Bumblefoot and Lily’s Blue Shoes

One of our hens has been lying down a lot more than usual during the day, prompting us to check her feet. We discovered this morning that both feet had brown scabs in the middle of each foot pad. This, along with swelling between the toes, are classic symptoms of bumblefoot. Naturally, this was the reason for her being reluctant to stand for long periods of time. It’s such a shame, Lily does not have the prettiest hen feet in town, some of her claws are missing (presumably due to the wire cage floor she endured whilst in the battery farm) and now she has bumblefoot to contend with.

Lily was seen by a vet this morning who specialises in farm animals. She was admitted to have both bumbles removed, the vet agreed that the cause was most probably from being on wire previously. We were terribly worried about her having gas as birds can easily slip away whist under. Lily is now home and doing very well considering. Fingers crossed she continues to improve, its been a worrying day.

Both her feet are in dressings now and these need to stay in place for the next few days to give her feet a chance to heal without getting dirty, mammoth task really as those who keep hens will realise.

Rose our resident clown hen never fails to make us laugh. On our return from the vets Rose noticed Lily’s blue shoes, she lifted both her feet to see if she had some on too (which of course she does not) then proceeded to protest very loudly.

Hens!

Runners Beans!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Success with the runner beans this year. There are more beans on the plants as well as the ones that can be seen in the photo, enough for a few meals at least. Note to self, sow them earlier next year.

That Autumnal Feeling

Its official, Autumn is upon us. I love the feel of autumn, the colours and the freshness of it. Autumn makes everything pop out at you and make you take notice, like morning dew on cobwebs for instance. I am up with the larks to let the hens out before they start shouting for me, and this morning the dew covered cobwebs put on a spectacular display, twinkling and sparkling in the morning sun.

Our vegetable garden is winding down to the point that we have nothing left to harvest, the only veg looking at all respectable are unripe chillies and runner beans, trying desperately to produce something before the frosts come. The last of the carrots have been dug up and enjoyed and I only wish that we had been a little more daring with the amount sown. I spent some time this morning casting my eyes over the veg or rather lack of and making plans in my head whilst cradling one of the bunnies. Our neighbours must think I have lost the plot.

The hens all produced today and I had to wince at the size of Rose’s egg, what a whopper. Still, at least breakfast is covered.

Sunshine and Cleaning

Another warm sunny day today so we spent most of it in the garden smallholding doing the cleaning out chores. Rabbits first and then on to tackle the chicken coop. The overnight poops are cleaned out every morning along with a quick check of the nest boxes to see if they have been soiled. They are cleaned if need be so the coop is pretty much a straight forward job when the full clean out is due. Thankfully the red mite that made an appearance during the short hot spell this summer have well and truly cleared off, so we are continuing to use Diatom powder and Poultry Shield as a preventative measure. Luckily we realised quite early that red mite had moved into the coop so they were not too difficult to get rid of. Next spring / summer we will know what to look out for and how to treat if they decide to make an appearance.

We have noticed that the change in weather and season (its been autumn for a while now hasn’t it?) has slightly affected egg production in the last few weeks, but still plenty of eggs to provide the family. This will be our first winter of chicken keeping and we are yet to see if all our hens stop laying completely during the coming months. Hopefully winter will be mild to make up for the wash out of a summer!

Spent Hens?

We have been keeping a record of how many eggs per month our hens are producing, with surprising results. In May they produced 171 eggs, and also the same total for June. July has been the record so far, 179. August they produced 161, a couple of blips here and there but still a steady amount. They have laid a staggering 790 eggs to date including April and the first half of this month. This is obviously far more than we need to feed our family of 4 so the eggs have been gratefully received by family, friends and neighbours. We have swapped them for vegetables, given them away as gifts and sold a few at the gate.

Spent hens? I think not!

Non Starter Runners

Our runner beans have been a bit of a disaster this year, probably for 2 reasons. Firstly I sowed them way too late only for the bean seed to be gobbled below soil level, so our daughter (having more determination than I) potted up some new beans and voila they sprouted. Then I took over and planted them out and it all went kind of wrong from there. Well I blame the weather, ok ok a combination of my failure to get them sown on time AND the bad weather. Am I getting away with it?!
 
Well I was all ready to throw in the towel earlier this week and dig the stringy-lanky-lazy-buggers up, they deserve it they have not produced one bean, plenty of pretty flowers but no beans. Just before they were about to meet their maker I noticed some very small pods forming right at the very top. Maybe my constant moaning and fist waving at them has done the trick, I dont know but its very odd. I have been keeping the outside lights on longer at night than usual to help guide me in the dark whilst locking up the chicken coop after the hens have gone to bed. I wonder if the extra light or the heat from the bulbs has caused this sudden urge to produce? Either way I dont think the pods will come to much now.

A Little Ray Of Sunshine

After the miserable weather and constant heavy downpours I was grateful to get out in the garden today in bright warming sunshine. Its days like this that I appreciate the sun and warm weather, rather than constantly moaning that I am too hot. I know the crops and garden needs it but im not a sun worshipper anymore, not now that im all grown up and in my 30’s! Dont get me wrong I like the sun but I dont like the heat. I shade worship now.

Not much to do at the moment veg wise, everything is winding down. We hope to grow alot more next season, this year was really an experiment to see if we could manage to grow anything at all. Crops that were successful enough to feed us a couple of meals were peas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes (although I didnt think much of the variety) and french bean. Failures were aubergine, runner bean, one bell pepper managed to grow to the size of a golf ball and our chillies did not ripen in time so I guess they are a failure also.

The plan is to plan more rather than growing things on a whim and hoping for the best. Early days yet, so much to learn and so many more mistakes to make. As long as we learn from them its ok. Wish we had done it years ago!

Chickens

I have always wanted to keep chickens and never thought I would be able to. I mean, chicken keeping is for country folk right?…. Wrong! So many people these days are getting in on the act and clearing an area in their suburban back garden and plonking an eglu or ark in it.

We collected our very first hens on a cold April morning from a car park full of people waiting patiently with pet boxes and crates. Odd you may think but this was an organised rescue meet and becoming very popular thanks to programmes and personalities on TV such as Chicken Out and Jamie Oliver for example.

The 6 ladies in question are all ex battery hens rescued from their tiny cage after spending 12-18 months doing very little other than eating, pooing and laying. They have been with us now for nearly 5 months and its been a joy to care for them and watch them learn to do chickeny things like scratch and flap, peck and dustbathe. In fact they spurred us on in a way to get involved in being more self sufficient, to get out there and dig the soil so to speak. So whilst watching them learn about their new lives, we have learned a great deal from them about ours!

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