Raising a happy, healthy flock and successfully growing veggies, using tips both old and new!
Gardens are not often looking their best at this time of year, so try planting cotinus coggygria (smoke bush), vaccinium corymbosum (high-bush blueberry), Euonymus alatus (winged spindle), sorbus hupehensis (hupeh rowan) or Mahonia X media for beautiful foliage during the garden's quieter months. If you have a small garden or one that does not have the available space for a tree like the hupeh rowan, then Vitis coignetiae, a deciduous climber, is a great alternative. Although its branches can reach up to 15ft long when clambering up a tree, grown on a pergola or wall, it can easily be kept in check with winter pruning. I have two smoke bushes and a mahonia in the garden, and they do well underneath the beech and silver birch. They appear un fased by the poor, acidic soil, and definitely brighten the garden even on the dullest days. I would highly reccomend any of the above plants to add interest at a time where other plants fail.
This Christmas decoration is perfect as a gift or for your own, or maybe even your chickens' Christmas tree. They are perfect for showing off your hens beautiful feathers
Hens soon establish a pecking order and any introduced into the flock will start at the bottom, so in order to prevent bullying never introduce just one hen but always two or more. Hens can be very unkind to newcomers at first, pecking and chasing them off the food, but they will soon settle in. Gamefowl and Asian gamefowl can often only be kept in a pair or trio, as they are so aggressive newcomers will never be accepted. The pecking order is definitely the centre of chicken dramas, with great splits between the boss chuck and the under-hen, resulting in many squabbles prior to the order being decided upon, but although it may seem ferocious, chickens quickly settle down in their place of the pecking order.
Pekin bantams have always been one of my favorite breeds, they were my first ever chickens of my own. I can still clearly see them pecking around now: Honeysuckle, the sweetest little buff, Polly, the puffball of gold partridge, Lavender, the, you guessed it, lavender, hurrying around the yard after me and Conker, the most wonderful gold partridge cockerel ever to grace this earth! That little flock did well and Polly had a few successful hatches, the most famous have to be Sergeant Steve and Sir Sid, the latter of the two still lives, despite having to fight off a fox and getting his tail removed whilst being chased by a badger. Their lovely, comical feet are always the talking point of the flock, and I do not think anyone has not laughed at them.
The pekin is classed as a true bantam, basically, there is no large equivalent. They are often known as bantam cochins in the US. They are said to have been imported by soldiers looting the emperor of China's palace in peking in 1860. Because of there fluffy feet they supposedly 'dig up the garden less' codswallop if you ask me! they are always going broody, and make excellent mothers, whether to their own chicks or your runner ducklings, which makes them useful as an incubator and brooder for those obsessive breeders out there, me included. They can make the most wonderful pets, provided, just like all animals, they get a bit of regular handling, they are so easy to tame, when you crack 'em, they become your shadow, but maybe they're just in it for the treats! Pekins are total fluffy balls of cuteness, this makes them, as well as being the perfect cushion, easy to contain in a roofless run.
My two current Pekienoodles representing the breed, uh oh, are Lavender the second (she was called Lilac, but the name just didn't stick), and Cookie dough a.k.a. Cookie.They are a Lavender pekin and a millefleur pekin. They are both sweeties, but it is very clear who wears the trousers. Millefleur trousers to be precise (sorry, awful joke :) )When we went to pick up the posh bantams, i.e, the ones who weren't our experimental cross 'mutt chucks', we quickly noticed who was in charge. Cookie had all the space in the carry cage and was pecking anybody who stepped out of line, with the other three backed into a corner, she was stretched out across the cage like an emperor!
I think a pekin deserves a place in every flock, they're really child friendly and are a perfect beginners bird, forgiving, gentle and friendly. Probably not the perfect breed for someone looking for an amazingly productive egg layer, and not the best choice if you aim to be self sufficient and don't have the room for a bit if a freeloader. That being said, they are a great breed for a small garden or backyard flock that isn't into chickens purely for the eggs/meat. There cuddleability factor is 100%, and in my book, that's a keeper!
Pumpkin and squash harvesting season is nearly over for the year, but that does not affect my gourd appreciation or willingness to sing their praises. They come in so many different shapes, sizes, colours and textures, and you get the greatest satisfaction from growing them, you end up with an enormous fruit. But what really gives them the thumbs up from me, is that the flock just love them! I got up one morning and went down into the kitchen, where I discovered that one of the dogs had destroyed part of one of the Halloween pumpkins! She had rip off the top and eaten a bit of the insides. I scooped it up and took it outside, as I planned to give it to the wild birds. Whilst I filled up the chooks' feeder I put the pumpkin on the ground beside me. When I looked back at it, swarms of little chucks had gathered around it and were tucking into it greedily! I am so embarrassed that I had not thought of giving pumpkin or squash to them before, but perhaps it was fate! So when you plan next years veg garden, spare a thought for those feathered friends for life - your chickens.
Exactly a week ago today I brought home three new Crested Cream legbars so I thought I would gives some useful hints about introducing new birds to a flock. Most people won't have another run to put their new arrivals in like the one on the left, but that arrangement is ideal. However I understand that most won't be in this situation, so just putting a strip of chicken wire across the run separating one end with the newbies from the other is a good compromise. Either situation means that the chickens can safely meet through the wire without getting picked on. Keeping the hens apart for a few days is best so that they can get used to the others. When it gets dark, picking them up and placing them in the house is good, because it gets them used to going to bed while they are drowsy and less flighty. If you are unable to do either of the above techniques, placing them in the run under the cover of darkness is always a good plan.
This Saturday we are driving to my Grandparents' house in the neighboring county. We will have lunch and possibly a game of cards before getting back into the car and driving another half hour to what I'd call the 'real' destination; a small chicken breeder, a lovely lady named Libby. Her small scale operation specialises in Light sussex, warrens, speckledys, bluebells, black rocks and, what I am going for, cream crested legbars. Two weeks before mum and I had made a nerve racking phone call to someone we knew nothing about and we couldn't even find a website for, let alone a reference, so, after a tense wait, someone answered the phone. Our worries were unfounded, it turned out, and we finished the phone call having reserved 3 gorgeous little ladies!
Cream Crested Legbars are an auto-sexing breed of chicken, meaning that when they hatch you can tell which are the girls and which are the boys.This is a great characteristic and one which I may use to expand the flock, getting day old chicks that are girls, and putting them under one of my constantly broody bantams is a very tempting plan. But what really drew them to me were their beautiful green blue eggs they lay. First created by crossing brown leghorns with barred rocks and adding a splash of araucana meant they carried the blue egg gene. An egg to rival green eggs and ham? I certainly think so!
Watch this space for more updates on the new girls, as well as tips for new arrivals and wether I have kept to just my blue layers, or have any other ladies stolen my heart and joined the gang.
Want cabbage success from seed to table? Then follw my simple steps for fullproof brassicas.
And there you have it, cabbage growing for dummies! Please comment if I have missed anything out, I am always wanting to improve my growng strategies,
Hi everyone, just thought I would post a couple of pics from the garden, please excuse the photo sizes, the computer is being a bit mad! R
Hello everyone! I'm very excited as this is my first blog post! Growing Pains is aimed at those who don't necessarily have all the time in the world for gardening or chicken keeping, and those on a small budget, anyone and everyone. I am only thirteen, so school is a major factor of my life, and consumes a large chunk of my time, but many blogs I have read appear to make you dedicate your life to the hobby, so Growing Pains is here to change things.
I will try and post twice a week at least, alternating from gardening to chickening. See you on the other side, Amy.
Hi, I'm Amy. My combined love of gardening and chicken keeping has inspired me to share my adventures with others. It took me a while to realize how important these two things are to me. I found a peace and tranquility from being in the garden, with a sun - bathing chicken stretched out beside me, and bees buzzing around the flower and vegetable beds. The satisfaction I received from just an emerging shoot was indescribable, or the head of a chick, not long hatched appearing through its mother's feathers. Something I love about gardening is the way you can enjoy it, even in the smallest garden, or window ledge you can grow mint or some basil, not much, but more than capable of lifting the spirits high above the clouds. So join me on my journey of self, chicken and garden discovery, whether you live in a sprawling country manor house or a shoe box flat.