Wednesday 21 August 2013

Chicken Stocktake

Yesterday I decided to count the chickens and find out exactly what we had, the numbers shift and change slightly and I do need to keep refreshing the numbers in my head especially after a sale.  The most frequent question we are asked by any visitor to the farm is "how many birds do you have ?" so I like to have the answer in my head.
Of course getting them to stand still while you count them is impossible, a handful of corn does the trick for a few moments so you have to be ready with your paper and pen to hand.
It doesn't help that on a hot day after a quick nibble they all scoot straight back under the henhouse to rest in the shade ...

... nothing for it but another handful of corn, this time mixed with some meal worms, now that always gets their attention!!
So posterity we now have -
1 Cockerel - Caldwell II
1 Light Sussex - Harriet
8 Hylines - Mother Goose, Angel and 'the Mob'
3 Bluebells - Belle Beauty and Brandy
3 Skylines - Dolly, Enid and Ethel 
3 Black Marans - 'the Gang'
1 Amber White - Amber
2 Black Maran Bantams - Titch and Tiny
2 Lavender Pekin Bantams - Poppy and Daisy
1 Black Pekin Bantam - Ebony
6 Silkie Chicks
No names yet but they are 1 ginger, 1 yellow, 1 'tabby' and 3 black and grey (one of which is teeny tiny)
*** *** ***
So we have in total -
1 Cockerel,
 24 Hens  (19 full sized and 5 Bantams),
 6 Chicks
= 31 Birds
*** *** ***
So we are at full capacity in the henhouse :-)
Caldwell is really coming into his own again as the one and only cockerel, even though most of his wives are much bigger than him.  The damage done to the birds by Harold is slowly healing and they are all growing their feathers back which is lovely to see, we still have the odd bald back and elbow but on the whole they are recovering quickly.  Caldwell is a much gentler cockerel and the girls are fast enough to outrun him if they are not 'in the mood'.

Ebony and her chicks are doing brilliantly, she is a fantastic little mother, rounding her babies up at any sight of danger and quickly herding them into their new house for security.  Her first sighting of a helicopter, (we have a lot flying low over here as we are quite close to RAF Benson), made her very wary but now she is used to them and after a glance above carries on with whatever little lesson she is teaching them. 
The black shallow tray in the run is a mix of soil and sand, yesterday she was showing them how to take a dust bath, I'll take it out later today I just wanted to make sure she could have one if she wanted one but she seems fine after a quick flutter and clean of her wings and it is just taking up space.

Of course when it's crowded under the henhouse they can always find other little patches of shade and these four birds, Daisy, Titch, Tiny and one of 'the Gang' were following the shade around the feed hopper for ages yesterday afternoon.
It was lovely to spend an hour cleaning, counting and photographing the birds yesterday, I had been packing boxes all morning ready for our move and the fresh air was a brilliant antidote to 'cabin fever'.
We exchange on the our new house next week and we will be completing on Friday 13th, which believe it or not is a lucky day in our family and a number that crops up over and over in things that are meant to be.  There have been lots of spooky little coincidences to do with this purchase that makes us think other forces are at work, the name of our vendors solicitor for example is LH's Dads name and his Mum's maiden name put together ..... Twilight Zone music plays out this post ..... der der der der, der der der der
Sue xx


  1. Hi Sue, a quick question for you - is that RAF Benson in Oxfordshire or is there more than one? I'm asking because some of my school friends came from RAF Benson to my secondary school in Watlington (back in the '80s). Just curious!
    Mandy x

    1. Yes it is, it's about a 30 minute drive from us but obviously in a helicopter they are overhead in minutes.

      Where we used to live, even closer to it, they had the use of the field next to our pigs paddock to practice landing and dropping cargo in nets and picking it up again, which was good to watch the huge Chinooks being manoeuvred, but not so good when they had to practice night manoeuvres every couple of months until 1am in the morning.

    2. Wow how exciting (but not at 1am!)

      I grew up in Thame and Chinnor - I love Oxfordshire!

      Thanks for your reply xxx

    3. I don't know Chinnor at all, but Thame is one of our favourite places and was the nearest town to where we used to live in Great Haseley and the place I used to go to for shopping and market day.

      We still go back there for some things, to visit our favourite Italian restaurant or recently for the Smallholders Sale, which we combined WITH a visit to our favourite restaurant :-)

  2. A nice set up sue
    Looking forward to see your buffs
    I have only one left
    And she's a real bruiser

    1. They are gorgeous aren't they and if you want to cuddle a big ball of fluff an Orpington is the best thing to go for, they would just take up too much room in our current henhouse sadly we are absolutely at capacity.

      I was told off once for referring to them as 'Buffs' by a 'Orpie' keeper, buff is just the name of the colour of the orangey ones, seemingly if you are in the know they are 'Orpingtons' (posh) or 'Orpies' (common).

    2. Oh get at least one..... They do make all the other girls look skinny though

  3. Sometimes things are just meant to be, Sue - and this definitely sounds like one of those occasions !

    1. It does seem that way, the little coincidences that are happening are too numerous to mention and are quite reassuring in lots of ways.

  4. I'm counting down the days to your move with you. You are doing what we thought about doing 4 years ago, but then we couldn't find a house in Wales with woodland at a sensible price and decided we were pretty well rooted in Suffolk and would miss the dry weather. So we stayed and built a new kitchen extension instead!

    1. I'll be glad when we finally get there, it's our last move thank goodness. This is most definitely our 'forever home'.

      We've been very lucky with the price for reasons I'll explain one day.

  5. A lovely round up & head count Sue. So exciting about your move !

  6. I just love your new basil photo!!!!

    1. Thank you.

      It's one supermarket Basil which cost me £1.25, split when I got home into two larger pots, then completely used up once and now on it's second growing. It's sat in a recycled tub that I think contained beef burgers originally.

      I think I've had my moneys worth :-)

      Oh, and the little pottery sign was bought from our local Age UK Charity shop, a bundle of 5 for £1.50, one of those little purchases that just made my day :-)

  7. How long will the drive be for all the animals?
    Jane x

    1. It's four hours from this house to our new one.

      So the dogs will be doing it most weekends with us until moving day which will be over the Christmas holidays. The cats are okay for up to two nights on their own (they have food and water dispensers and cat flaps), with the neighbour just checking on them, the birds and the house.

      The chickens will only have to do it once, on the 'official' moving day, once they are there the new house will be home and we will be working in reverse, coming back here to tidy up and close down.

      The plans to continue renting this have fallen through and LH will be staying in digs mid week once we have moved.

    2. LH in digs..that sucks!
      Jane x

    3. Not too bad Jane, in lots of ways better.

      No hassle with the upkeep of a place, and the responsibility of it, just turn up on a Sunday night, unpack his bag ready for work on Monday, put homemade goodies into the fridge for the week ahead and then set off for home every Thursday straight after work. Nothing to do midweek but relax after work and hand over his weekly money on time.

      Then of course he will arrive home to Wales all fresh and raring for lots of physical jobs on the farm to banish the office staleness, and after accomplishing as much as possible around the place he will head back leaving me to be able to watch what I want on the TV all week ..... anything can be turned into a positive if you try :-)

  8. How exciting that you are so close to moving now. Hope it all goes really well for you both.

    1. We are getting really excited now, thanks for the good wishes :-)


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