Chris's Weblog – City 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.

 

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.

Autumn 2009

It seems that September has gone by without a mention on my weblog. It was a warm dry month and lots of time was spent in the garden at home. As far as the allotments go we visited to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbage and did some weeding and tidying but not enough time was spent there I’m afraid.

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It is now one week into October and the weather is still mild with some sunshine and so far not much rain. The pumpkins have suffered from the lack of water and aren’t so good this year. The butternut squash is almost non existant unfortunately so that is disappointing. The runner beans were prolific but also not as good as last year because of the lack of rain.

We have blown our savings and bought a car. Not a new one, a 2002 registration Jaguar, but have kept the Rover so I will have my own transport and we can also use the old one for allotment visits.

 

At six weeks old the runner ducks have grown at a terrific pace and now stand well above all the others in the garden. They are lovely creatures, very shy and quiet. All the ducks are now living together in one shed. The old gardening shed that I cleaned out, treated and adapted for them. I am looking forward to seeing the first egg from the new girls.

Frank The Duck

Frank The DuckThe Runner Ducks hatched this weekend. Out of six eggs we got three beautiful ducklings. It looks like two girls and a boy, Libbie named the two girls Honey and Treacle and we decided on Francis Drake for the boy, Frank for short, in honour of our good friend and neighbour at the allotment.

We spent a good two hours at the plots on Sunday and came home with a good harvest of potatoes, beans, cucumbers, cauliflowers, cabbages, courgette and tomatoes.  An enormous amount of weeds were pulled but we still came away having run out of time and knowing we had much more weeding to do. Everything was very dry and this afternoon we are having a welcome shower of rain. I am sure the plants will be getting a much needed drink.

 

Indian Runner Ducks

Yesterday we took our black Silkie bantam cockerel to a new home. The chap had all sorts of chickens, loads of large white ducks and some Indian Runner Ducks. I have often looked at pictures of the runner duck and seen them in the flesh and thought them to be comical but have never considered getting any. However, when we were ready to leave the chap gave us six eggs for the incubator and there they sit now. With the prospect of little ducklings in twenty eight days I thought I had best read up on these strange members of the duck family. Apparently the ducks are prolific layers of large eggs and can lay all year round. The eggs he gave us are enormous and it is hard to believe that the outcome of the hatch will be the slim, elegant, penguin like birds in his field. Well elegant until they start to run.

trout irdwhite indian runner duc

Indian Runners are a very special breed of domestic duck. When they were first imported into Europe nearly two hundred years ago they attracted attention because of their tall, upright bodies and their incredible reputation for egg-laying. They had been found in the East Indies, from which they get their present name, but were referred to as penguin ducks by Dutch explorers. Information from The Indian Runner Duck Association.