Saturday, February 27, 2010

I love my chickens

We have kept chickens since we first got here.

I love to watch them, they have so much personality and are so entertaining.

This photo shows Edith and Pick-up chicken enjoying some of our winter stores of pumpkin.

During winter when there is nothing in the garden, they roam freely, but during spring when the first seedlings are pushing through, the chickens have a tendancy to regard them as a snack and so have to be shut in their run.

The run is 35m x 10m so they have plenty of scratching room, as well as access to the chicken coop, a nesting room, a dust bath and some hedgerow.

Unfortunately earlier this year the fencing was damaged by a runaway bullock who managed to pull half of it up and pull out some of the poles. As there has been no need to shut the chickens in we left the fencing down, but with spring approaching and work starting shortly in the garden we decided to get the fencing fixed back up today.

I am not one to throw things away nor buy new but on this occasion we did need some new fencing, luckily we could salvage the poles, mostly bent not broken. The poles themselves are from a poly/greenhouse that got trashed by a mini tornado a couple of years ago, I kept the poly and the poles thinking they would have a purpose at some point, and they do well as fence posts for the chicken wire.

At least it was dry today, but the wind is still a little too fresh to be outside for too long. With the new fencing we managed to extend the run a bit further too, they gained another 5 metres or so. They have another couple of weeks before we have to start shutting them in so they are making the most of it. Our compost bin has been thoroughly investigated as has the manure pile, they have done a good job of weeding the first shoots out of the veg plot, and devouring any insect that dared rear its head.

Most of our chickens have names, like Edith - (from 'Allo 'Allo, who could forget Rene and "you stupid woman"), we also have Senorita and her fat friends, Mama Hog - Queen of the roost and her tiny shadow Mini Hog, KFC and Skippy, Pick-up chicken is just that - a chicken you can easily pick up and we also have two cockerels, one who does his job when Mama Hog allows him to and a second bantam that was donated to us. We keep them for eggs and not meat, when we want meat birds we buy them as chicks from the local farmers market and raise them alongside each other until it is time to cull them. When our original birds stop laying I intend to cull them too, but for now they have a reprieve.

Only problem is that at the moment I just have way too many eggs to eat, what with the ducks and Mother Goose laying every day, just as well the quail haven't started yet.
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