Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Three years of chickens and Hens in the City

Goodness me - how time flies when you are having fun/keeping chickens.

It's now three years since Harriet arrived in our lives, closely followed by Ruby which means that its also three years since I started this blog - heavens, that's longer that a Katie Price marriage!
The one and only Ms Harriet Princess Ping Pong McEllis
In some ways it really doesn't seem that long ago since we got the chicken run shortly followed by the Silkies, Harriet and Lottie, the first occupants however they were followed the very next day by the Sussex bantams Ruby, Cybil and Margot. I recall with great trepidation the first time that we let them out into the garden.

A rare photo of Ruby NOT moulting
I have no idea why we ever thought we had to worry. After three years we have gone through the process of hatching and loss, arrivals and departures. The garden has developed into an area of plants that can generally withstand the girls once they are established though the lawn does need areas re-turfing each year. 

The girls do an excellent job at demolishing slugs and snails though this year they did wipe out the lettuce faster than the aforesaid molluscs! 

There is no doubt that the greatest joys of the chickens are the eggs. Glorious in taste, there is absolutely no comparison to shop bought eggs to the eggy joys the girls produce. Although they are bantams and therefor bantam eggs we have found that the yolks (as well as being the most amazingly bright orangey yellow)are larger that those of a normal sized egg which could well account for the fantastic flavour. It really doesn't take long to get the hang of working out recipes with bantam eggs instead of the normal "recipes are based on large eggs" scenario. I wonder if the slug and snail diet makes the eggs tastier?  
Tallulah - her of the saggy bum 
Nigella - beware dogs and actually everything!

Poor Lottie passed away at a fairly early age. Cybil and Margot departed for a new life in rural Bedfordshire due to the fact that noisy early morning bloody chickens in the city do not go down well with the neighbours (and no, rural Bedfordshire is not a synonym for "in the oven")

So onwards to the next two lovelies that arrived. One is a partridge colour Silkie (I think she's a partridge colour? Do correct me if I'm wrong)called Tallulah. To say she was shabby when she arrived is an understatement however she moulted out into a lovely bird. She does have something of a dropped undercarriage and all the old poultry keeping books suggest that she should be straight into the pot however she's a happy hen and not a bad layer though she does turn out some very thinly shelled eggs. And of course Nigella the Destroyer. A silver Sussex (as was Cybil whom we had to move on) Nigella is full of attitude. On the positive side she takes no nonsense from the dogs and will quite happily chase Max. Unfortunately Max thinks that Nigella is playing so he takes his ball over to her so she can throw it! I have to say that I do love the Sussex bantam as a breed.

So still very happy with our "girls" and we are forever indebted to our lovely neighbours who are always more than happy to chicken sit when we are away. It was also lovely to meet Alan and Sarah in the park the other day, more fellow chicken keepers in our road. Hopefully at some stage I might get to upload some pics of their girls.

Despite the oddness of the weather and blight attacking lots of people outdoor tomatoes we are doing good, harvesting lots of fruit and veg. Tomatoes and outdoor ridge cucumbers are doing well, just planted out kale, calvo nero and celeriac at the allotment for winter crops and also just had our first chilli of the year - yup it was a right hot little bugger even though it was still green. Courgettes haven't overwhelmed us yet - you can always tell when there are too many as its straight to the glut crop recipe pages! We also have some really good squash coming on for later in the year. Just trying to fit in a last crop of Florence fennel as the first lot got too hot and bolted but think I'm too late.

So three years just went that'er way. Thank you for reading and your comments and all of those of you who contact me via facebook about the chickens (and don't forget the read the latest Max and Millie
Ruby after being severely "app'd" by my hubbie

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