An EGGCITING new development has been taking shape at Ramblers Rest farm… A little over a month ago, our family of 6 donkeys, and 5 dogs, was introduced to 60 Rhode Island Red hens, who quickly clucked their way onto our farm and into our hearts.
And so began the days of, “The Hens in our lives”
Known as one of the most resilient and disease resistant, free-range chicken breeds, Rhode Island Red hens are not only tough cookies (as is expected from all the ladies on our farm), our hens are surprisingly social, and what I can only describe as… chatty! Now, whether this social behaviour is due to the fact that they, like all of the animals at Ramblers, happen to be just a little quirky, or, because this is a common trait with their breed, could be a matter for debate. Farmer Jay is simply of the opinion that, I spend too much time with them. Well, I’d like to see him try to conduct the, daily egg production meeting, with 57 opinionated, all-talking-at-the-same-time hens. Yes, of-course I have morning meetings with the hens! In fact, we have end-of-day meetings too. And yes, that figure has sadly dropped to 57. More to follow on that sad matter, and other meeting-related topics.
The eggs collected from our free ranging hens are (at this time), exclusively supplied to a trusted local retailer (Warf Street Fruit and Veg). The demand for our fresh farm eggs, has increased to the point where we cannot keep up! We are immensely proud of the fact that our eggs, are known for their quality and freshness. Most people do not realise, that commercial ‘robot eggs’ as we like to call them, have been “sitting on the shelf” for at least a couple of weeks, to more than a month, before eventually making it onto your breakfast toast! Our eggs are delivered twice a week, first thing in the morning, and have consistently sold out on the day of delivery.
Even though we are still finding our chicken legs, there has been no time to smooth our feathers. We are already in the process of expanding the flock, by preparing a new coop that will house the rambling (no doubt quirky) roosters, for breeding. We are thrilled that our first rooster will come from our neighbours at Orange Grove Farm, whom supply the most gorgeous organic fruit and vegetables, as well as their own supply of farm eggs. We look forward to meeting the handsome fellow next week, when we will be visiting their farm to learn more about the processes involved in rearing a naturally healthy flock, in a manner that is most complimentary to their natural well-being. As is the case with all of our family members.
Winter is slowly but most assuredly, creeping closer. Although produce production tends to slow down during the cooler months, there is still a huge amount of preparation and maintenance that needs to be done. I am very eggcited to receive tons of great advise from experienced, neighbouring farmers and friends. Please feel free to shell out as much advise as you have.
My dream of sitting under the giant old shady milk-wood tree at sunset, surrounded by dense flowering and herb infused hedges, with a hen on my lap, will just have to wait. Oh, and did I mention that the hens announced, that they will be taking annual leave during the Easter holidays, with a surprise moult! Right in line with the annual agricultural show…”sigh”
Join me for more chick chatter, as i clear my crop, and those of some of our hens whom uhm, over-indulged a bit (yes, that can happen to hens too), learn how to give your hen a spa-treatment soak. (yes, i said the words; spa, chicken, and treatment, in the same sentence) I will also let you in on what they > those who have been doing this for a while, forget to, but really should, first and foremost, inform you about before you decide to keep, or in my case, fall in love with chickens.
- bigger is not necessarily better… when it comes to chicken egg sizes,
- coccidiosis is a constant threat and (bio-security) must at all times be a priority,
- chickens are stubborn and tough, if or when they get sick, you may not know, until it is too late, (lots of tears, not referring to the chickens…)
- OH, and that your hands will at some stage be covered in chicken poo.
So for more on that, and the story of a hen turning into a rooster… i am not yolking! be sure to check in with me soon, for another clucking update on Ramblers Rest’s farming adventures, and the inside scoop into our coop, in the next instalment of,
…the days of, The Hens in our lives.