Eggy madness

Eggy madness

This week I’ve been trying to use up the eggs that we’ve been getting from the girls. It seems that we’re getting about 4-5 eggs per day now so the fridge fills up faster than you think. So to get through them, for the first time in my life I’ve been cooking with eggs!

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be putting up the recipes on how to make these scrummy yummy eggy so you can make these too and whatever else I get to making with the eggs.

Here’s a sample of what I’ve been making:

Brownies

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Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce

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Victoria Sponge

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Bacon Egg Cups

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But because I still had loads of eggs left I’ve started to sell them at £1 for 6 eggs! Already had some good feedback about them so I’m looking forward to more satisfied customers!

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Don’t forget to get all the up-to-date news on the hen’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. To follow just click the links in the right hand menu. Happy clucking!

The Ladies have Names!

The Ladies have Names!

The ladies have been with us for nearly two weeks now and we finally have names for them! Took us long enough but we wanted to make sure they would suit the girls. Here we go, the official introduction:

The Black Rocks Brian and Shaniqua

These girls were named by our friend. We have a girl with quite a boy looking face so she has been nick-named Brian, her full official name is Briany though. The other Black Rock has been named Shaniqua because she is fierce like the female WWE wrestler!

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Briany at the front and Shaniqua at the back, standing with their buddy Snowflake.
The Mottled Leghorns Ginger and Babs

A group of chickens wouldn’t be complete without a few named after the chickens in “Chicken Run”! I thought that the Mottled Leghorns deserved these prestigious names as they have the personalities for Ginger and Babs. The larger and bossier girl will obviously be Ginger. The other one is a little more clumsy and dippy so I thought that she was a perfect Babs.

The Warrens Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup

We have three Warrens so we needed a famous trio to name them after. There was the an idea of naming them after the three good fairies from Sleeping Beauty, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. However, this was just not good enough, so after a little more thinking I remembered one of my favourite shows from my childhood, the Powerpuff Girls and their names are chicken perfection! There is clearly leader and has darker tail feathers than the other girls so she is Blossom. There’s a girl who’s very airy-fairy and she’s a definite Bubbles. The last girl is very moody, she comes up to me clucking away and her feathers are quite darker than the other girls so she is Buttercup.

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The gorgeous Warrens, from front to back, Buttercup, Blossom and Bubbles
The Araucana Snowflake

This is the only name that just happened at of chance. As she’s the only white chicken she just landed with the name Snowflake. A bit funny as she seems to be the most aggressive to have a very girly name.

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Pure White Snowflake
Other chicken news this week include the girls coming into the house for a little explore. I’d let them out of the enclosure for a bit of free-ranging and left the back doors open as it was a nice day. Next thing I know, the babies had hopped in through the door and wondered through to the kitchen! Then the rest of the gang followed shortly behind and I had a living room full of hens!

The big step was last night where I thought I would try earning the girls trust a bit more by trying to get them to eat food that I’m holding. I took a scoop of mixed chicken feed in a box and held it out. To my surprise, after a week of trying with no success, the girls came up to me and started pecking straight out of the box with only a little bit of hesitation. I’m such a proud chicken mama!

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Another day, another treat!
More chicken news to come, don’t forget to stay up-to-date with the hens with live clucking on Twitter and Instagram. To follow them just click on the links in the menu at the top of the page. Happy Clucking!

Eggs and Bedtime

Eggs and Bedtime

The chucks have been here for four days now and already we have eggs! I’m genuinely surprised because I thought it would take them longer to settle in and de-stress enough to produce eggs. It seems though that they’re getting to know where home is quicker than I thought.

About Wednesday lunchtime after their first night with us, I heard a lot of clucking from the coop. As this was the most noise I’d heard them make I thought I’d go and check out what was up and, lo and behold, I found our first egg in the nest box! I did a bit of Googling and I think that it came from one of the Black Rocks as they are the oldest and produce darker eggs with a few speckles on them.

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Our First Egg! From the Black Rock.

This morning when we let them out we found another egg! This time it was a plain white one and considering the next oldest are the Mottled Leghorns we reckon it was one of them (and after another Google search I’m pretty confident it was one of them).

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Our second egg from the Leghorn.

Egg number 3 arrived shortly after at lunchtime (another Black Rock dark speckled egg) and just before popping the chucks to bed we found egg number 4! This again was a plain white one but it was a bit misshapen and not formed very well. This is probably the first egg that one of the Mottled Leghorns had lain as, even though they are  second oldest, they are only 24 weeks old and have only just started laying so she has probably not quite got the hang of it yet. In a week or so though they should be perfectly formed though. They’ll still taste wonderful though!

Speaking of getting the hang of things, we had to teach them when and where to go to bed. On the first night they needed a little persuading to go into the coop. In fact we had to herd them up and pop some of the younger ladies, our Warrens, in by hand because they didn’t like the ladder.

We did that Wednesday and Thursday night too but tonight we made progress! We didn’t have to pick up any stragglers or even herd them into the corner by the coop. As soon as they saw us come into the enclosure, they knew it was bedtime and all went up one by one (despite the hold up at the entrance because they all wanted to sleep at that end but a bit of pushing past sorted that out!).

Breakfast on the other hand is an easier affair, where all you have to do is open the coop door and everyone is out and ready for breakfast! Here’s some of them making their way out:

So all is well in our little chicken haven, they’re settling in really well and seem really happy. The next steps are to get them used us and to being held so it makes health checks easier and most importantly, finalising names for our lovely ladies! Happy clucking all!!

The Chickens Have Landed

The Chickens Have Landed

After a long day yesterday, we now have chickens scratching around the enclosure!

We were up early to make sure we were at the farmers auction in plenty of time to pick our favourite ladies. Obviously attire for the day was wellies, jumpers and a flat-cap to get us into the farming feeling!

There were so many breeds and colours that at first we were spoilt for choice. After a while though a few started to stand out to us, there were four lots that we liked in particular: 3 Warrens that were only 18 week old, 2 Black Rock Hens, 2 Mottled Leghorns and a cream Araucana. 

Whilst at an auction it’s not good to get too attached to something before it’s yours, we were so lucky with these hens we’d liked the looks of because we actually got them. That’s right, we are now the proud owners of 8 lovely hens.

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The Warrens

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The Black Rocks

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One of the Mottled Leghorns

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The Cream Araucana
They’re not used to being in the garden yet so we left them in the enclosure with some food and water once we got them back to have some down time. Also they didn’t know that the coop was their bed so we’ll have to pop them in the coop for the first couple of nights, like we did last night, until they can sort themselves out.

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All the chucks getting ready for bed

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A quick cuddle before putting them to bed
Once we’ve learnt how to tell the ones of the same breed apart and got to know their personalities a bit more we’ll think about names. I’m thinking along the names of Chicken Run, “Ginger”, “Babs”, “Bunty”…. The rest will be named by my boyfriend and our house mate. I’m so happy now that the chickens are here and I can’t wait to record the adventures of our new chicken family and get some more photos!

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How to build a chicken enclosure for under £300

How to build a chicken enclosure for under £300

After a little bit more work the enclosure is now chicken ready! All the wire is on the front, the padlock is on the door and the coop is repaired. Now all we need is the chickens, which should be with us on Tuesday afternoon! In the meantime, if you’re thinking about getting chickens or just want to update your coop and give the chucks a little protected space, here’s how we made our chicken enclosure.

How toFor the coop, we saved one that had been broken by a storm and was just about to be burnt. We cleaned it up, painted it a nice blue and put it back together. We were lucky to get a second hand coop which didn’t really need too much fixing, so we didn’t need to fork out too much for it, just £20 for the Cuprinol Forget-me-not blue paint.

Next we started building the enclosure. We bought 30 pieces of 2.4m long timber (10cm wide X 5cm thick) from B&Q for £70, which has a good deal on at the moment if you buy more than 20 pieces, it brings the price down to £2 each! The roof was a rectangle 2.4m X 4.8m (the 4.8m was made of two pieces of wood fixed together). The rectangle was then split into 18 smaller 0.77m X 0.7m rectangles to give the roof strength so that it could be freestanding other than being attached to the garden fences.

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A half section of the roof. It was easier to lift on in halves

All the wood was held together with metal plates and angles. Straight metal plates were used either side of a joint and metal angles were screwed into every inside corner. This added some real needed strength, which without would have caused the roof to cave in from its own weight.

On to the roof structure, 9 plastic roof sheets were screwed down. These were 3m long by 0.5m wide and £8 each from Wickes. The plastic sheets should help keep the rain off and stop the enclosure from becoming a mud bath.

The front of the enclosure was made in a similar way as the roof, with a large a large outer frame (4.8m X 1.9m) split into 5 sections, 4 supporting (2 sections of 2.27m X 0.95m and 2 of 1.47m X 0.95) and one for the door of 1.7m X 0.78. We used the timber to make the door as well. All joints and inside corners were supported by metal plates and angles as describe for the roof.

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We had to remember to put the coop inside before putting up the front as we would not be able to to get it through afterwards

Once the front had been secured to the fences, the roof was lifted on and secured to the front and all of the fences. As the fence panels were not very wide, we added some extra supports along the fence where we could attach the roof onto with more metal angles. The extra supports at the back were longer than the front so that the water drained off into our garden, not the drive behind the garden. In the future, we’re planing to build a raised plant bed to catch the water and stop the ground from soaking through.

After being strapped down to stop the roof from taking off in the wind, we attached aviary mesh using metal staples to the front. The mesh was £35 for 3ft wide x 15m long, the wire was 1.6mm in diameter and in 1 x 1in squares. It was easily cut into the right sized striped using wire cutters. I can really recommend the online supplier that we got our mesh from hillsofdevon.co.uk as their website was really easy to use and understand and the wire arrived well before the estimated time of arrival.

I’m so happy with the finished product. I know a lot of the time I say that “we did this” and “we did that” but mostly it was my boyfriend that did all the construction work. He did a wonderful job and did most of the work with just an electric drill and a hammer, couldn’t have been a simple job once he got to grips with the design.

 

Including the price of all the screws used and metal joining plates, which came to £107 from Wickes and our local DIY store (where we got more for our money) the total price for the enclosure came to £284 pounds. For how much work you have to put in and how few DIY skills are needed, the results look fantastic! There’s still a little bit to go like making sure that it’s also rat proof and painting the wood to make it weather proof but these can be done whilst we have the chickens.

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With the enclosure ready, the next post will be when we actually have the chickens. Tuesday is the day, so expected lots of photos and happy thoughts! 🙂