When it was first suggested I do a blog, I thought, what would I find to blog about? Now, whilst I am going about the daily routine, I find myself thinking, that would make a good subject and start thinking about how I will write it instead of concentrating on what I am doing!
Egg production is now in full swing, most hens are laying an egg a day, and we are picking up about 21 dozen a week and selling them just as quickly. Our local Vicar came to the door at 6pm last night, he was cooking the roast and had no eggs for the Yorkshire puddings, he was apologising for the lateness of his call, ‘not a problem’ I said, and it really isn’t, a sale is a sale at anytime of the day and besides it is a good feeling to be a useful part of the local community.
I usually collect the eggs at the same time I feed the chickens their afternoon corn, yesterday I picked up the smallest egg I have ever seen, we measured it and it was only just over 2cm long! This was from a large fowl chicken, but she is getting on a bit and so I guess she is going into retirement! I had a quick look online to see if it would make the Guinness Book of Records and found many more ‘smallest chicken egg in the world’ claims, it is obviously a common thing. The eggs you see in the shop are rather like your bananas or cucumbers, they have to conform to a particular shape and size, but over the years I have seen eggs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, they can have wrinkles, calcium lumps attached to them, be a very squashed oval shape, very large or indeed very small, there is nothing wrong with any of theses eggs, generally they are laid by older hens at the end of their laying days and their internal workings are not as finely tuned as they once were.
One of the same batch of hens has gone broody this week, the eggs she lays are not fertile as they have no cockerel running with them, normally you would just keep taking them away until she gets the message, but as I had some Maran eggs with me at the time and they will be fertile I swapped her one egg for 3 Marans, I may even swap those for duck eggs tomorrow, hens will hatch any egg that is underneath them and they are not in the least surprised when they hatch that they don’t look very chicken like! I have even seen a hen sitting on top of a baby goose, that is a sight to behold, the gosling is about the same size as the hen! A broody hen is very useful as it saves electrical incubation, the problems begin when you have more than one broody hen in the hut, you are supposed to separate them but sometimes that is not practical, the hens begin a daily ritual of stealing one another’s eggs. One day a hen can be sat on a clutch of 6 six eggs the next day she has ‘stolen’ some from the other hen and now has about 12, this will go on for the next 20 days, until they finally all hatch, as long as one of the hens keeps them warm it doesn’t really matter and they all share the duties when they are born.
An advert for goats got me very excited this week, I made an appointment to go and have a look, then I began to do the research. Lesson one, always do your research before you agree to have a look and get the owners hopes up that he has a buyer! I spoke to a lady who has bred goats for over 40 years and so knows what she is talking about, she gave me a list of questions I needed to ask about the goats and a list of things I needed to know about keeping goats. When I had finished my conversation with her I realised I had let my heart rule my head, I had no idea what I was going to do with these animals in terms of either breeding from them or milking them and using the milk. I had to call the owner and apologise profusely and explain that I would not be coming to look at them after all. The thing is with a small holding, it is very easy to get carried away, we are still learning and so take some valuable lessons from this experience, do the research first and have a definite plan, otherwise you end up with more mouths to feed and no income from them (a bit like children!)