Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Half a dozen...

Since my last post, Clarabelle has been in prolific form. She started laying last Friday and then has continued to bless us with eggs for 6 consecutive days. We had some with gammon the other night and it is lovely to be eating fresh eggs once again. The taste is beyond description and it's lovely to see yolks as bright as the sun once more.

Her first few eggs were laid in the middle of the run, but since then we have treated the girls to an Eglu cube. Unlike with the nest box in their original Eglu, she is nesting in the larger Eglu Cube nest box.

One of the best things about eglus is that they hold a significant proportion of their value. We sold our 8 year old pink Eglu for £257! Which pays for 3/5 of the cube we bought second hand from Cotswold Chickens near Stratford Upon Avon. We have a spare green Eglu aswell which we will sell and hopefully that will pay off the outlay we made on the cube. After our honeymoon we will probably add another 4 or so hens to our flock, we were going to add them sooner but a few things popped up and I didn't want to introduce new hens and then leave them under the supervision of an inexperienced owner whilst we enjoy the Parisian sunshine!

Thanks for reading, enjoy the summer weather before the storms set in tomorrow.


Friday, 5 June 2015

We just did the 'First Egg Dance'!!

We have been waiting for what seems like eternity for this moment.

I was just about to start making our dinner, a Friday treat of Sausage, chips and beans but beforehand I thought I would go and give the chooks their evening corn.

There it was bang in the middle of the run... our first egg at Paddingon House, laid courtesy of Clarabelle.

It's a fantastic example of a speckled egg isn't it, with those lovely dark brown spots covering it all over. Looks like we will be having sausage, EGG, chips and beans now!

Have a lovely weekend everyone, we'll be doing the egg dance through til Monday!


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Homegrown salad..

You can't beat the taste of an early summer salad, it tastes even sweeter because it is the first harvest grown at our new home.



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The race is on..

Almost 2 weeks in to our latest chicken keeping venture and we still haven't had an egg. As you may remember we recently purchased 3 POL (point of lay) hybrid hens from Cotswold Chickens near Stratford Upon Avon.
We have no idea exactly how old Clarice, Clarabelle and Clara are but point of lay suggests anything from 15 weeks - 6 months old. From my previous experience with poultry I would guess that they are all around 18 weeks old. 

Despite currently being eggless there are promising signs from both Clarice (White Star) and Clarabelle (Speckledy) that eggs are not too far off. Clarice's comb has doubled in size this week and it seems to be getting a darker shade of red every single day. Clarabelle's comb although small is bright red and in the last couple of days she has started 'crouching' when you approach her. Normally hens begin to do this at maturity and it is a signal to the cockerel that they are ready to mate. We don't have a cockerel, but anything tall enough to hover above them is easily mistaken for a potential mate!

So the race is on, who will lay first? Will it be a brown egg from Clarabelle? Or a white egg from Clarice?  I guess I've jinxed it now and it will be a blue egg from Clara, but she's showing no sign of wanting to lay at all! Clara is an Aracauna cross and Aracaunas are known for taking a lot longer to get in to the wing of things than other breeds.

As I write this Clarabelle is sat in the next box...

Have a great day!


Transplanting Leeks

In my post on Tuesday, I said that in order to get us up and running I was willing to buy a couple of plug plant packs from the local garden centre. In addition to the lettuce plugs that I mentioned the other day I also bought some 'Longbow' leek plants.
I absolutely love growing leeks, they are a true staple for allotment gardeners and even though we are currently plotless I just could not imagine a growing season (or winter harvest) without them.

The first thing to do when transplanting leeks is to use a dibber (the handle of a trowel will do) to make a hole about 5'' deep. The leeks don't need to be planted too far apart, a distance of about 6'' between them will more than suffice.
After making the holes it is time to seperate the leeks out. Remove the leeks from the container you have been growing them in up until now and then you need to pull them apart. Try and ensure you keep as much of the root system in tact as possible. Some people say that you need to cut 1/3 of the leaves off and also 1/3 of the roots. I have never done this but I have always had a bountiful harvest of leeks in the past.
Once separated they should look like this...
You then need to simply place the leek plants in the holes you have made. After filling all of the holes with your leek plants you then need to 'puddle them' in. You should NEVER back fill the holes with soil or compost because the grit from the soil will get stuck in between the leaves of your leeks and they will not be pleasant to eat at harvest time.
Just put your thumb over the end of a watering can and allow water to dribble in to each hole. The objective of this is to allow the small amount of soil around the side of the hole to fall on to the roots and effectively cover them. The hole will be filled out over time by growth of the leek and by rain water causing compost/soil to fall in to the hole.

The whole reason we use this method rather than simply planting the leeks at soil level is to ensure that the white part of the leek is larger than the green leaves. If young leek plants were planted at soil level there would be lots of leaf growth but overall this has quite a bitter taste compared to the sweeter white part.
I can't wait to harvest these beauties and I hope they grow as well as leeks I have grown in previous years. I'm going back in to the garden now to sow some radish seeds in between the leek plants. The radishes will be harvested way before the leeks require all of that extra space.

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day!