best layer of the month # May

A big round of applause for our Sussex hen: Miss Plumpton!

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There are 31 days in May, and how many eggs did Miss Plumpton lay???  She laid thirty-one!  Yep, didn’t take a single day out to rest!

Mauricette didn’t do too badly, with 21.  However the older gals are slipping.  Miranda laid 8 and Miss Moneypenny . . . well she’s just been keeping the other hens’ eggs warm, and only laid one egg this month!

So grand total of 61 eggs this month.  Tomorrow we’ll be moving the gals to their “summer residence”: the second coop which is under the apple trees in the orchard.  That will give them lots of fresh pecking ground as well as shade.  I’m hoping the change of scenery will make Miss Moneypenny get over her broody phase which has been going on all month.

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best layer of the month # April

eggs

81 fresh eggs this month in the coop!  Oh yes, indeed!  With Miss Plumpton being the best layer yet again.  She laid a total of 25 eggs, followed by Mauricette and Miss Moneypenny in joint second place with 21 each, and Miranda laying only 14.

Egg count is likely to go down in May . . . weather has been unseasonably warm and Miss Moneypenny is broody.

And in case you’re wondering if they’ve started laying funny eggs this month . . . no, that was just me, messing around with my crochet hook lol.

prepping in the veggie patch

Husband has been keeping himself busy, while I’ve been lounging with my feet up indoors, preparing the veggie patch for the 2018 crops.  For the moment, he’s still in the prepping stage for most things, so the following pics aren’t going to have you drooling . . . it’s much too early in the season for anything exciting.

The hens are currently fenced in on approx 20m2 of pecking ground and, seeing the egg count, they’re happy enough.

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Husband had the rotovator out yesterday, turning soil on a previous coop site.  Hens were on this plot over the winter months, and everything had become hard, compressed mud.  Now that it’s been turned over, it can be sowed with fresh grass seed so it should grass over in time for October.

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Very soon, though, we’ll be moving hens to their summer residence in the orchard, where they’ll be able to enjoy the shade of the apple trees.

ready

This little plot is all nicely rotovated, weeded and ready.  Hubby is going to plant flowers on 2 strips, to attract bees and other pollinators, and then a couple of  red pepper, chili and aubergine plants.

artichokes

Two artichoke plants are already in, and behind, you can see the rather big, bushy, spikey cardoon plant which is thriving.  I’m not a fan of cardoons but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow them.  To the right, husband has prepared 2 strips where I’ll plant green beans. 

seedlings

A few rows of seedlings will need thinning out soon.  Chard to the left and beetroot to the right.

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What looks like a wooden coffin, is the husband’s 2018 trial for potato growing and in those sandy “trenches” . . . he is also trying asparagus this year.  Asparagus won’t be ready to harvest this year, even though the first shoots are popping up.

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rasps

Raspberry bushes, which were cut right back, are thriving . . . and we re-planted our strawberry patches with new plants in the autumn which are already starting to flower.  We have 4 little patches, with 9 plants each.

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We’re listening to the neighbours tihs year.  They seem quite knowledgeable about the micro-climate we get here, and their advice is to wait until mid-May before any more planting.    While weather has been very hot this past week (27°C) we’ve heard temps could drop dramatically early May.  And since summer tends to last well into October, there will plenty of time to finish plantations in May and enjoy fresh produce as it ripens.

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Last photo, an overall view of our veggie garden, which is approx 250m2.  With the portable net fencing for hens, waiting to be moved and set up in the orchard.  No photos of the orchard for now as I can’t hobble that far yet.

best layer of the month #March

I haven’t bothered taking any recent photos of the gals these past few weeks, but they’re all well, and strutting around, enjoying the milder weather.

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I have been counting eggs as usual though, as I collect them on a daily basis, and this month there have been quite a few days when I’ve found four eggs, all snuggled up together in the straw. 

Miss Plumpton, however, is our best layer of March.  She only took a rest for 2 days this month, and laid a total of 29 eggs.  Her shells are very pale, compared to the other gals, so very easy to recognise.  Other gals all laid very well too, including the older hens. 

22 laid by Mauricette, 19 by Miranda, and 18 by Miss Moneypenny, so a grand total of 88 eggs in March.  And, yes, neighbours have been enjoying fresh eggs aplenty this month.

best layer of the month # February

BBrrrr it’s been cold this week!  -15°C this morning around 8 o’clock when we had to go out in the car.  Hens are all fluffed up and I keep having to replace drinking water because it freezes into a solid block in just hours. And I’ve given up with their water fountain for the moment, just using a large plastic “trough” where it’s easier to empty the frozen block out, and pour luke warm water.

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Here they all are, lining up for a drink lol. 

The cold doesn’t seem to have put the young gals off their laying, but the two older gals aren’t quite as productive.  I suspect it’s more age-related than because of the freezing temperatures.  Miranda laid 5 eggs this month, Miss Moneypenny 18 . . . whereas the two young gals: Miss Plumpton and Mauricette were neck & neck with 26 eggs each.  That makes a total of 75.  Needless to say, neighbours have been enjoying our fresh eggs this month, since that’s way too many for just my husband and myself.

Gibbs 17 months

And a recent photo of Gibbs, who doesn’t seem to mind the cold either.  Hardly surprising with that thick glossy black coat.  Here he is, now 18 months old and looking very handsome in his unique collar, made by Lynn.  I actually commissioned this for Gibb’s Christmas present.  Being a Flat-coated Retriever we like his collar to be nice & roomy so it doesn’t flatten down his lovely coat.  Lynn makes and sells some gorgeous dog collars and bandanas with 50% of the proceeds donated to a home for retired dog.  Just click here and it will take you to her shop.

A close-up of the design on Gibb’s collar (hope Lynn doesn’t mind me using her photo).  I’ve water-marked it with the name of her etsy shop: ouafouaf.

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best layer of the month # January

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It’s 31st January already . . . time to tot up the egg count and see who wins the award for “best layer of the month”!

As you can see from the above photo, hens are all in fine fettle.  Miranda has finished her moult and grown all her lovely red feathers back.  Combs are all bright red . . . and hens are currently enjoying having 100m2 to roam around in.  Since the new gals joined the flock, they’ve all been playing at Houdini, escaping from the net enclosure on a daily basis.  So we decided rather than trying to fence them IN it was easier simply to fence them OUT of the areas we don’t want them scratching (ie strawberry, raspberry & potato patch).

Anyway, egg count this month is as follows.  Miranda – 5;  Miss Moneypenny – 6; Mauricette – 26 and . . . Miss Plumpton – 28.

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By my calculations, that makes Miss Plumpton the winner, and a total of 65 eggs for January. 

best layer of the month #December and best layer of 2017

woo hoo!

The new gals have started laying!

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This photo was taken when they first arrived, in October, but since, their combs have developped and turned a nice healthy red.  And the laying began!

Which means, we had 26 fresh eggs this month – mostly small ones, but they were still very nourishing.  Miss Moneypenny only laid 1 egg this month . . . Miranda laid 7 rather large eggs, but with very strange shells

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After googling, we think these are called “body marked” and the strange shell surface is probably due to lack of daylight, but they were whoppers and very yummy.  Miss Plumpton, our Sussex laid 8 eggs and Mauricette

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our French Blue is this month’s winner with 10 eggs – yay!

And just because I love statistics . . . I’m now going to do a tot up for the entire year of 2017 to see who the “best layer of 2017” award goes to!  Are you ready?  Okay in 2017 there were 530 eggs laid in total.  The two new gals come in last place, since they only just started laying this month

Miss Plumpton in last place with 8.

Mauricette second to last with 10.

Miranda came in third place with 149.

Our lately departed Miss Marple came in second place with 161.

And the 2017 award winner is . . .

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Miss Moneypenny with 202 eggs!  Way to go Miss Moneypenny lol.  I suspect that the coming year will see a change in the regular monthly award winner.  Miranda and Miss Moneypenny have been with us since Spring 2015 and are probably passed their best laying days.  Which is why Miss Plumpton and Mauricette came to join the flock – let the old ladies rest, and let the young ones do the laying.