Monday, 26 April 2010


Yes, on their very first day in their new home our chickens all produced eggs. We were expecting to have to wait some time for them to settle in before they started laying. But there were four eggs on day one and there have been four eggs every day since. We hope that indicates it was a relatively stress-free move and that they are happy in their new home.

The eggs are not quite the colours we had anticipated. Although the Leghorn and Maran Coucou gave us a white and dark brown egg - The Heritage Skylines did not lay the blue eggs we were hoping for. Ours are laying beautiful lightly tinted green eggs instead! Although 75% of Skylines produce blue eggs, some lay green, cream, white or peach coloured eggs. The green eggs are very pretty: just a pale hint of colour – like some tasteful Farrow and Ball heritage paint - which turns a common or garden egg into something very special indeed.

Our four year old is now the official egg collector and runs to the coop every day after school to check who has laid what. So far we have had scrambled eggs and fried eggs and will be testing their baking qualities later today. So far, so delicious.

The only quibble about these lovely hens is that they seem a little fussy about food. Our previous chicks ate all sorts of kitchen leftovers and were particularly partial to pasta and peas. However, De Cluk and Co have turned their beaks up at every delicious morsel we have offered them. If it is not corn, they will not eat it! Ho hum...back to the recycling bins.

Monday, 19 April 2010


Our back garden has felt very empty since the demise of the chickens. So, finally, we felt it was time to replace the hens.

Here they are having a pat before going into their new home:

So, please welcome the Tiny Farmer garden hens! From left to right they are De Kluk, Mabel, Goldie and Freelander2 (?!). And for those of you more interested in the breeds than their bizarre names they are a White Leghorn, Maran Coucou and the two on the right are Heritage Skylines. They were chosen specifically with interesting egg colour in mind. We found that people were always very excited to see white eggs from the last Leghorn we had and thought it would be fun to have some more non-supermarket coloured eggs. The Maran Coucou lays very attractive dark brown speckled eggs, white eggs from the Leghorn and the Skylines lay pastel coloured eggs – usually blue but sometimes pink, peach or jade. Skylines are an unusual breed derived from the Cream Legbar (that’s where the usual egg colour comes from). The chickens vary in colour from grey to all shades of brown and often have tufts on their heads. It took quite a bit of research to find a Heritage Skyline breeder – but we are hoping it will have been worth the effort.

Having said that we nearly came back from our POL pullet supplier with only one Skyline. The chickens on Kirsty’s farm are free range and while De Kluk, Mabel and Freelander2 were easily caught, the second Skyline – Goldie - seemed enjoy her unrestricted lifestyle and was not very keen to succumb to the net. It took over and hour and eventually needed four people to catch her!

Here are our new hens safely packed up in the back of the car:

We are going to keep them enclosed in the run for a while – at least until they get used to their new surroundings (and, even after wing trimming, I wouldn’t trust Goldie not to stray!). After that we will extend their room to roam by erecting an electric fence.
The birds seem to get on very well together but after only one day in the coop it looks like Goldie is going to be cock of the walk. She was the last to go to bed and the first to get out in the morning and is definitely trying to establish herself at the top of the pecking order.

Now all we have to do is sit back and wait for those beautiful coloured eggs.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


There has been a lot of anticipation over one of our pregnant ewes in particular. Number 560 has been “adopted” by the Reception classes of a local school. The children named the sheep “Woolly” and have been receiving regular emails from Woolly telling them all about her life in the sheep field. The sheep theme has extended into all sorts of educational projects for the children – from counting sheep to singing sheep songs, making models of sheep and doing sheep drawings. Needless to say, the news that Woolly was going to have a baby has caused great excitement in the school....and we have been extra anxious about ewe 560.

Woolly was eleven days past her due date when she finally showed signs that she was going into labour. The whole family happened to be there at the time and we saw the complete process from the appearance of the water bag....

To the sheep pawing the ground, then lying down and having contractions....

The realisation that the lamb had a leg stuck and would need a little help....

And finally to the birth of a healthy little ram lamb...

Here he is being licked clean by his mum....

And taking his first steps.....

And eventually managing to find a drink of milk

Not there! It’s there!

We left mother and new baby looking very content.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Slow lambing & cows...

Well after the burst of excitement last Wednesday we've had to wait a whole week for more lambs to be born, we had another set of twins arrive this morning and I'm sure the next few days will see plenty more arrive. Although the break in lambing has been somewhat frustrating it has given us time to watch the lambs develop in their first few days and it's also given us time to get the new cattle settled in.

The lambs seem to know that they should stay well away from the rest of the flock at feeding time. Sometimes they stand on the edge of the feeding area

and other times they curl up in a corner somewhere.

We've had to put two ear tags on each lamb, one is electronic and one just has the number on. The tags are almost the same size as their poor little ears and it feels quite mean to be adding so much weight to their ears, but I guess we have to make sure we follow the rules.

Now, on to some other new arrivals, the cows. We have 6 Highlands, 2 Sussex and 1 Hereford. They seemed to be delighted with their new environment and went charging about on their first day out. They have settled in very nicely and each day are coming a little closer as they get used to us.

Well, best be going to check if any more lambs have arrived.

Tiny Farmer out.