Tuesday 24 March 2009

Chickens and Horses

Tyres with plant labels (but no crops yet...haha).

Oops I missed Mondays Blog Post!! We had SUCH a busy weekend, with lots learnt and lots achieved. We started on Friday with a big shopping trip to restock the larders and get Lovely Hubby all his nails, wires, woodstain and all the bits and pieces ready for his next big task ... ditch digging and fencing. Hubby bought me a little present of some terracotta plant labels for the tyres and I simultaneously was buying him a bunch of flowers (just because he's lovely).

Then it was a case of getting all the little bitty jobs out of the way ready for our big day on our Henkeeping Course on Saturday. We set off on Friday night and had a lovely drive, mostly unfortunately on the M25 but loads of lovely Suffolk countryside could be made out as darkness fell. Then after a good nights sleep (and the most revolting breakfast in a Little Chef) it was off to Troston, and the lovely home of Francine Raymond.

The lady herself - Francine Raymond.

Of course I forgot the camera, so I have borrowed some images from my current favourite book  'All my Eggs in one Basket'. The house is exactly the same as in the pictures in the book, lovely - but lived in, pretty - but practical, a delightful home

After a brief wander around the garden and an introduction to the hens, all enormous Buff Orpingtons (five hens and a cockerel), it was time for a slide show and a discussion on the merits of which birds we were all considering. 

Lovely Hubby was in his element, he was the only male with ten lovely ladies to keep him company. After lots of talk and slides and pictures, it was time for a tour of Chicken HQ and the merits of different types of henhouse and the basic day to day requirements of chickens. Then it was a few more slides in the house and then lunch round the long farmhouse table.

And what a lunch..........all homemade by Francine herself, gorgeous homemade leek soup with homemade bread, followed by eggs, her own and supermarket free-range as a comparison, served with a lovely salad and dressing. For dessert we had the most divine syllabub made with homemade lemon curd and heart shaped shortbread biscuits. 

A lovely light lunch all washed down with wine and elderflower cordial.

Then it was back to business and a talk by the lovely Hugh on the health and well being of your birds. After a question and answer session it was time for more slides and an informal chat on chickens. Then we were given a guided tour of The Kitchen Garden, lots of good ideas about how to have a garden and let your chickens free-range as much as possible. While all this was going on we were being filmed for a Korean television programme and our day finished with us all being interviewed by the camera crew, what they will make of us on Korean television I dread to think!!

The final part of the day was spent having a browse around the little shop that Francine has and picking a few lovely little bits and pieces to purchase (in my case a new book, some plant labels, a china egg (to show the birds where to lay) and a lovely card). Then it was time to go, Francine signed my new book and we had a brief chat with her about our specific plans and she was very helpful with some wonderful suggestions. 

 If this post has come across as a bit of an advert for Francine's course I'm glad, it was a useful, helpful and very informative day and one which we, as complete beginners, really needed. If you get the chance to go on one of these days, (she does three a year) then take it. Then we drove the 140 miles home buzzing with ideas and revised plans. Happy to have spent such a lovely day together.

Hubbys' Horse. 

 Sunday was spent with me tackling a mountain of washing and hoovering up half the dog (or so it seemed) and Hubby making his fence posts and his very own horse. Sorry to disappoint all you horse lovers out there who thought the horse in todays' blog title was me acquiring a show jumper or a huge carthorse, it's Hubby making his own wooden horse for chopping and sawing all his fence posts on!!

The results of a hard days chopping and sawing.

Plum Tree. I spent the afternoon planting our plum tree and some of the already flowering bulbs around the edge of the pond, Hubby has used the JCB to lower our little 'stonehenge' stones into position around the pond side (might stop me reversing the car straight into the pond now the edges are clear of the weed jungle we used to have!)

  It's starting to look really good and we have 5 wild ducks now using the pond. On Francines instruction I am going to feed them at the same time each evening with just a little bit of brown bread, to keep them eager to use the pond. Although I have heard that they always come back to the same place each year to breed, so maybe they've been here a lot longer than us!!
  There are two ducks in this picture.....honest!!

Sue xx


  1. What an enjoyable post today ... lots of information and great photos. I saved the photo of the farm table and labeled it 'perfect room' in my inspiration folder. Thanks so much.

  2. Hello Sue, thankyou for sharing your hen course. It looked like such a great day, in beautiful surroundings, and with wine too! Perfect. We are getting are hens this weekend, I hope.
    Bertie x


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