Tuesday, October 30

P is for P****d off!

The hens are pretty miffed at the moment! The weather is absolutely dreadful and not in keeping with what they like to do in the course of a day.

British Summertime officially finished on Saturday - not that we noticed it had ever started - but consequently the chickens find themselves going into their henhouse when they deem appropriate - so some nights, now darker much earlier - they can be spotted through the window at 5pm.

They all have their specific places inside but Mabel and Olwyn like to see what is going on!

It is important for the gals to maintain a high PROTEIN diet whilst they are moulting and a particular favourite is Parrot food! It contains a few choice nibbles and they love it.

Hens were always fed leftovers - so in this cold damp weather I tend to spoil them.
I keep all the appropriate left overs, blend the with cooking fat and then fry any bread in this mixture.

The hens LOVE porridge each night, just before I go to bed 
I generally make a large bowl of porridge to which I add the fried bread and parrot food.
By the morning the hens have a lovely combination of all their favourite and protein foods.

It sounds LOVELY for the hens - but I have never tasted it.
All that I know is they eat all their food up,
 go to bed early and the two still not in moult ie Mabel and Eva are laying eggs!
Another day here on planet hen in the Nesbitt household!
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Sunday, October 28

More mouthwatering pictures to wet your appetite!

The weather has been pretty naff of late - we even saw some snow on Friday - so there's one place to be - a warm kitchen experimenting with some new recipes!

Cherry Bakewell Cake

‎5 scanbran,
4, tbls splenda,
1, cherry Mullerlight yoghurt, or half a muller if you prefer drier cake.
1  egg,
4 lids of almond essence,
1 SW Bakewell bar
Fat free yoghurt
Soften scan bran with a little hot water drain excess water if there is any then mash up, mix in remaining ingredients and put in sandwich tin spray with frylight if not using a silicone one and bake in fan oven at 180 % or 200% ordinary oven for 30 mins check to see if cooked by using a fork if it comes out clean and nothing stuck to it...its ready.
Break up SW Bakewell bar and stir in 3 teaspoons of yoghurt spread onto cake and cut accordingly or spoon over pre-cut piece of cake.
Sticky Toffee Pudding

5 scan bran
1 weetabix
1 tbsp. golden syrup syns
1 teacup sweetener
1-2 eggs, beaten
1 sachet of toffee options
Topping 1 sachet of toffee options mixed with Quark
1. Break the scan bran into pieces,  pour on a little hot water to soften.
2. Once soft, mash with a fork. Add the weetabix, sweetener, toffee options and golden syrup. Mix well.
3. Add the beaten egg a little at a time until the mixture is soft but not runny.
4. Spray oven tin/silicone with FryLight. Place the mixture in the tin at bake in a pre-heated oven at 180c for about an hour.
5. Cool off in fridge before removing from tin.
6. Mix options with drop of hot water to dissolve powder then stir in quark & beat. Add to top of cakes.

Friday, October 26

Progress Report!

I haven't mentioned THE diet for a while - but here I am with an update! I am 3lb away from my target - this will mean I have lost 2.5 stone.

Along the journey I have eaten some amazingly wonderful food - healthy too which goes to show a diet does not have to be dull.

Take this amazing blancmange - Slimming World sell their own snack bars - which are part of a Healthy Extra part of the programme. It ensures we have fibre and calcium. We are to eat 2 Healthy Extra B choices on appropriate days. Now I can woof down a bar is seconds - so I blitzed one up (cherry & almond) made a blancmange with vegetable gelatin, fat free yoghurt and almond essence , placed into a silicon mould and added the blitzed mixture. Chilled in fridge - awesome! Made 12 so a great nibble source throughout the day.

I have also met some amazing friends and neighbours along the way - friends for life.

Sunday, October 21

Overflowing - a hen drama!

Every night I check on the hens to make sure they are all inside their hut before I lock the door and drop the hatch. Now the nights are drawing in they are usually all inside by 6pm. Ernest by the door with Mabel, Olwyn, Bev, Eva and May at the far end.
On Thursday night however Ernest was on his own, Olwyn, Bev, Eva and May at the far end of their perch. Darkness was descending rather quickly for my liking so, armed with the torch I went in search of Mabel. Calling her name I was greeted by her squawk - obvious she was in some sort of distress. As I made my way to the bottom of the garden I could hear the sound of the stream. Normally this just trickles quite quietly through the village, but with all the rain it had overflowed and was quite dangerous to a hen.
Still no sign of Mabel yet her cries were becoming more animated when I shouted her. I made my way round to the other side of the stream, via the neighbours garden. Shining my torch into the trees I was greeted by two large eyes peering through the branches. In her evening stroll Mabel must have been freaked by the sound of the water gushing through the garden and found safety in the tree.
I returned home to collect Captain Marvel, (Jon) and the cat carrier. Jon scurried up the tree, torch in hand and grabbed a somewhat startled Mabel, put her in the cat carrier and we brought her home. Her clucking was quite loud and agitated but at least she was safe.
We released her inside the henhouse and a few hours later I checked in on her and all was normal.  Ernest by the door with Mabel, Olwyn, Bev, Eva and May at the far end.

Update - Thanks Glo for this wonderful inspired response! Denise 22.10.2012.
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Tuesday, October 16

N is for Noodles!

The hens love noodles and I am spoiling them a bit at the moment.
It would appear that not all are moalting right now, though I feel it is just a matter of time.

This egg was laid by Eve. At the weekend we had about 3 eggs, so I know Olwyn is laying too.

No blue eggs told me Bev had stopped laying and one look at her yesterday
 confirmed she too was moulting.

Here it is evident too that Mabel is still laying - she is always with Ernest.
Olwyn - in the background is showing signs of moulting too.
High Protein snacks and treats are definitely on the menu.
A particular favourite is mealworms and  as the weather has changed I can assure you
the gals will be well looked after....mealworms and noodles...mmmmm!
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Thursday, October 11

Green Tomato Curry

It was an outstanding success - so I'll share my recipe.

Large bowl of chopped and quartered green tomatoes
Curry powders of choice
Chilli Powder
3 large onions
Any other veg floating about
2 vegetable oxo's
2 pints of boiling water

In food processor blitz 2 onions together with all dry ingredients,
Add frylight to a pan and add tomatoes. Cook until softish.

Transfer into casserole dish. Add stock & curry paste & chopped onion.
Cook in low oven until tomatoes are very very soft.

Enjoy the smells in the kitchen.
Serve with rice or whatever.

Monday, October 8

M is for Moulting.

Well there I was saying how lovely our hens eggs were when the production line stopped. One quick look inside the hen house determined why - they are moulting.

Chickens moult for a number of reasons but the annual moult usually occurs in the autumn and is triggered by a decrease in daylight length (less feeding time thus reduced feed intake), combined with the end of an intense laying period.

During the summer months the hens lost the smaller feathers closer to their body in an attempt to cool down. The larger feathers will usually have been developed in the previous moult and after a summer's use they begin to look rough and lose some of their colour. The shorter day length is a natural trigger to renew all their feather in preparation of colder times to come. In this way the moult is a way of conserving energy over the winter period that would otherwise be spent keeping warm.

The renewal of feathers requires protein. It is not possible for the bird to assimilate enough protein to maintain egg production as well as renew feathers. With the onset of winter there would naturally be less food available to support chicks, so it is therefore a good time to close down egg production, renew feathers and build up body reserves for the following spring. Hens that have been laying heavily for 11 months will moult easily in the autumn since this is the natural moulting time. If they have had artificial lighting and finish their intensive laying period in the spring, they do not moult as easily and may carry on egg production until the following autumn...jury still out on the artificial lighting, but for now it will be vitamin supplements for the gals and lots of lovely food.

Apparently dried cat food is good for them! Yes - it contains the essential amino acids required to keep the girls healthy - will have to give it a try! Watch this space!

Update -

This morning I mixed some dried cat food with the hen's porridge and corn. They enjoyed it - so much they stepped on their food dish and scattered everybody away a couple of times. Mabel (large dark brown one) showed she is moulting by the absence of  clumps of feathers.

Saturday, October 6

A change from chutney!

The weather has not been good for my tomatoes this year. Together with the greenhouse incident (several panes of glass were lost) we saw few ripened tomatoes.
For a change - I am experimenting with a curry recipe!
If it's any good I'll share.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, October 2

L is for Laying!

Hens are quite funny - this morning before I opened the hatch, I opened the main door and there they all were waiting to leave by the hatch.

Despite the main door being open they still formed an orderly queue!

Once the hatch was opened they came out, ready to tackle their breakfast!
This morning they had some soaked bread...they prefer brown! lol!
As the weather is colder I ensure they have a nice porridge mix,
rice and corn to warm them up and keep them happy.

Our hens continue to lay their eggs and whilst production may drop slightly, we should have sufficient for our breakfast.

Eva was waiting to go inside and lay her egg.

Ernest was tootling about with Bev - so I knew who he was waiting for.......Mabel -
here she was inside. My garden bucket is very attractive to the hens. They are attracted to the colour red. This is why so many of their feeders have red trays.

Once Bev had done her work Eva popped in to do her bit for the Nesbitt breakfast table, as did the rest of the girls. Bev is always the last to lay, prefering the afternoon to the morning.

I was reading the weekly newsletter from the  local farm where we get our boxed vegetables,who have just installed lights in their henhouses to extend the hours of light the hens receive each day, thus ensuring the egg production is at its most. I have been considering this for some time, but really think that our hens are quite in tune with nature and the seasons so am leaving things be. We know if the night is going to be cold as the hens huddle together, instead of spreading out on their bench. Now the nights are drawing in they like an early night, usually all tucked up by 6.30pm.

Another day shared from the Nesbitt henhouse.
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