Monday, July 30

C is for Cockerel!

Following the ABC of the Nesbitt Chickens brings us to C  our cockerel,  Ernest.

A common misconception is you need a cockerel if you want to keep chickens for eggs. Hens do not need a male around to lay eggs. Just as with human females, releasing an egg and having a period, female chickens do not need a cockerel to produce an egg. It happens whether or not there is a male around, the only difference is that it won't be fertilised if there is no male.

In the past, in fact when we first kept chickens back in 1990 we did have a cockerel and went through the whole experience of raising chicks. The cockerel we had back then was named Maurice and he had 2 hens for company - and other favours (wink wink!) This increased to about 10 and then he became quite rough with the girls and he had to be dealt with!

When we decided to keep chickens again we decided against a cockerel. A couple of years ago our neighbours borrowed Mabel and Bev - who at the time were broody. Their own eggs were not fertile so they were given some fertile eggs to hatch. Bev lost interest and walked away from the eggs but Mabel stayed and indeed hatched a chick. Sadly the chick died in the snow but Mabel meanwhile had developed a bond with the young bantam cockerel. This bond lasted a few months and when our neighbours moved from the village they asked us if we would keep the cockerel - who was "in a relationship" with Mabel. Being a Bantam (banty) he is small, so not large enough to properly mate with the hens so any fertilisation can not take place, we don't have the worry of raising the chicks and both the hens and Ernest are happy.

Like all our chickens he has a proper name, Ernest was the middle name of the neighbour who gave him to us.

Ernest is a faithful soul and when Mabel goes into the hen house to lay an egg he will wait outside. The cockerel is often portrayed as crowing at the break of dawn ("cock-a-doodle-doo") Ernest can often be seen sitting on fence posts or other objects, where he crows to proclaim his territory. However, this idea is more romantic than real, as a cockerel can and will crow at any time of the day. Ernest usually starts crowing at about 5am in the morning and we hear him throughout the day - not too much and in any case things like this are tolerated here in the village. Ernest has several other calls as well, and can cluck, similar to the hen. One particular sound he makes which I find endearing is his patterned series of clucks to attract hens to a source of food, the same way a mother hen does for her chicks. When I feed the chickens with tit-bits Ernest will call the hens over to share anything he has obtained. A lovely way with his girls I would like to think!

Friday, July 27

A late afternoon walk on the beach.

Every Friday I take my MIL shopping for the weekly groceries. We vary where we shop taking in whichever shops have the best offers. It was such a glorious day - on the whole, so after a long session Freida and I made our way to the nearest beach - only 5 minutes away.

As ever, Freida made friends - always so gentle with any dogs she meets.

A glorious hour well spent - think we'll do it all again tomorrow morning - weather permitting!

Monday, July 23

Bev the Broody Hen!

Continuing with the ABC of life with the chickens in the Nesbitt household........B!

Bev is our black hen - she lays blue eggs. I named her Bev after the mum of the ex-pupil who built our hen coop a few years ago. He had just finished a basic joinery course. I had known him since he was 7 and obviously knew his mum too. Bev had jet-black hair so it seemed appropriate.


Bev (left) is a broody hen this means she will get the urge to hatch some eggs, subsequently sitting on them for however long they take to hatch. The incubation period for a hen's egg is around 21 days. However - one slight snag is that our eggs are not fertile - (more of that next week).The main reason we keep our hens is for eggs, so whilst Bev is broody it means our egg production is down. Fortunately she has not been too aggressive and has allowed me to lift her off the eggs when I collect them. Broody hens can sometimes prevent other hens from sitting in the nesting area but again Bev has allowed the other hens to go into the hen house, often cuddling next to them, as seen with Mabel below.

A few days ago I noticed the rear end of one of the hens disappearing into the hedge...........they have been secretly laying eggs away from the hen house! Looking at the colour of the eggs I can tell Olwyn, Eva and May are laying eggs together.

 This morning I captured Eva in action!

For more ABC fun follow the link in my sidebar.

Tuesday, July 17

All Change!

Many many moons ago I started a fun blogging project - known as a meme. I had an idea whereby bloggers could post a specific alphabet related subject - be it a photograph, image, text, poem or whatever. We would work our way through the alphabet, week by week. It started about 5 years ago - a long time for anything blog related but here we are, Round 11!

However there has been a significant change in matters - this round I am not managing the project as I have done from day 1. A few rounds back I found I could not run the show alone and enlisted a team to help with the running of such a fun project. Believe me there is a lot to do and for the moment I am passing the reins over to Roger who has been so supportive and helpful throughout his time as team member. I am still a team member, but feel Roger is the man to take us forward.

So..................this round of ABC Wednesday will be based round my chickens, I know so many of you find the everyday happenings of life in the Nesbitt henhouse so uplifting and watch this space!

 A is for........Accommodation!

3 years ago when we first got our hens they started off in a small cosy purpose built house. In these early days - before Ernest joined the family there was just enough room for all 6 of them. Hens are social creatures, remaining faithful to their family group and enjoy cuddling together - for both warmth and safety. Here from the left we have may, Bev, Olwyn, Mabel, Margie and Eva. This sleeping/perching order was the same every night.

When our faithful gander, Jo sadly passed away his rather superior shed became vacant. The hens by this time had progressed to shed number 2, here to be seen on the left but often observed the empty shed on their travels. so eventually they moved in! Shed 2 became chief log store.

Despite having luxury accommodation should the door ever  close the girls would happily sleep on the roof! Hens originate from warmer climates and would happily perch in trees - not to be encouraged here in chillier UK! Many a night has seen Jon encouraging the girls out of the branches and into the safety of a warm henhouse.

Inside the henhouse the girls like a quiet place to lay eggs, often sharing the space together.

On average each hen lays 1 egg everyday - sometimes every other day, but sufficient for our needs.

Due to windy weather Jon modified the shed so the girls could come and go as they please without worrying that the door would slam shut.

The hens love to look out of their window from thir own window seat.

We keep a bag of woodshavings inside the henhouse which we clean out every day, allowing the hens fresh bedding each night.

With the arrival of the woodburning Rayburn we use the rear of the henhouse for storage.

Here the hens settle in for the night.

I hope you enjoy my ABC Wednesdays and gain an insight into life with the Nesbitt chickens.
Any questions - just shout out!

For more ABC fun visit the ABC Wednesday Blog here

Thursday, July 12

Thursday in the Sunshine!

Today has been the first day we have not woken up to torrential rain. For once I managed to hang some washing outside.....but I am watching the sky all of the time as a large grey cloud is heading our way.
The hens however, totally oblivious to the skies had a good preening session.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 8

Addictive Text!

Having read the entire Rebecca Shaw collection I have now moved on to another series again set in a typical English village. . This is the first of the Lois Meade crime sleuth series. Lois runs a cleaning business and is in an ideal position to observe on what goes on in the village - handy if a murder occurs!

Each book manages to introduce the following one in a way that is quite addictive and very tempting!
The weather continues to be quite naff so with Jon pottering in the shed I am continuing with "Weeping on Wednesday" whilst "Secret's on Saturday" will have to wait until I have read Theft on Thursday and Fear on Friday.

Watch this space!