Monday 14 May 2012

Chickens and Finances

Meet Amber, she's the leader of the pack of little Amber Stars that we have just bought, she wasn't supposed to come home with us but where we went for our birds had four Amber Stars, we had originally gone for 3 of each kind of two birds but we couldn't leave her as the last of her breed in the mixed flock so home she came with us, along with her sisters, Annie, Amelia and Annabel.  She's the bravest of the bunch already coming up to sit alongside me on the log after I go in to feed them with their corn each afternoon, and watching me from the perch while I clean out the hen house each day.

An Amber Star is a Rhode Island Hybrid that lays brown eggs with a plum blush, I look forward to seeing them in the next couple of weeks, they are all Point of Lay.

This is Belle, she's one of the trio of Bluebells that we got at the same time.  They are a Maran Hybrid.  The others are called Beauty and Brandy.  They have the most dramatic looking faces, a little fierce looking because of their colouring and their piercing eyes but they are gorgeous birds.  They have grey legs and feet which is something new to me, all my other birds have light coloured legs and feet.  They are still a bit skittish at the moment and run away from you rather than to you but they have all fitted in nicely, and after a few minor skirmishes have reached a relatively stable pecking order with the established flock fairly quickly. They tried briefly to bully the little Lavender Pekin Bantams but got short shift there when they quickly discovered that Alice is the leader of the whole flock.  Small does not always mean timid!

I never rush to get hold of my new girls, I let them get used to me over the space of a couple of weeks and then start to pick them up, find out who likes a cuddle and who doesn't, but I always get them all used to being handled, tipped up in all manner of undignified positions, wings stretched out, feet played with etc just in case they need any medical help in the future.

The new girls watch avidly as the older girls come to me to sit by me and be stroked so they will soon learn that I am a safe, friendly giant that invades their patch each day.

The Hylines are doing well, I have only 4 now.  One decided her time was up last night.  I had been in with them lots over the weekend and everyone was fine, healthy, in full feather and running around eating and being their usual cheeky, wellie boot pecking selves, but then when Lovely Hubby went to close the henhouse at dusk last night he said, "it's strange, but one of the Hylines is in a nesting box" (they usually all roost on the perches).  He asked me to keep an extra eye on her today, but when he went to open up the house at first light this morning she had died in her sleep.  She must have sensed it coming and didn't want to fall off her perch.  A dignified end for a lovely dignified little hen. Her four sisters watched intently as LH moved her body and then trooped out into the damp morning, much quieter and more somber than usual.

Some of the new girls under the hen house.

One of our Hylines - note the clipped beak, I hate that my poor girls have clipped beaks but they are rescued free-rangers and this is what happens to most of them.  It's done so they don't fight, or if they do, so they can't inflict as much harm on each other.  Luckily mine cope very well with feeding but sometimes beaks are over clipped and the birds have trouble.

Annie - she will get used to me taking photos soon!


After last weeks successful Live Below the Line Challenge and being temporarily food obssessed I am now getting back into studying our finances again and setting myself the little Challenge, (nothing too strenuous)  of seeing how much housekeeping I can save each week.  As usual all my cupboards and freezers are full, so I'm going to work my way towards emptying them (yet again).  The challenge is just to see how little I have to buy each week, and therefore spend, hopefully it should only be a bit of salad stuff until ours grows a bit bigger.  We have our milkman who brings us 3 four pint bottles of milk each week (and a little treat of a pint of Tropical fruit juice on a Saturday),  so really there's not much need for me to go to the shops. The more you go the more you are tempted to spend I find.  How long can I last, I wonder? 

All the money I have left over each week goes straight into my £2012 in 2012 Challenge Fund.  At the end of the year this money will be added to our savings ready to buy a place of our own.  You can check out facts and figures and follow my progress as I add them each week in the stand alone page listed under the Blog title.

I've decided to start using my 'How Low Can You Go Blog again to chart my progress emptying the cupboards and reducing the spending, see it HERE or click on the 'cucumber question mark' picture at the top of the right hand side bar.

It's nice to be getting back to normal, whatever normal really is !

Sue xx


  1. Your new chooks are lovely, so good how you can get them to learn that you are the 'good guy'! Mine never managed that! Am missing my girls as they have not made the move with me. Sorry that you have lost one of yours overnight, amazing how she knew to sleep elsewhere.
    Take care xx

  2. Sue,
    I love to read about your chickens, I love the idea of keeping them but I'm completely terrified of birds! I nannied in the States and one of my jobs was feeding the chickens, just the thought of them rushing towards me brings me out in a sweat! I'll just have to enjoy the dream from your blog :-)

  3. I have two bluebells who are about 4 1/2 years old now and have missed very few days laying an egg each this spring. They are very pretty. I didn't know that they had Maran in them and am quite surprised as they lay very pale coloured eggs.

    Sorry you've lost another hen. They do mostly seem to know when their time is up.

  4. Lovely new chickens Sue. I love watching them change from combless 'youngsters' to fully combed and wattled adults.

    Sorry to hear you lost one of your older girls in the night though.
    Take care
    Julie xx

  5. Nice to see those chickens enjoying their home. I`d love to have a few myself, but Brighton Council does not allow you to have life stock at their properties.

  6. We're nearly at the end of our second 'No Food Fortnight' of the year - a little challenge we set ourselves to not buy any food (other than fresh fruit/veg) for a fortnight, but instead to use up what is in the fridge, freezer, cupboards and garden. It's actually quite good fun, isn't it?

  7. the chooks are so lovely - I am a total sucker for chickens (pretty obvious!) What a clever girl spending her last night in the nesting box. I've lost a few chickens in the last several months as well. They were all my older girls, who had had lovely lives, but I thought they might live longer. I didn't think 6 was that old for a chicken. Glad you took Amber home with you!
    Oh and thank you for your lovely post about the farmers markets - didn't that chap have a bee in his bonnet!

  8. I'm not surprised you couldn't leave one hen behind !
    When I worked in Israel I saw the beak clipping going on - horrible.
    Sorry you lost one of your girls - bless her just going to sleep in the nesting box.


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