best layer of the month # December

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Ooops, I almost forgot to tot up the egg count for December!

Total egg count was slightly down in December because Miss Moneypenny decided to have a massive moult.  There were feathers everywhere, for several weeks, and she was walking around looking somewhat naked until the new feathers grew.  With the cold spell we had, I was slightly worried she would catch cold, so have been giving extra treats and vitamins to help.  Miss Moneypenny is fully-feathered again, but all her energy went into growing feathers, so she only laid 4 eggs this month.  Miss Plumpton and Mauricette (above) did very well though.  Miss Plumpton (the Sussex) laid 22 eggs and Mauricette (our French blue) laid a grand total of 30.  Which means 56 eggs were collected in December.

And just because I like statistics . . . I  went back over archives for 2018.  Miss Mauricette may have been our best layer for the past few months, but Miss Plumpton wins the crown for Best Layer of 2018.  Miss Moneypenny laid a total of 194 eggs in the past year: Mauricette 316 and . . . drumroll . . . Miss Plumpton laid 333.

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best layer of the month # November

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Hats off to Mauricette this month, as she’s our best layer for this dismal month of  November, with 28 eggs.  Total egg count was very good, with 72 eggs.  23 laid by Miss Plumpton and old Miss Moneypenny still doing well, with 21.

best layer of the month # October

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After an incredibly long, hot summer, autumn really is upon us.  With October, we had a few nice weeks, but also a fair bit of rain, and even some early snow.  I thought the damp and cold would put the hens off their laying  yet nothing seems to put them off.   This month we collected  a total of 84 eggs.  24 from Miss Moneypenny, and 30 each from Miss Plumpton and Mauricette. 

best layer of the month # Miss September

After being Queen of the coop since January . . . Miss Plumpton has finally had to hand over the crown!  Because for September, Mauricette is best layer of the month!

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With a total of 30 eggs – yay!  Miss Plumpton came in a close second, with 27 and Miss Moneypenny a respectable third place with 23 . . . so a total of 80 eggs this month. 

We were away for a few days in September so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get correct figures for this month , but egg count was easy to tot up.  Claude, the neighbour who looked after hens while we were away, collected 3 fresh eggs every day.  Hens, being very friendly gals, didn’t mind having someone else look after them, especially as Claude brought lots of treats and had a little chat with them every day.  

best layer of the month # August

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Miss Plumpton did it again!  She didn’t take a single day’s rest this month and produced an amazing 31 eggs!  What a clever Sussex hen she is, eh?

Other gals did very well too though . . . Mauricette with 28 and Miss Moneypenny, despite her age, laid 27.  Total egg count this month: 86.  That made quite a few omelettes for us, plus a couple of baking sessions . . . but I also gave fresh eggs to neighbours since there’s no point in stock-piling.

We seem to have something of a barter system going on with neighbours lol.  I’m happy to just give eggs away rather than see them go to waste, but this month we were given a couple of litres of milk in exchange AND

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some fresh crayfish!  Now, I have to add here . . . we’ve got a new neighbour in the Close, and as well as holding down a paid job as a teacher, he also works for the Fishing & Forestry commission on a volunteer basis.  In this role, one of his occupations over the summer holidays was to set traps to catch a foreign variety of crayfish, an American variety, I believe.  These were introduced (no idea when or why) into local waters and have been breeding like rabbits to the detriment of the European crayfish.  The American cousins are considered as pests so people on the fishing commission have been busy trapping them all summer.  

You can’t see exactly how many of the little blighters there really are in this photo, as they’re in an ice-box and are all piled on top of each other.  I’ll spare details for the squeamish, but we spent several hours prepping these for the freezer, and then received another bucket-load the following day which we had for dinner.  They’re fresh water creatures so taste nothing like prawns.  However, they were very tasty cooked up with fresh tomatoes from the garden and served on a bed of rice. 

best layer of the month # July

July has been hot hot hot!  Not as dry as in some parts of the world since we’ve had a couple of storms and rainfall.  The other week, we had one hell of a storm with high winds which caused havoc: bringing down tree everywhere, which in turn brought down powerlines.  In our orchard, two tree were brought down by the wind

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Hen coops were blown over, and needed immediate repair.  Hens got totally soaked

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but were unharmed.  And Cléo’s trampoline was whirled up in the air and landed about 20 metres farther away, down in the stream!

Stream was turned into a fast flowing muddy torrent

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Anyway . . . the day after the storm, everyone was out with chain saws, local council were out, as well as the electricity company, and power was restored.

Hens don’t seem to have been put off egg laying, despite the heat and storms . . . egg count for this month totalled 89 eggs!  28 laid by Miss Moneypenny, 30 by Mauricette, and a staggering 31 by Miss Plumpton.

best layer of the month # June . . . and then there were three.

A bit of sadness in the coop this month.  From four hens

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we are now back down to three.

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Who’s missing?  Yup, our lovely red hen, Miranda.  She was suffering from “fly strike”, also known as myiasis, earlier in the month (very gruesome, I’ll let you google if you have a strong stomach).  We did our best to treat her, but to no avail, and we had to make the decision to put her out of her misery.  I say “we”, it was actually the husband who did the deed quickly and efficiently – for which I can never thank him enough.  It would have been inhumane to let her linger.

I really miss not seeing her lovely golden plumage, when hens are all strutting about – she was a lovely hen with a great personality, and in the 3 years she lived here, she laid a total of 726 eggs, so she was en excellent layer too.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say the other gals are all healthy.  Miss Moneypenny has finally got over her broodiness (which seems to affect her every May & June) and is now back out, strutting her stuff.  She’s mainly there just to look pretty these days though, aged 4, we’re not relying on her for our egg supply.

For June, the total egg count was 58 eggs.  1 laid by Miranda before she got “ fly struck”, 3 by Miss Moneypenny, 24 by Mauricette and a staggering 30 by Miss Plumpton, who never seems to take a day off.

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Saying that, Mauricette laid a 110g whopper only the other day – no doubt a double-yolker, but I haven’t cracked it open yet.

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Anyway, our three gals are enjoying the shade of the apple trees in the orchard.

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Temperatures are hot.  35°C today, and forecast says we can expect 37°C tomorrow.

The orchard really is the best place for the hens in the summer months as there’s always a bit of shade.  Apple trees look as if they’ll yield well this year.  I have no idea what varieties we have, but there are two which seem to be cooking apples

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And one which gives nice eating apples.

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They’re not ripe yet, but if they can all stay nice & healthy-looking like that, we should be in for quite a harvest.

Pear trees aren’t doing so well.  We’ve got 2 in the orchard, and 2 in the veggie patch.  The latter are totally without pear, but in the orchard there are a few (probably about a dozen in total).

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The question is: will they ripen, or simply fall off beforehand?