Using an old photo today, because I’m feeling somewhat demoralised with the continuing C word, and can’t get up the energy to take a new photo.
Hens are all well and, after a very long rest from laying, Mauricette has started laying again since 19th October . . . so total egg count this month was 64. 10 eggs from Mauricette, 24 from Florence, and it’s Ruby, our red hen who is this month’s best layer with 30 eggs.
Not quite sure what’s up with Mauricette, but she hasn’t laid a single egg this month . . . so keeping us in eggs has become the job of Florence & Ruby (above) in September. Just as well they’ve both been laying, because the neighbours enjoy their fresh eggs too. Anyway, this month it’s Ruby, our red hen, the best layer of the month with 29 eggs and Florence in close second with 25. Total of 54 eggs.
It’s the last day of the month and time to tot up egg count, but first, the sad news.
Miss Moneypenny died last week – awwww! She was getting on for 6 years old, had been with us for more than 5. These past few weeks, she’d taken to doing her usual summer thing: being a broody hen and sitting on eggs all day long. Anyway, last week, I went to collect eggs and to put Miss Moneypenny outside so she’d eat, drink & stretch her legs, and she was sitting in nestbox, eyes closed but still breathing. I knew something wasn’t right so quickly prepared a “hospital quarters”, wanting to isolate her from the others, but by the time I went back to pick her up, she had passed. Miss Moneypenny was one of our very first gals, acquired in the spring of 2015. Thanks to my blog archives, I was able to tot up statistics and can tell you that, in the (just over) 5 years Miss Moneypenny was with us, she laid a grand total of 1085 eggs!
Here she is, in the foreground of a recent photo, strutting her stuff. The remaining 3 hens now have quite a challenge to meet, because 1085 eggs is a lot of eggs!
Egg count this month was lower than usual, what with Miss Moneypenny being on her last legs & broody, and Mauricette is in the middle of a massive moult. We had a total of 66 eggs. 4 of those were laid by Miss Moneypenny, 6 by Mauricette, 27 by Florence, and it’s Ruby, our red hen, who is this month’s winner with 29 eggs.
We’re all melting in this part of France, hens included, with temperatures way too high to be comfortable. Today it’s 39.9°C in the shade. Hens don’t like the hot weather. For most, it puts them off their laying and for Miss Moneypenny, it makes her broody which means she’s sitting in a stifling coop, trying to hatch eggs that are infertile, since we don’t have a cockerel. I pick her up and make her go outside a couple of times each day, to make sure she drinks & eats, but as soon as my back is turned, she hurries back to the nesting boxes. And even when I’ve collected eggs, she sits all fluffed up in the nest and won’t budge.
Anyway . . . the above to say that egg count is lower than usual in the coop. I collected a total of 74 eggs for July. Mauricette laid 14. Miss Moneypenny laid 15. And the two younger gals battled it out for best layer of the month: Ruby laying 22 eggs and Florence 23.
Lots of lovely fresh eggs again from the coop, with gals laying a total of 88 for the month of June. Florence, the black hen strutting her stuff on left of photo, was our best layer with 27. Ruby, the red hen, just showing her fluffy bottom, came in second with 26. Miss Moneypenny, with her pretty speckled collar (right) laid 21, and Mauricette who is enjoying the shade under the coop only laid 14.
Yesterday it was time to tot up the egg tally for the month of May. The gals are all enjoying life in the orchard, in the shade of several apple trees. The ‘on-loan’ bee hive isn’t far (top right in photo) but bees and hens appear to be living in harmony.
It looks like Miss Moneypenny might be starting to get broody again (always seems to happen to her when weather stays warm) because she’s begun leaving a few fluffy feathers in the nesting box, but, she has also been laying really well. Total eggs count for May was: Mauricette – 20; Ruby – 26; Miss Moneypenny – 27; and this month’s winner is Florence with 28. Which makes a grand total of 101 eggs this month.
A few more photos, of future apples and pears.
Apples should be in abundance this year but we’re not counting our pears just yet.
I’m using a photo taken last month, of Ruby & Florence (both centre) . . . as today it’s raining and hens are all huddled together under a wooden shelter in their grassy orchard enclosure. Ruby & Florence are the best layers this month, with 28 eggs each. While Miss Moneypenny (just sneaking her beak in on left of photo here) laid 20 and Mauricette 17.
That makes a grand total of 93 eggs. Not as many as last month, but still plenty to go around!
Above is one of the little joys in life these days . . . the daily visit to the hen coop, and that magical moment, when I lift up the lid of the nest box, to collect fresh eggs of the day. Above photo has been a frequent event: four hens, and four eggs.
Our hens don’t know what’s going on in the world these days. They wake up, go about their business, and have been laying so well. Total number of eggs collected for March is 104. Yep, that’s right: one hundred and four eggs. Which means, what with confinement, and shops not necessarily having everything in stock, we and neighbours aren’t having to buy eggs. Thanks to our four gals, there are more than enough to go around.
Florence, our black Medicis hen, wins the best layer award for March with a staggering 31 eggs. Ruby (the red hen) was just behind with 30. Here they are in centre of photo.
And then Miss Moneypenny (with speckled collar) laid 23 and Mauricette (on right in second photo) laid 20.
Hens have been very productive as usual, much to the joy of neighbours. We collected 88 eggs in February, and since there’s only the husband and me at home, there’s no way we could eat our way through that lot!
Best layer of February is Ruby, our red hen, who laid a total of 28 eggs, only taking one day off. Florence wasn’t far behind, with 27, while Mauricette and Miss Moneypenny laid 17 and 16 respectively.
I recently showed you a photo of the hens on their plot of land in veggie patch with their new coop.
Not sure if I explained but that’s actually our THIRD coop! almost as many coops as hens lol. We move our hens about on different plots of land throughout the year, and the moving about, plus being outside in all weathers (including occasionally being blown over by gale force winds) means that coops constantly need maintenance or more serious repair.
When we first started our hen-keeping adventure we splashed out and bought quite a posh affair with a removeable shelter. This is what it looked like when brand new in March 2015
We very quickly decided that the little shelter part wasn’t terribly practical as it was. Too small to make a decent run for the hens, and too low for me to crawl about trying to put the food dispenser in & out. So . . . a few years later, both parts were separated, and we moved the shelter part out to the orchard, to join the second coop.
Its purpose there – to protect the food dispenser from the elements and to offer extra shade if the hens need it. Sadly, all the moving about of coop parts, plus strong winds, meant that this shelter was almost falling to pieces and not fit to serve another year. So we brought it into the veranda and the husband did some serious maintenance work, reinforcing here, water-proofing there . . . and then making something to make life easier for me. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves before I explain.
So . . . husband made a sliding system, whereby we can hang the food dispenser under the roof of shelter and then simply push the hook (therefore the food dispenser) back to the centre of the shelter where it will be protected from the elements. Thus saving my back, and meaning I no longer have to fold myself in two to crawl inside while holding a (very heavy when full) food dispenser.