the side of the crate ……….and off into the distance as fast as you like.
Seriously, I have never been so embarrassed in all my life. The owner was extremely generous saying that it could happen to anyone (and in fact as he hadn’t been flying his pigeons lately it was very likely it was an escapee anyway so somewhat practised in the art) but I was dying!! (apparently I blushed so hard I was almost purple)
In my minds eye I can still see the whole scene…… I am somewhat seeing the funny side now, but that poor owner……..
If you ever read a knitting blog Mr Pigeon owner then I can only say again how sorry I am (even if it is, just a tiny bit funny!)
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Well It’s been a while hasn’t it ? How are you all? Everything here is fine. I still have 4 chicks – it has turned out that they are 1 male and 3 female, I would’ve liked 2 of each as I wanted a couple for the table, but I will probably keep the cockerel through the winter (i.e. he gets up later in the winter and I can deal with the crowing!) so he can become a father, and then maybe roast him next Spring!!
In knitting news…… I have started a Domino Square Cardigan, which is a drops pattern originally done in multi coloured sock yarn, but as one who is not overly comfortable in bright colours I have gone for a more subtle version in Grey!
There is probably so much to tell you as I haven’t written properly for so long – but you know when you sit down to do something and then can’t quite remember ….. well that’s about where I am now! So I am sure I will fill in the blanks as Autumn joins us and I get more time to write.
In the meantime please spare a thought for my sister this Sunday, as she is running 10 kilometres for Cancer Research UK. I think she’s so amazing for doing this – after all 10k is a serious amount of running (she hopes to finish in around 1 hour 15 I think). So positive thoughts everyone, and hope for a nice cool day!
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Well those that have known me for more than a few years, will know that Ghana is a place that has a special little nook in my heart. It was the first place in Africa that I visited (due to a boyfriend that lived and worked out there!!) and it ignited a fire in me that only the sights and smells of Africa can douse.
Well MSF-Pete has finally knitted enough of his scarf to get round his neck – and he has achieved this amazing feat of craft-work whilst in Ghana!
The background to the story is here, but basically a knitter called Steve promised $500 to MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières– the knitters charity!!!) when the scarf was long enough to wear! (There is one expletive in this little audio as the heat of the moment and the over exuberance of the song get to Pete, so please be aware before you play this in front of the kids!)
I reckon Pete deserves a fiver for this accomplishment – don’t you? (errr that would be the knitting, not the song!) If you think so too, visit the P/hop site where the background story is and there is a justgiving widget there. i will also put the widget on my blog soon!
Friday, July 24, 2009
I have used Plaxo for years…. It’s a great little toolbar that sits in Outlook (or a multitude of other email clients) and syncs your address book and calendar. Therefore if I update a contact’s details on my laptop, next time I log into outlook on my PC it automatically syncs the contact’s details there and i am up to date. Ditto for Calendar entries (which, when your life is dominated by tax return dates is a handy feature!!) and to-do lists and notes.
But……. don’t get too excited! – Plaxo have suddenly decided that this toolbar should no longer be free (fair enough I suppose) but they want to charge £30 odd per year. Well I really don’t have that many contacts IYKWIM ! LOL. I really don’t get this “per year” pricing for software, surely you should buy it and that’s that. If they upgrade it and you want to buy the update then again, all well and good, but where has the “per year” stuff come in?
Anyway, before I go off on too much of a tangent, does anyone know of any little widgets or gizmos that do anything similar? Ideally for contacts and calendar items? Any suggestions would be wildly appreciated!!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Well how quickly news changes. My poor little chicklies have been sick. :( One died last week (the lightest of the brown ones, and the prettiest IMHO) and the rest have all been ill. They have coccidiosis. It’s a parasite which particularly attacks young birds and seems to do it extremely quickly! After the death I took another chick to the vet (something I always said I wouldn’t really do, due to the price, but with 4 chicks I thought it would be worth it) They confirmed my diagnosis (I think in all honesty I knew more than they did) but could only order me the medicine needed in 1 litre quantities…….. which cost £80, on top of the £40 consultation fee, and I only needed 10ml *shock*. Not only that, but they wouldn’t actually let me take the 1 litre (which may at least have softened the blow as it has a long shelf life and I could have kept it for further instances) I could only have the prescribed amount – 10ml! I phoned other vets and they all said the same thing. So now I was in quite a quandry, I had spent £40 on basically nothing but really couldn’t justify a further £80 on 4 chicks. To cut a long story short, i did eventually get some, travelling half way round the South East of England to get it, and as I type the 4 remaining chicks are still alive and eating and drinking well. I don’t think we’re out of the woods by any stretch yet, but the outlook certainly seems more positive than it did on Friday.
In other news – I made my first meal completely of home harvested food on Saturday:-
This became an omelette with onion, courgette and new potatoes………mmmmmm
There isn’t really much knitting news – Sahara was finished and looks lovely, but I’m going to undo it and add an inch or two the body length. I am currently knitting a fairly boring v-neck in Sirdar Just Bamboo, just because it needed using and it’s quite nice to knit with in the warmer weather. I also signed up for the Socktopus Mystery Shawl Knit-along, but having rummaged my stash I don’t have anything in a strong enough colour for it – I feel shawls, stoles and scarves should be made in contrast to your normal attire and as I usually wear very earthy colours I think a strong colour would be better for this. I also think the pattern is calling for something with a touch of silk or something sheeny………….
With that in mind I have decided to go to the 100 Club in oxford Street for the lunchtime gig on Thursday (which is good cos it’s one of my favourite bands and only £7 entry which isn’t bad) and then on to maybe John Lewis (does anyone know if JL in Oxford St sell Yarn???!!!) and/or Iknit and maybe even Socktopus as well if I have time to travel that far out of town. If anyone in the London area fancies joining in…………………..??!!! ;)
Right I’m off to clean out the chickens – again! Have a good week all. xx
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Few more photos:- I think I have 2 cockerels and 3 hens, but it’s difficult to tell. Two are definitely bigger, but it could just be the way the genetics worked as they are all “mongrels” !!
There may be knitting news next time? – or maybe not!!
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Our main reason for choosing Abersoch again was the jazz festival – 2 of my favourite bands were there – Jim Mcintosh and the Jazzaholics (no weblink cos he still hasn’t done a webpage) and TJ Johnson. Jim’s band was a riot! – They play together with such enthusiasm and energy – James Evans is supreme on the clarinet (especially this year’s addition of an electric box of tricks to electrify said clarinet – fantastic) Jim himself on banjo, Baby Jools and Annie Hawkins make up the back row , and Mike Pointon and Denny Illet on trombone and trumpet completing the line-up. Jim also entertained and amused during Saturday afternoon with his “party” – a kind of Jam Session with skits! – Here follows a photograph – not for the faint hearted - of Adrian Cox, dressed as a naughty nurse having a lot of trouble playing his clarinet over his rather over enthusiastic bust!
Also “Baby Jools” and Jack Cotterill doing a drum duet as Laurel and Hardy – On one drum kit!! – now that really rocked! (Photo hopefully to be inserted here if I get permission from owner)
I should also mention the wonderful TJ Johnson band, slightly less along the mainstream Jazz lines but more of a rhythm and blues band in general, but delighting the crowd with everything from gospel to country as well. TJ’s voice seems to get better and better, he can melt your heart with a gentle rendition of “Just a closer walk with Thee” and a few minutes later have you laughing out loud (and dancing) to Willie the Weeper. Along with Adrian Cox on the sax (and the first time I have seen – the guitar!), and Jamie Lawrence on Double Bass and Jules Fenton on drums this band is a must-see for those who aren’t into trad jazz as such but like a good all round band that will have you dancing for sure.
For anyone fancying a weekend Jazz festival – Abersoch is a great one to try. The location is truly beautiful, the festival itself is chilled and relaxed with plenty of time to enjoy your surroundings, not like some others when you find yourself at a slow trot moving between one venue and another.(!!) Many young musicians are booked as guests which is fabulous to see. This year Amy Roberts, Jamie Brownfield, Jack Cotterill, and Kate Browning all guested with most of the other bands. – Jonny Boston was also there as a guest although I don’t know if he can be classed as “young” any more???!!! (tee hee!) ;-) , although I have to admit he certainly rocks with the best of them, and his version (during Jim’s party I think ) of Running Wild was awesome! The younger musicians bring a new dimension to the shores of trad jazz, and stroll gently off the beaten track now and again, with an energy and vibrancy that has you clapping your hands and stamping your feet!
So with great thanks to Jan and all the organisers who work so hard for the whole year to get the festival together, and my dear friends in the bands – you all gave us a cracking weekend and we loved each and every minute of it.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
From this at 21:33
All taken looking out from the observatory at Uwchmynydd (Don’t ask me how you pronounce that!) Looking West(ish) across the sea! Not great photos as my camera struggled, but they give you the idea!
We’re home now all safe and sound. Spot has been collected from the kennels and is enjoying being home, and the chicks have grown loads in the week I’ve been gone. Lots of work to catch up on, but will try and do photos soon.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
Yep I completed 5km in 37 mins. Not too shabby to say that I hadn’t trained. We started the race in hail stones, jogged our way through that, sun and drizzle again at the end, but it was actually so much better that running in the heat we had last year. My sister did amazingly well and ran all the way to complete it I think she said 4 mins 12 quicker than me (she had the stop watch so did lap splits) . I am so proud of her running all the way – I had a long walk in the middle stretch! – It was a good start for Bex though as she has also committed to doing the 10k for Cancer Research in September, I am totally in awe of her, a link for her sponsor page is here for any family/friends that are equally in awe……. .10km is at best an hour of jogging, ….. I can’t even think about that!. I’d also like to say a special thanks to Sue, who although she wasn’t running this year, still showed up to support us, and given the weather, that was probably braver than us running (at least we kept warm!) It made so much difference to see a smiling face half way, and again towards the end…….it gave bex and I both the encouragement we needed.
So thank you to all who sponsored me, I hope I did you proud……… you should know that I am honoured that you chose me to sponsor. I know that there are many many women who do this 5km every year and it really is an incredible show of will and determination to see them all ages, all levels of fitness, push themselves to finish that 5km.
My Justgiving widget will soon miraculously turn to point to the p/hop page…… just to keep you on your toes!! – I will explain that more fully when I change it.
In the meantime, I’m off for my annual Jazz pilgrimage on Friday for a week, so this will probably be my last blog before that. I may try to blog from my phone while we’re away, so if you’re after a bit of fun, music and jiving, keep your eyes peeled! ;-)
Saturday, June 06, 2009
The world works in a set pattern, things are born, things die……… Two weekends ago I hatched 5 chicks, and this week Primrose died…….. She’d been pretty quiet for a while. We treated for sour crop as that seemed the most likely, but although the symptoms from that seemed to go she didn’t pick up again. She just went to sleep on Thursday afternoon, so I am happy that it was a peaceful journey to her rest……… – Perhaps she just didn’t fancy the competition from the younger set !?
(It’s my race for life tomorrow – and the weather forecast is Heavy Rain – oh joy!! – Think of me if it rains won’t you!!! ;) )
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
There was no way I could keep away once she brought them out into the sunshine. - Photo’s are clickable (I hope) thanks to the genius of Windows Live writer, but only taken with my phone so not amazing.
Trying to get all 5 together proved a bit of a test.
The final chick count is 5!!! – I am very happy. They all seem healthy and happy and are eating and drinking and snuggling under Mum. Unfortunately in my eagerness to watch them yesterday and keep lifting the lid off the hen house, I have put my back out. So no more photos for a couple of days as I need both hands to hold me upright!
The back ache has also scuppered any idea I had of going to the Surrey County Show, which is practically in my back garden, so I am a bit miffed.
Enjoy your bank holiday everyone.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
A duck landed in the ivy on my fence…….. actually there were two – I had seen the male land but you can’t see him in the photo and this was the female peering out. They stayed just long enough for the photo call then flew off to the graveyard (2 doors down!) …… Strangest thing ever!
Monday, May 04, 2009
Catching up on blogging, obviously! Tee hee!
So, Mama Silkie, as of Saturday evening, is sitting on 8 more eggs. These are my own so will be of the Heinz57 variety if they hatch! She couldn’t have gone broody at a more opportune moment to be honest, as the cockerel is beginning to outstay his welcome. He has started to get aggressive (especially if you are wearing a colour other than black) and has attacked me a few times, and he’s a heavy old bird!!! So at the end of this week he will turn from stud to dinner. I will actually find it really hard this time, we’ve culled a few cockerels and I’ve not found it too emotionally distressing, but despite him attacking me I still have a soft spot for him, we’ve had some good cuddles in the past, and he looks after his ladies. But an aggressive cockerel is not a keeper so it’s best done sooner rather than later. :(
Sticking in the garden area – the weather has been lovely these past few weeks and many an early evening hour has been spent in the garden wrapped up in Flicca, with my knitting (It must be said the Flicca is being worn to within an inch of it’s life at the moment).
Half the veggie seedlings are in the garden plot now, and the other half will wait a few more weeks just in case we do have a frost. If we don’t then I should be ahead of the game, and if we do then i still have more than enough young seedlings to re-crop!! I’ve already had rhubarb and a single asparagus stalk from the plot, and the strawberries are fruiting up beautifully. The onions and garlic are all well on their way too.
In crafting…… the crochet sweater is finished and I’m really happy with it. I think I can safely say i can crochet now! I really enjoyed making it and will definitely be crocheting more. It grows much quicker than knitting and is so much easier to undo should you make a mistake!!
Urban Aran has also been finished, and instantly consigned to the “winter box” It took me ages to sew in the sleeves…. probably because I’m not overly enamoured with the finished article, for no reason other than the yarn I chose is a little thick for a jumper really (which is why I should have stuck to my original plan of knitting it as a cardigan
But I think by next year in the middle of winter I will be very happy to have it!!
There have been several trips to Hayling Island for walking, playing and generally “getting away from it all”
And that, so my photo folder tells me, has been about that!
So today I have a little work to do (always best to file online HMRC submissions over a weekend cos you’ve half a chance of them getting through), and then a little sock knitting and an audiobook. I started listening to The Seventy Seven Clocks yesterday, and misplaced 2 hours in the middle of it!!!!! Came in at what i thought was about 5 or 5:30 to walk the dog and found it was 7pm *oops* The worst thing was I had defrosted a whole chicken to roast for dinner last night and last me through bank holiday sandwiches and a few dinners next week. – luckily with the intervention of the pressure cooker, the whole roast dinner was ready and served in less than an hour. it did make me giggle though! – Silly woman! I’ll try to be a bit more “aware” today!!
Have a great Bank Holiday everyone. x
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
And so that brings me to the veggie seeds rather nicely! Most are sown, Tomatoes, Aubergines, Peas, marrow, cucumber, butternut squash, courgette and peppers. A couple are showing already, but mostly they are still thinking about it.
In other news:- Urban Aran is finished but needs sewing up - and I haven't got the enthusiasm for something so thick and heavy at the moment - although knowing England, it'll be freezing over the Easter weekend so I expect I will get it done then. I have now started crocheting a sweater dress. I've never successfully followed a crochet pattern, but this one is working rather well (famous last words) and having finished the front and most of the back I can confirm that it is, at least, sweater shaped. Which is always a good start.
Blogging will become less now through the summer months, as I spend more free time growing veggies and generally lounging about in the sun. Plus of course our annual jazz pilgrimage, which this year is again in Abersoch.
Take care all, and enjoy the weather.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Did anyone see the F1 classic Ozzie Grand Prix collection on the BBC1 Red button on Tuesday? I don’t know if it’s going to be a permanent thing before every racing weekend but it was CLASS! The longest highlight was the 45 mins full highlights show of the 1996 GP when Schumacher showed us the kind of racer he was going to become by taking Damon Hill out after making a mistake on a World Championship deciding race. The other included Jacques Villeneuves first race, the Mansell/Prost/Picquet World championship decider and a few other tit-bits!
If you are a fan it’s well worth looking out for if they do it again. Check the BBC website and keep checking that red button. – They sure knew how to race in those days!!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Boy what a week………. Without going into too many sordid details (and besides I’ve had to move on emotionally!) we thought the eggs were not viable but were proved wrong . So all the others were promptly put back, and today one has chipped. Seriously it’s day 26, as far as I know the latest any of my Poultry sages has ever heard of is day 25………. I am a wreck! I also now know that I should dunk the eggs in warm water before giving up on them, and they dance if they are still alive…… well three more are dancing, so in theory they could be still going to hatch. I’ve counted and re-counted the days on my calendar wondering if I could have been stupid enough to have missed a week (it wouldn’t surprise me I am not the most day/date aware person in the world – apart from the 19th of every month when the tax man needs paying!) but I am definitely right – starting at day 0 (to allow for Ma Hen to warm up the eggs) today is day 26! I don’t know if they will hatch – I don’t know if the membranes inside the egg will be like shoe leather by now? but I know that my nerves were not made to take this kind of stress!!! G & T anyone?!
I’ll keep you posted!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
So, Poor Silkie has been sat on 7 eggs for three weeks and it looks like none will hatch :( I am sitting here trying to decide what to do……. as I have the cockerel in with the other girls I could try putting yesterday’s and today’s eggs under her to try again, but that will mean she has sat for 6 weeks which may be too long……….. i won’t be worried if she leaves the nest cos it’s not like this new batch of eggs will cost me anything, but I am concerned for her health and whether she can last sitting that long? Am waiting for some expert opinions on the poultry forum !
In gardening news:- the veggie plots have been started – onions, some carrots, some texel greens, are all in. In the greenhouse I have sown a couple of peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes and peas– just two of each for now and I’ll do another 2 in a few weeks in case of frost or other catastrophe (mice?!!!!)
The chickens have all come back into lay after the winter, and are looking lovely after their moult with their new feathers.
Spot is…………. well Spot really! She is loving the fact that she can stay out in the garden most of the day, and can usually be found asleep against either the veg plot or the shed, wherever is sunniest!
Knitting is….. slow! I am nearly done with Urban aran, and am, in all honesty, hating knitting it. But I have to finish things before I move on otherwise it will never get done – I am definitely one of life’s “starters”, so have to discipline myself with the knitting otherwise the house would be full of half done projects, and I rarely go back to an unfinished task (which anyone who sees the state of every half decorated room in my house (err that’s all of them) will know!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
P/hop (pennies per hour of pleasure) is an idea started by knitters (natalie at the yarn yard specifically!!), but there’s no need to limit it to that! Maybe someone will give you free seeds this spring that give you a few hours of pleasure, sowing, watching, growing, smelling, eating? Or a magazine to read for something to learn….. or of course yarn or patterns!
The idea behind p/hop is that you donate amounts for things that were given to you free which have given you minutes/hours/days of pleasure. You get pleasure, someone less fortunate may get lifesaving medical treatment…. seems a fair exchange to me!
Friday, March 06, 2009
Knitting has ground to a spectacular halt due to me playing Lexulous and bejeweld blitz til all hours of the night
I have found some very special old school friends on facebook, and am spending a lot of time over there at the moment.
Normal (I can hear you chuckling at the word normal you know!....) service will resume........ sometime!
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
I know that CraftydramaQueen, is thinking of getting chickens, and so I thought it would be good, and maybe helpful to others to do a “I wish someone had told me” post!!!!
The first thing to say is that chickens are really easy to keep. Food, Water somewhere warm to sleep, and maybe some grit is really all they need. But here is just a tad more detail!!
You can buy houses on eBay and lots of websites. My advice is probably to get the cheapest thing you can find!! WHY? well in 2 months you’ll want more chickens and whatever you bought won’t be big enough, and you’ll have realised that you can make something just as good out of bits and pieces and although it might cost the same it’ll do exactly what you want, rather than having umpteen features that just don’t cut it for you. Many people use sheds, and I have come to realise the common sense in this. I don’t have one, I have two houses….. but sheds are definitely the way to go. You can get in them standing up, which helps with the back ache while cleaning the endless amounts of pooh (especially in winter when they spend so much more time in the house) It should be noted though that if you use wood for your house, you will almost certainly get red-mite in the summer months. There are numerous remedies, some work…. many don’t. Personally I find a blow torch pretty infallible, and cheap! but obviously there’s only so much blowtorching a wooden house is going to take (and it needs to be done once a week during an infestation) so that may need to be taken into account when you select your house/materials (Other redmite treatments include a steamer (rather than blowtorch) diatomaceous earth, barrier powders and there is a redmite killer powder though i can’t find the name of it at the moment. Old fashioned creosote works too, and I have heard that jeyes fluid does as well) Redmite live in the crevices and seams of the wood, so the fewer joins the better – houses made of tongued and grooved wood will potentially have more places for the little blighters to hide. This is why the Omlet houses are popular, – made of plastic they are less likely to harbour redmite. Redmite only come out at night and feed on the birds. Your birds will soon show signs of infestation….. bald bottoms and a general aversion to going in the house are good indications that something isn’t quite right. If left your birds can become quite ill, but it’s not too much trouble to keep them at a bay, or at a manageable level.
The house needs ventilation so you don’t get condensation, but not too much in the way of draughts. Having said that both my houses are doorless (I don’t use pop-hole covers) and I haven’t had any chickens with colds!.
Your house needs a perch for them to sleep on, and a nest box for them to (hopefully) lay eggs in. Perches can be made of 2” x 2” or 2” x 1” wood, rounded off on the corners, but I have known plenty of others use branches and all sorts! Nest boxes can be anything from crisp boxes, to lovely add-on side boxes. Your nest box needs to be as dark as possible to encourage laying in it (as opposed to anywhere else) and to discourage egg eating. You can put as many nest boxes as you like, but I’ll bet they all queue up to use the same one.
If at all possible it is worth investing in a small additional ark/house/ hutch anything! It can be used for quarantine (see chickens below) or a broody pen (should you wish to hatch) or a hospital should one of you chickens need a breather from the others!
What chickens to get?? Your main choice is pure breed or hybrid. My first were pure breeds, and I have to be honest and say that much as I love them, I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on chickens again. They were £30 each, and lay around 7 months of the year, from about March to September. Obviously this is different for every breed, but pure breeds generally will lay this kind of amount 7 – 9 months of the year. Hybrids (a cross of 2 breeds) will generally lay much longer in the year, and will be cheaper to buy. My hybrids were £6 each…. one of them has laid most days for 2 years now, the other moulted this year and took around 5 weeks to come back into lay. For egg production these are the little beauties you want. Many of them have “breed” names now. Warren is the one I have which is a Rhode Island Red x Light Sussex. The problem with the pure breeds is that you are still feeding them throughout that period of non-laying, so the cost per egg goes up considerably. I know that is not the only consideration, but money does have a bearing and is worth pointing out in the overall picture. Obviously these are only my suggestion/observations. But I do wish I had known more before I spent £30 on the Welsummers!
Also, when you are first buying chickens it is thought it wise to get 3 or more, as if anything happens to one there will always be company. Chickens are social and shouldn’t be left alone :(
Should you need (or just want!!!!!) to add to your flock, new birds should be quarantined for at least a week and preferably 10 days to make sure they are not bringing any illnesses into your flock. It also gives the new birds time to get used to your soil/environment and anything they may need to become immune to before mixing with your flock.
In the house you’ll need a bit of bedding, otherwise the pooh will rot the house!!! I use whichever horse bedding is going cheapest. Proper straw doesn’t really work as the lengths are too long to pick the pooh up, and you end up throwing the whole bedding away every time you clean, which isn’t really necessary. At the moment I am using something called Easybed, which is a dustless straw and broken down into lengths about 2 – 4 inches. Nice and manageable. You can also get wood chippings. Hay shouldn’t be used as it harbours a fungus which can be harmful to chickens, and the same goes for anything with Bark in it. For economy you can use shredded paper, but it has it’s faults. In the nest box it sticks to the eggs as they come out a tad tacky on the outside, and in the house it gets a bit wet. But it has it’s place and if you have the time to clean every day then it’s a good choice.
I believe the suggested minimum exterior space for chickens is 1 sq m per bird……. but in all honesty if you pack them in that tight you’ll be knee deep in pooh quite quickly! I have 5 birds in a 3m x 4m run, and that seems to be a good size. I could put a couple more birds in there quite easily. The floor of my run is just earth. I am lucky in that my soil is free draining chalk, so generally in all but the wettest weather it is fairly dry and clean. I turn the earth over shallowly/roughly about once a fortnight. And once every 4 – 6 weeks turn it over quite deep and thoroughly. In really wet weather I add some bedding material on top to give the birds something cleaner and drier to scratch in.
Other recommendations for runs are to use gravel – not pea shingle, but large gravel (I think 20mm size) This can be pressure washed and disinfected easily and I know a lot of people that use it to great effect.
You can of course put them on grass……. but it won’t be there for long!
Layers Pellets are all that are needed! Around £5 – 8 per 20kg sack from a feed merchant (horse feed places usually do poultry food) Layers pellets are a complete food and the birds don’t “need” anything else.
If you also buy a sack of mixed corn, the birds will soon learn to come to you/feed out of you hand/ do somersaults (ok the last one was a lie) But they really do learn quickly for corn. it’s a great way to gain confidence….. scatter on the floor at first….. feed from a pot…… feed from your hand….. use to get them to bed by placing just inside the house doorway, or even a few pieces on each rung of the ladder if you use one… Treat it like chocolate though – not too much! It’s a treat. I put a handful down most evenings on the ground for the birds to scratch and find. In winter they can have a bit more as it does keep them warmer as it digests much slower.
Finally, it’s worth putting a grit pot out. Again you can get grit from a feed merchant, really really cheap! and worth having around. The birds use it in their crops to grind down their food, and also the calcium in it helps with egg shell production (if you get soft shelled eggs, add a bit of grit to their layers pellets) It’s just a couple of pounds for enough to last a year or so, they don’t need much but they do need some! Technically I don’t think they need it with layers pellets as they are supposed to be complete, but mine tend to lay soft shells if I don’t have it around.
Because chickens scratch for their food, almost anything you put the food in will end up drowned in bedding/earth/pooh and the food will be scattered everywhere. If you are leaving your chickens with food all day (which is the usual way) buy a feeder with a scratch ring. or pop a bit of mesh over the food and secure so they have to peck through it. Or use a hopper which attaches to the side of the run. If thinking about being frugal then you could probably use a plant saucer for a few hens or a trough for more but I would definitely suggest the mesh!! Also worth just lifting off the ground a little – again to stop them scratching the dirt into the food. A couple of bricks or something similar is fine. Personally I use this setup with the added scratch ring and stand, but it’s quite big so you may want a smaller version for a small run. (and they still manage to spill a bit!! – love ‘em)
Water is pretty tricky too, I have found the best things are little gizmo’s that use old soda/wine bottles. This one is quite good , but again it can get filled up with dirt/straw etc. These are the ones I have found the best for manual drinkers. I keep a few around in case my other bits and pieces break or anything – they’re great! If you want something to use for more birds or like me are a bit too lazy to fill bottles every day (yes you heard it here folks, I am the laziest person on earth) Then I use an old water butt, with a tap, hose and connected to a tray. You’ll also need a T connector as I remember! There are loads of alternatives to this particular set up, but it’s so easy and worth doing. Also makes it very easy if you are going away for a day or three, as although it’s helpful for neighbours to pick up the eggs, there’s no reason for them to worry about water or feed..
One thing that is likely to turn up soon after the chickens are the mice. Keep all food in an old lidded dustbin if possible and keep your eyes open for signs of vermin. - Just don’t give them too much in the way of free board and lodging!!
I’ve tried to cover the most often asked questions in the above really. And if you’re still reading then congratulations on your concentration level! There follows a quick summary in case you got bored!
You will need:
House and Run - buy as cheap as you can, your first one will never be big enough or you’ll want to change it soon.
Feed – layers’ pellets, corn as a treat.
Food vessel – with a scratch ring/plate
Dustbin or similar to keep food in
Water vessel – ones that attach to the side of the run are best (You can also use cut up old plastic milk bottles tied to the run wire)
Grit and something to put it in
blowtorch or steamer or one of the redmite powders (none of the powders I have tried have been totally successful – blowtorch is infallible!)
bedding – straw or woodchip. It’ll last a long while if only used in the house and nest boxes.
Plenty of batteries for your camera!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Work is busy……… so there’s not a lot going on Chez Noo, but as today is a somewhat sunny day I just thought I’d show you how grown up my sole surviving chick is now!
He is such a sweetheart (unlike the other bully!) He will be picked up for a cuddle, he’s gentle with his ladies, and crows the sweetest crow. Not too often though, just a few little outbursts a day! (I may re-evaluate that particular sentence when it gets light at 3am) Look at how big he is now, at only 15 weeks old…. He absolutely dwarfs the girls. I am really hoping to be able to keep him, as it’s such a bonus to have a gentle cockerel. I will try breeding him with the girls I’ve got, as it is the most cost effective way of keeping an ongoing flock. Thereafter, any cockerels will be table birds, and the hens will lay. He puts me in a very peaceful frame of mind! Daft isn’t it!
(All piccies should be clickable as I’m using Windows Live Writer now which is a tad more consistent.)