creative 1975

Spring’s Life Cycle

In Non-Fiction, Poultry on October 26, 2013 at 7:44 am

The arrival of spring starts a new cycle of life with many lambs being born in the paddock and the first chick being hatched by one of my lovely Light Sussex hens. 2013-09-19 08.55.45-1

Now I have a motherly Orpington hen sitting on her eggs so I’m eagerly waiting to see if she will hatch one out too. A poultry-keeper-friend of mine told me that it’s quite usually for a hen to only hatch out one or two chicks on her first time, due to her inexperience of turning (candling) the eggs. I am yet to find out whether the new chick is a hen or a rooster. Hopefully a hen but I’m doubtful as there are always more roosters than hens. The new feathery chickadee has been named ‘Georgie’ by my daughter who has been desperate for one of the hens to have a chick, and she’s held on to that name especially for when the time comes. I told her it would only happen if one of the hens’ turns broody as I’m not going to start breeding until next year. When the first one did turn broody we let her get on with by moving her and her nest out of what I call the ‘big coop’ and into a smaller one by herself, with a run attached to it. To my surprise about five weeks ago a chick appeared!

The Light Sussex is a heritage breed and quite striking with gorgeous white plumage, an attractive black lace looking collar and black tips to her tail and wing feathers. The roosters make good table birds and the hens are good layers. As well as being good mothers if IMG_4085allowed to sit on her eggs. I’m really pleased with the two I have, which I got from my poultry-friend who breeds them and they are pure bred too. (Photo: right)

The Orpington is gorgeous and I would describe her as being voluptuous with her copious amount of feathering; almost touching the ground like a cape she carries round with her. Her light colouring is nice-looking and the shape of her eyes is different to the others, more oval and pretty. They also make good mothers to their chicks, so let’s hope she hatches one out. Unlike the Light Sussex, I can’t be certain the Orpington is a pure bred chicken as the breeder I got her from is suspicious another rooster may have intervened when he shouldn’t have! I did have two of these lovely birds originally, but sadly one died. (Photo: below)

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A couple of months ago I acquired two lovely cross breeds, they are both black in colour and pretty small in comparison to the others and they lay white eggs. One is a Houdan crossed with a Leghorn Frizzle and the other is a Houdan crossed with a Leghorn. They have the well-known Leghorn genes: a double comb and five toes! There is something about this pair I find amusing as they dart about so fast and hide under the tree or in the long grass. When the smallest one of the two first arrived (the frizzle) she took a liking to the fluffy Orpington and would snuggle right up to her in the coop every night (she’ll be missing her now she’s off on her nest elsewhere). Yet the two of them, named Mickey and Mini by my daughter are always together during the day. I try not to name our chooks as I’ve had a few of them with names die, but I find myself creating my own names sometimes from nowhere whilst walking amongst them and I call these two Houdan and Little Frizz!

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The Muscovy ducks are also doing well. They’ve all been through the maternal stage and sat on their eggs, but unfortunately none of them were fertile because it turned out that ‘Daffy’ is not a drake! We’d let them sit for a while and then take their eggs away. May be we’ll get a drake next year! They’re laying eggs again now they’ve finished brooding and the one’s we don’t eat are selling well at the gate with the chicken’s eggs.

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Duck eggs are great for baking and have big yellow creamy yolks, very tasty fried or in an omelette. Duck eggs are actually twice as nutritional as a chicken egg, although the yolk is higher in cholesterol, but it’s the good kind! And they last longer in the fridge. The longevity is due to their hard shells—they need a good crack.

IMG-20130722-WA0002(photo of my delicious Victoria sponge)

The newest arrivals are six brown shaver pullets, eleven weeks old. They’re lovely with their soft young feathers and settling in well to free range life. I’m looking forward to when they begin to lay and hope they’ll be good layers. I still have ten other hyline chickens, the first hens I purchased when I began my little poultry farm. I call them my ‘old girls’ as they’re getting on a bit now, but still lay eggs every other day. Sadly I’ve had to separate them from the others, although they still free range, because they are not very nice to all the other chooks and ducks!

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