The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Orpington Bantams

I have decided to sell my chickens so that I can be available to spend more time with Adam. My son Sean and his partner Deb are taking the eglu and four of the smaller chickens to live in their garden. I have advertised the three Orpington Bantams for sale and will be advertising the others soon.

Jemima – Broody Call Duck

Jemima, our white Call Duck, is sitting on a nest of fertile eggs so I hope she has some luck this year. This is her second season and last year she only had one surviving duckling. Puddles, her mate is standing guard on top of their hutch and warding off all comers. We only have four call ducks now in the garden and things are much quieter and tidier. The second pair are Myley, Jemima’s baby and Rosie, one of the ducklings I hatched out last year in the incubator. They are living together and so far Rosie has six eggs in her nest. It broke our hearts to let the other calls and the runner ducks go but they are all now living in lovely places with loads of space and plenty of grass. We shall probably have to sell the ducklings if they hatch but it all helps to pay for food and bedding and the ducks will be much happier and content if they are allowed to rear a brood of their own. The ducks aren’t the only ones who are broody in the garden but as the chickens don’t have a cockerel with them there won’t be any chicks this year.

Pictures of My Hens and Ducks

 

Duckling Surprise

Look for the small things in life to bring joy. (Confucius)

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We had given up on any ducklings from Jemima and Puddles as most of their eggs have been infertile. However, this morning, to my great surprise one of the eggs had pipped and by this evening we had a beautiful baby duck. I have already bought some duck eggs from ebay and they should arrive tomorrow. The bought ones are mixed colours so we don’t know what to expect. Waiting for Libbie to come up with a name for the new baby now.

Torrential Rain and More to Come.

After a day of torrential rain the weather finally cleared up enough for us to pop down to the plots and install the second Cucumber Carmen in the lean to. The first plant is still surviving despite the cold spell we have had. We had a walk round to check on everything and so far no disasters and all the mini greenhouses are is still standing. We bought home the first of the pointed cabbage and some chard. Most of the seeds we sowed are through and the potatoes are doing really well. Rob is off work next week so we hope that the weather will allow is to complete the new fruit cage, plant the runner beans and get some pumpkins and squash into the ground.

Back at home the melon seedling have been turfed out of the broody box to make way for seven new chicks, the final count of the hatch is two Pekins and five Orpington bantams. There is still a lot of potting on to do as the seedlings of pumpkins, butternut squash, tomatoes, lettuce, sweet corn, melons and pak choi are all crying out for attention.

White Faverolles Bantam

Today I have received twelve hatching eggs of the White Faverolles Bantam from Benjamin Shepherd, a breeder from Lancaster. The link to his website is on the sidebar under friends. They will go into the incubator tomorrow along with six replacement eggs of the Buff Plymouth Rock as only one of the first batch of eggs was fertile and the breeder very kindly replaced them. I have bought a ‘Brooder Hen’ from P&T Poultry Supplies. It is an electrically heated plate that hangs above chicks in a broody box to supply them with constant body heat for the first few weeks of life.

White Faverolles BantamPictures courtesy of Benjamin Shepherd

Faverolles originate from the village of Faverolles in Northern France and were created from a mix of several different breeds. They have a broad, square body with small wings, a single upright comb, short neck, a striking beard and muffing. The head is broad and round and the eyes are reddish bay. The pinkish legs are sparsely feathered with the feathering concentrated on the outer toe. They have five toes. They are quiet, friendly, gentle birds that can actually become very affectionate towards their keepers and are an ideal breed for children. They are alert, active birds and the hens make very good broodies and mothers. The hens will actually lay prolifically over winter. They are not good fliers. Information from omlet.com

 

Courgette Black Beauty

Today has been a sad day as I have had to cull the two lame Apenzeller chicks. The remaining three cockerels are strong and will be going to a new home soon as we can’t keep boys here. On a more positive note the first of the Buff Plymouth Rock chicks has hatched and it looks very healthy.

courgette black beautyI have sown my last single seed of Courgette Black Beauty which has done very well for us in the past three years. Germination should take 7-14 days and it should be ready to plant out in early May. It is a very prolific plant amd fruits need to be picked when small for the best taste. If we have had problems getting to the plot in the past we have found some fruit to have reached 1′ in a very short time.

Five Fluffy Chicks – Hello Flossie

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(Update – of the five chicks, two had to be culled as they both had seriously splayed legs and just couldn’t cope. Two are cockerels and are going to live in Manchester and one seems to be a pullet so she will stay here. I am quite happy to have one Apenzeller to add to our little flock)

Appenzeller Spitzhauben for a Spring Hatch

appenzeller-spitzhaubenemma.jpgThis is the national breed of Switzerland. The feathers of the crest are forward facing. Spitzhauben means pointed hat or bonnet. The plumage markings are black-tipped feathers. With their crest, V-comb, and spangled plumage, these birds are very attractive. They lay a beautiful white medium sized egg. 

I have bought six hatching eggs of the above breed for hatching in the incubator. (Sorry Sean)

Memory Lane

Yesterday we had a bit of an adventure. We delivered two silkie boys to a lad in Bishops Castle. We had never been there before and the whole journey, including getting lost on the way home, turned into a great day out. We stopped to get our bearings outside a lovely pub where we had a welcome rest, a drink and something to eat before we set off again to get home. We went miles out of our way coming back but saw some lovely places including some hop fields which brought back some good memories from childhood for me. We drove through the Hope Valley which was really beautiful in the Autumn sunshine. We also drove through Church Stretton, a beautiful place and well worth another visit in the future. My son Adam went there once on a field trip from university and I remember that he rang on his mobile to tell me about the wonderful views. He was right too. All in all we had a great day with some laughs and met some really nice people and a little dog called Sophie. Rob leaves for Poland this afternoon so another busy day ahead for us.

Lindsay

The 12th is usually a sad day for us all as it is the anniversary of the death of Glenn’s partner Lindsay.

 Along The Road by Robert Browning

I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chattered all the way
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say
I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne’er a word said she
But oh, the things
I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me