Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Chickens

Too Close For Comfort

This vixen is being seen in a garden very close to mine on a regular basis so the chickens have been confined to the run for the foreseeable future. They are showing signs of boredom already but at least they are safe. The lady who is feeding the fox assures me that she won’t be interested in my chickens as she is well fed however, it is a natural instinct for a fox to kill a chicken and this will be even more true come the spring when she has cubs to feed. I love to see foxes and think they are  beautiful creatures but I know that I need to be really vigilant to keep the hens safe from now on.

 

Eglu – 13 years on.

The Eglu was the start of a big adventure for me as I ended up with fifty chickens, all bantams, and fifteen ducks, calls and runners. This adventure came to a crashing halt when my son was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. I don’t regret a single minute spent caring for Adam and In fact feel very privileged to have spent that time with him and honoured to have been able to help him through, what was for him, a horrendous time. My new chicken venture is to help me through my grief after losing him in February 2016. Life will never be the same for us without him. However, he left me with three wonderful grandchildren, and they are a lasting legacy for which I am truly grateful. They love the chickens and the Eglu is really safe for them to use.

Today I received a refurbishment kit for the Eglu from Omlet. My Eglu was number seventeen off the production line when Omlet, the company, was born. It was delivered by their own chicken bedecked van and assembled in the garden in August 2004. It came with three large fowl, Araucana, which are blue egg layers. The students who designed and produced the chicken house have come a long way since then. I have bought plastic replacements for the originally wooden perching bars, a new green shade and an all weather transparent full cover for the bad weather to come. Other than that, thirteen years later, it is as good as new.

Well, I am a little disappointed as the replacement perches didn’t fit. They looked lovely too. Strong and easy to clean but just not the right size. However the Eglu is back together and looking safe and warm with the two new covers. The five new chickens look happy. They are all small breeds so have plenty of room and I feel confident that they will be warm and dry this winter.

Favourite Flower 2017 – Didiscus

The growing season is at an end and after long consideration I have chosen my favourite flower from the new seeds that I have never grown before. I have gone for Didiscus for its beautiful form and colour. It is still in flower now at the end of October. This plant is aptly named as it is indeed disc shaped and both flower and foliage are lacy. The seeds I bought are mixed colours but the only one to perform for me was the beautiful blue. This years flowers are still blooming and although I scattered a few seeds in the pot I think the chickens have already taken them. I have brought the pot indoors and sown a few more seeds. After a long chicken less interval I have introduced five chickens into the garden and so must now learn to think differently about seedlings. I had sown a pot of Cerinthe too and they should be showing through but as there is no sign of life I can assume that the chickens ate those tasty new seedlings too. I look forward to many years of enjoying this self seeding gem.

 

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