Yearly Archives: 2011

Merry Christmas!

A big change from last Christmas this year! Last year due to the freezing spell the water was frozen and Christmas was pretty much put on hold with bottles of water from neighbours being used to fill plastic duck ponds and drinkers for the chooks and muckers. This year we are currently a balmy 10 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

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The Boys!

Sooooooo, after saying how we were going to cull the cockerels only one boy (the crowing one) made it to his final destination. The cull, as on occasion may happen, went a little wrong. A matter of 10 seconds delay feels like hours when something goes wrong and although he obviously didn’t suffer (it was still quick and clean) the delay meant we then delayed doing the other two boys until we calmed down. A month later, they are still here (and looking for homes!).

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Today is the day!

That the cockerels are finally culled. I have been putting it off for as long as possible, however the past two days one of the Faverolle boys has taken to 4.30am crowing and even in the heavy coop with little height to stretch his neck he is making an almighty racket. 

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Run Time & Wimpy Boys

I have started putting together my plans for the new chook run and the spoilt madames are still going to have over 4 sqm space each as well as access into the duck run (and ducks into theirs) at times.

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Back Garden Chickens and Other Poultry by John and Cara Harrison

I’m a little bit excited as the book I co-wrote with my father, John, Back Garden Chickens & Other Poultry is released on 01 September 2011. It will be available from Amazon and all good bookshops (as they say) from then.

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Adding Up The Cost

Today I realised that adding up the cost of the chickens and ducks to see how much my lovely free range eggs are is a very bad idea. Once you’ve added the housing, feeders, drinkers, medical kit, tonics, feed, bedding and then the vets bills on top it soon adds up to be an expensive hobby!  I sell about 2 dozen eggs a week which gives me £4 and I save another £2 on the dozen or so eggs I eat myself each week and feed for them costs £6-8 a week without adding treats and greens so in this I just about break even, but I will never recoup the initial outgoings. However, it is worth it. I love watching them run around the garden and knowing how happy they are to me makes the eggs worth every penny.

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Chicken Keepers Course – Sheffield 17 September 2011

Lets Talk Chicken is a one day conference being held for those thinking of keeping poultry in their back gardens.

Held on 17th September 2011 at Westways Primary School in Crookes, Sheffield the course will cover all aspects of urban poultry keeping with three guest speakers, including a vet, experienced poultry man and Vice-Chair of The Poultry Club of Great Britain.

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Worms and Parasites

Again, due to many questions with the aid of the forums the following information will help anyone with an internal parasite problem (many thanks to Aunt Sally and all the other forum contributors for this information).

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Red Mite

I’ve been having a few emails through about people who are suffering from the dreaded redmite so thought I would make a little post about how best to get rid of the horrid little bloodsuckers! This was the advice given by the always helpful Aunt Sally in the forums:

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Broody Pingu

As I suspected little Pingu has decided it is time she had some babies of her own. Pingu is a lovely little Muscovy-Cayuga cross with the funniest hiss-quack as a result. Another result of her cross is that she is infertile. Although she does lay eggs they will not be viable so the little clutch she had secreted away wont be making any Pingu-Bumble babas.

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Cakes & Cats

With all the eggs I have had recently I had a bit of a baking session. At the moment I am getting at least 5 duck eggs a day and an occasional chicken egg too which is far more than two people can eat! I give neighbours some but have found that a lot of people are reluctant to try duck eggs which is such a shame as they are missing out on a delicious tasty treat.

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Getting Big

The chicks are getting huge now. The three boys have all got very noticeable combs and even tiny little Biscuits (Cream Legbar) is now too big to escape from the garden through holes we didn’t even think to cover up as they were so small! Instead though Biscuits has found her wings….

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Naughty Girls

I’ve been having a bit of a problem with the three ex-barn girls the past few weeks. Their little house has a secure under-run that in the morning they come down into until letting out time. They have food and water in their, shade and a spot to dust bathe and they are let out normally at 9am on weekdays and 10am weekends with the ducks.

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Poor Bee!

It turns out I have a very daft duck indeed. With all the lovely weather the ducks have had two plastic paddling pools, their mini tyre pond and drinker on the go. In order to fit them in the run they have to be lined up by the fence so the ducks still have plenty of space stretch out, relax and rummage through the straw bales. Never did I suspect that Bee would manage to injure himself as a result of the ponds being next to the fence….

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Predators & Guard Chickens!

Last week we had an unexpected visitor to the garden. No, this time it wasn’t Mr Fox but instead a predator of the two legged variety…

At about 5:45 the chickens started making an almighty noise in their underrun and although they regularly kick off to be let out of the run they normally have the common sense to wait until about 7:30am or else they forgoe all treats for the day!

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Alice Walker Author

The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker

I’m reading the most amazing book, The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker. She is best known for her Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Color Purple which was also made into a wonderful film. This book, The Chicken Chronicles, is not a manual on keeping chickens but a history of how keeping chickens led her to greater self-understanding. Almost ‘Zen and the Art of Keeping Chickens!’
I’ve never read The Color Purple and, to be honest, wasn’t at all sure I was going to enjoy reading this book. I picked it up intending to skim through and found myself captivated. I was five chapters in before I knew it and an hour had vanished

Of course, it’s heavily influenced by the setting, the deep south of America and by the experience of African Americans but this isn’t, as far as I can tell, delivering a political message, more a spiritual one.

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Helping in the Garden

I finally got round to planting out and sorting one of the deep beds this week. As always digging over is a team sport and on more than one occasion the chickens nearly lost their heads!

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Naughty Drakes

Last year I had a terrible accident when one of my drakes accidentally drowned one of the young females, Doo, during mating. It is an unfortunately common problem especially in the Spring and with younger birds.

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Chickadee Time

Last year I decided no more hatching. Nope. Not going to do it. So I got rid of my pure breed hens and left with the ducks and three ageing ex-barn hens decided at least I would be fairly safe from broodiness on their part and the urge to have chicks and ducklings running around for me would be gone.

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Mating Season & Broody Time

In the garden it is obvious that the spring sunshine has kicked off the mating season. Bumble has been busily fertilising the duck eggs for me and Erin is already starting to be a little broody, refusing to leave the duck house in the morning and then rolling any misplaced eggs into the straw daybed to make herself a nest.

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Spring Clean

Over the weekend I decided it was time to clean out the run and get it ready for the summer. In order to preserve some vegetables the ducks will be run confined from now on for most of the day. Don’t worry though, they have a lovely big run with a sheltered area, straw to play in and multiple pools to have a dunk in if they feel like it.

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Moulting Hens & Mucky Drakes

Two of my lovely ex-barn girls have gone into moult leaving the garden and hen house covered in feathers and their bums a rather bare affair. Thankfully I don’t seem to be having any pecking problems which can often happen when one goes through a moult and bits of skin show through. I do however always have some purple equine spray at hand to cover the bare areas and to deter any pecking by the other girls. The spray can be bought at most “horsey” shops and online and is also an antiseptic so if any pecking does occur it helps to stop any infections in the pecked area.

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Eggs Again!

After a winter with only one duck and chicken laying throughout, and even then only every few days, I was nearly at the point of buying eggs when today I went out and found that two more of last years youngster ducks had started laying and two of the chickens had again started laying after a winter off. I always feel that the chickens and ducks laying marks the end of winter, although they usually don’t start until February I’m hoping the early laying is a sign for a good spring to come (no more snow please!).

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