Of course the weather forecast for the entire weekend was dire with torrential rain, warnings of flood and gales - you guessed it, no Indian Summer.
Still, despite the weather David and Sylvia are more than ready for an adventure so despite the downpours we headed off to the Devonshire Traditional Breeds Centre near Crediton. Having checked out the website before they advertised a good range of poultry breeds, accessories and some farm animals as well. If nothing else it would be a good opportunity to look at lots of different chickens.
Set in the ground of a lovely farm the best thing is that its totally free to wander around so armed with pots of corn at a very well priced 50p we headed (umbrellas at the ready) into the grounds.
Of course, it is completely understandable that we headed into the grounds the heavens did indeed open, and rain it did, and more and more to the point that even the ducks were getting bored with it!
In the brief moments when the rain stopped, meteorology decided to baffle us further and bathed us in brief glimpses of the sun so some of the pictures to not really equate to the drenching we got. Additionally it was only with bribery of lots of corn that we
managed to get the chickens to show themselves as they had the sense to stay indoors anyhow we did tempt a few foolish fowl out into their pens.
We did see quite a few breeds, some would not be tempted, other pens had recently been emptied as the Centre was having an end of season change about. I have to say that the pens were in very good condition after a breeding season and lots of usage and additionally so was the stock. Of course, some of the girls were a bit tatty, they had eggs and chicks to produce and had started to
moult but all the birds we saw were very healthy looking.
Anyway, for the birds that we did see, it did confirms that I don't really like the feather legged breeds generally.
So what did we like. Above and opposite are Japanese bantams. Truly lovely little birds that I didn't think would like but they really had presence.
We were very impressed with these little chickens, I'm fairly sure they are silver quail Barbu d'Anvers (Antwerp Belgian bantams). They were splendid birds but seemed excellent escape artists as they seemed to appear all over the place and had got the idea of following you with menace if you had a corn pot.
As you can see - all the birds were keenly watched during breaks in the rain. Unfortunately we didn't get good shots of the large breeds but the Orpingtons were great (at least three breeds)
So a couple of things to note.
- They are a good laying breed apparently but obviously due to their size the eggs are not exactly large.
- The males get very feisty during the breeding season and also are championship quality crowers so maybe not the first choice for the city garden.
These guys opposite are more Barbu d'Anvers, this time of the porcelain type.
And finally below, what I thought was my favourite of the day - White Pekin bantams. I know, before you say it, they are a feather legged breed but goodness me what gorgeous little hens. Despite the weather they looked stunning and really brightened up a very grey and cloudy day. Below is a pic of these lovely birds
A big thank you to Sylvia and David, wonderful hosts who took on the chicken challenge in the rain and also to Rob and Isabella for being such good chicken minders in our absence.