hen happenings # april round up

photo from archives today, because camera battery isn’t charged up.  Time for the April tally of eggs in this part of the world!

All gals in fine fettle, and laying literally every day.  I say “literally” – a few days were taken off here and there, but not that it would be noticed.  4 hens laid a total of 115 eggs in 30 days.  Can’t complain about that, can we!

hen happenings # March round -up

Using a photo from the archives today, because it’s raining and I don’t want to get wet taking photos of bedraggled hens. I much prefer to use this photo from a few months ago, with their fluffy bottoms!

Hens must know that Spring is in the air because we’ve had the most productive month ever!  In the 31 days of March, four hens laid a total of 112 eggs !!!  Yes, that’s right! A whopping 112 eggs, all perfectly formed, no tiny misfires, and none with soft shells.  112 eggs that the husband and I couldn’t eat, just the two of us, so I’ve been distributing eggs, literally by the dozen, to neighbours!

hen happenings # february round up

Here’s Ruby (and Doris’ tail) today, looking lovely and golden, for the February tally of eggs.  All gals are in fine fettle, with lovely plumage and all laying well.  Total eggs for February: 95.  Needless to say, we and neighbours, have been making good use of their fresh offerings in the kitchen!

Elsewhere outside, Spring is in the air.

Bulbs are coming up everywhere and the primroses are already giving a pretty splash of colour.

For a 28th February temperatures are very mild. We’ve got blue skies and very bright sun today!

hen happenings # january roundup

Hens have been keeping us well supplied with eggs this month.  One little misfire along the way – no idea who laid that – but for January we had a total of 94 eggs which was plenty.

I’ve only recently discovered that it is possible to make rather yummy sweet GF pancakes, using 100g of Maizena for 100g of special mix of GF flours, which is an excellent way of using up some eggs.

and another year begins! (catch up)

Hello everyone!  I’ve been a bit quiet, simply because we were enjoying some family time with Mr & Mrs Tattoo, who we hadn’t seen in over 12 months.   They’ve left now though, so the house is quiet once more . . . and I’ll be getting back into my normal routine.

I’m not making any resolutions this year. I’ll just be doing what I fancy, when I fancy.  As the new year begins, I have two cross stitch projects on the go, plus one knitting project on my needles.  And some ideas bouncing around in my head for up-coming projects, which will be revealed as they happen.

I forgot to do a December egg-count . . .

so, using photo from last month, I can say that hens were in fine fettle for December and laid a total of 101 eggs !!!!

Restoration work was completed on the church Saint Georges, just before the festive season.  Following photos taken on 23rd December – just look at that blue sky!!


I finished a diamond painting.

and I can also reveal some secret crafting that happened in December.

a set of six placemats designed and made especially for my brother-in-law.  I don’t think I need to add that he is of Greek descent lol.  Suffice it to say, he was thrilled to bits with these.

Three pairs of mittens flew off my crochet hook (using the pattern by Loopy Mabel, but adding a thumb).

in Stylecraft Special DK (petrol blue, grey & black) for sister-in-law, niece and friend.

and a scrappy placemat for the same friend.

Scraphappy # december

It’s the last scrappy link up for the year, linking with

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJule,
Gwen, Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear,
Carol, Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Esther

and it’s the husband who’s the star of the show today.  Like Jon, of this group, the husband enjoys messing about with “men tools” and had his very own pallet gate adventure.   We didn’t have a proper gate around the net fencing on our hen coop. Just used to move part of the netting every day to nip in, but the husband decided we needed something more permanent (after 5 years of hen-keeping).

and this is what he made.  Had to buy two hinges, and fixed it to a sturdy wooden post (with net fencing being secured with blue twine to the post).

It does the job perfectly!

I, in the meantime, was busy with needle & thread, not to mention recycling some @m@zon cardboard packaging . . . and finished off a small batch of xmas decorations.

hen happenings # november round up

Hello, well it’s 1st December already, so time to do a November round-up of hen happenings in this neck of the woods.  All four gals are happy & healthy.  And Ruby is looking (almost) splendid with her new feathers.

Ruby is the red hen on the left. Easy to differentiate from Doris, because Ruby has quite a few dark brown feathers at the end of her tail, and she’s also slightly smaller in size.  There are still a few spikey bits on her head, but I think you’ll agree the scrawny look is behind us (until the next moult).

On the egg-laying front, gals are not firing on all cylinders.  Some days there are 3 eggs to collect. The one top centre here was a double-yolker – I’m pretty sure that was laid by Rita.  Most days there are only 2 eggs in the nesting box.  It seems they’re taking it turns to lay but, with 4 hens, that still gave us a total of 67 eggs for November.  Since I took the above photos we had our first snowfall – hens not too happy about that.

hen happenings # october round-up

Well the last month, things have been hunky dory in the hen enclosure.  The new gals took a few weeks to settle in, and it took Ruby just as long to accept their presence, but the four of them seem to be getting along nicely now.

It certainly didn’t take the newbies long to recognise the reuseable ice-cream tub as meaning “treats” every day.  Depending on what leftovers we have, here they are enjoying some GF pasta from our dinner the night before.  Anyway, we’ve had eggs in a variety of shapes and sizes in October, including several double yolkers!  There have also been broken eggs because someone (I don’t know who) insists on letting drop from a perch instead of laying in the nesting box.   Agatha, our black & tan, hasn’t even worked out how to perch yet. So, while the other 3 all spend the night balancing on the same perch, Agatha just sleeps in a corner of the coop on the sawdust covered floor.

Anyway, total of eggs collected this month (including the broken ones) was an all-time low. Only 60 eggs for October, despite having 4 hens!  The good news . . . Ruby’s feathers are finally growing back and she’s looking like a red hen again.

I think you’ll agree that Ruby’s appearance now (on the left) is a fast improvement of what she looked like late September (below).

best layer of the month # september

After the events of last week, with “murder in a French orchard” we went out and bought 3 new laying hens to keep Ruby company.  Hens are back in the veggie garden coop, so they’re closer to the house and (we hope) safer.

Anyway, before I do the introductions . . . first, let me tot up the number of eggs this month.  Before their untimely deaths on 23rd Sept, Mauricette had laid 12 eggs  and Florence had laid 18.  Ruby, understandably, has been a bit off her laying since, what with seeing two hens killed before her eyes, and then having 3 new companions arrive.  She laid a total of 21 eggs this month.  Big surprise, only a few days after the new girls arrived – they started laying.  Only tiny eggs for now, but we’ve had a total of 13 small eggs in the last 7 days.    Which makes a total of 64 eggs for September.   I think in future, I’ll stop the “best layer” posts, and simply do a monthly round-up of hen life.  I haven’t been able to identify who is laying what, so from October, I’ll just do a monthly hen & egg-count update.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to the new hens!

Here they are, on day 3, when they finally felt brave enough to come down the ramp and start exploring.

This is Doris – a red hen.  She doesn’t appear to have the same dark brown tail feathers as Ruby, and she’s a darker red, so I shouldn’t have any trouble telling the two apart when Ruby’s feathers all grow back.

Agatha is a black & tan.  She seems the less adventurous of the three.   She’s also quite happy to be picked up for a stroke.

And finally,

Rita who is a French blue.  She’s a much lighter silver grey than Mauricette (who was also a French blue) but, like Mauricette, she is a very large bird.

We had some fun & games in the first days. Despite clipping flight feathers on left wing, on the 3 new gals, they were managing to helicopter out of the enclosure.  But after adding some extra netting higher up, we seem to have solved our Houdini problem.  There is also a certain amount of confusion at bed-time with Rita heading up the ramp, closely followed by Doris, then Agatha . . . only for Rita to turn around at the top and want to come back down. This causes a hen-jam on the ramp before Rita does another 180° turn and goes to bed properly.  It’s early days yet though.  On the whole, they seem to have settled in very well.

murder in a French orchard

A very unwelcome bit of excitement in our part of the French countryside yesterday . . .

I’ll spare the gore but, heading to the orchard yesterday at noon, to collect eggs and have a chat with the hens, I was very surprised not to see all three out pecking & scratching in their enclosure in the shade of the apple trees.    Everything was eerily quiet . . . and the only hen visible was Ruby, looking scrawny & hen-pecked as usual, but also acting worried and wary.  At first, I thought the other two were in the nesting box, but no.  Coop & nesting box were empty.  It was only then that I noticed , in one corner of the enclosure . . .  a pile of feathers and a corpse:  Mauricette.  No visible signs of injury, just dead, on her side. On further inspections, in another corner of the enclosure, I found a different pile of feathers

but no corpse.  That would have been Florence (missing, presumed dead).

We took Gibbs out in the orchard, where he sniffed and followed a scent trail which stopped at the boundaries of the orchard and a neighbour’s garden.  We even had Moka, a neighbour’s labrador) out in the orchard, who sniffed and followed the exact same scent trail as Gibbs.  There were more Florence feathers the other side of the fence . . . so with our Sherlock Holmes cap on (plus the husband googling fox hunting habits) we deduce that deaths were caused by a fox even though it occured in broad daylight.

We’d been lucky up until now.  We’ve lived here for 7 years, and kept hens for 6 years.  This is the first time hens have fallen prey to a predator.  Anyway . . . Ruby, as I say, was completely shell-shocked yesterday, poor thing.  Yesterday evening, we moved her back to the hen coop in the veggie garden.  And I got on the phone to our usual hen breeder.

This morning we went and collected 3 new laying hens:  a black & tan, a red hen, and a French blue.  I’ll show you photos as soon as they’re settled in and brave enough to leave the coop.  In the meantime, Ruby is even more worried, because of the 3 strange birds in the coop.

Saying that, it didn’t stop her laying an egg in the nesting box earlier today!  I hope she gets on well with the new hens and that her plumage eventually grows back to its former glory.