THE MARSHALL'S CHICKENS...


Well after reading another blog about Chickens (see my links)
We decided that it was most certainly acceptable to keep chickens as a hobby.
Despite one or two of our neighbours moaning behind our backs and behind closed doors we went ahead and welcomed into our garden four hens..
Harriet - Sapphire - Speckle - Amber
Sometimes you just have to accept that you can please some of the people some of the time and for the rest of it ... well, get a life...
GET A CHICKEN!!

Having now moved out into the countryside we have no neighbours so have 13 hens and 2 very nosey cockerals!!



HERE IS MY OWN DIARY OF A CHICKEN LOVER...

Firstly a huge " THANK YOU" to JUDE SCOTT at
COTWOLD CHICKENS - This lady was really helpful and gave us loads of time, useful and advice and support.

I would recommend going to visit JUDE AT COTSWOLD CHICKENS HAWTHORN STUD SOUTH NEWINGTON BANBURY
If you too like us feel the need to expand your knowledge and desire for the good life!

MEET THE MARSHALL HENS..

BOVAN GOLDLINES
AMBER STARS

BLACK STARS
SPECKLED STAR
BLUEBELL

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Productive days...


Well we seem to be at full production with between 8 and 11 eggs daily. We have three different laying areas which all seem to be safe from the 'egg eating dogs!'

I have been busy trying to get some pictures of our hens and their 'men' but was having trouble keeping the cat out of the picture!






Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Daily delivery...

Well we seem to be averaging ten eggs a day now which means 3 hens aren't laying or i can't find them or...Roo is eating them before I can get to them!

If I hazard a guess i say Roo was eating them.. I have to somehow try and justify the hideous odour from his rear end of an evening.

The two favourite places are the horse box which the dogs cannot get into and the horse shelter which they won't go in.




They have all settled in lovely now and spend most of their time dust bathing or wandering around the horses paddock, which is great as it means my plants aren't getting abused.


Today I took some of them all and they all enjoyed posing for the camera!







Bark chippings - ha what fun THEY have!

And last but not least today my favorite picture... Daisey our 'MOTHER HEN' with Francesca.


Monday, 23 March 2009

TODAYS COLLECTION....







These are the eggs just brought in from the garden - the down side to free-range hens is that you do have to go look for the eggs! They have four places that we know they lay in so hopefully we won't miss too many!

Missing pieces...

Well I am going to try and update quickly and without too much complication!

We moved from the residential town area last Easter after selling our house and moving to the countryside so we could have more privacy, peace and less moaning from neighbours. The house we were originally moving too fell through so we stop gaped at another and continued to search for a lonely house with approx 3/4 acres.

Eight months later we found it - it was the original house that we wanted! So now we have our Horses, Joe and Sunny, our pigs Branston & Pickle two dogs, two cats, load of fish (which I have to mention or the boys get upset) and Oliver our snake.

Unfortunately Jemina our duck fell hopelessly in love and we left her on the neighbours lake..

As we now had no neighbours I wanted to get my 'girls' a Cockerel as 'Chebal' upset too many in Heyford and had to go back.

This time it was only us that would be disturbed... I advertised on Free-cycle and ended up with two and six more hens!!

The new hens were a little tatty to say the least but that's was due to 'estate living' and slight over crowing I think, and not because they hadn't been loved. They were up for re-homing because the couple wanted to claim back their garden as they were expecting a baby in July.
Sad but lots of people don't think forward to the ifs and buts....

They were shocked and amazed by all the grass the the ability to roam but were obviously happy because the following day 4/5 laid beautiful eggs. One of them a pure China white..

One of the white hens has no tail feathers (she is in one of the pictures I have posted, she looks like a large Quail!) and her butt was rather red and sore, she appeared to be the target for all the others so I put her in with mine knowing they would at first be grumpy about it, but would they adjust and look after her. A little tea-tree cream on the butt and all seems to be looking good and sprouting feathers! :)

We now have two camps and sometimes they all come together but mostly live in separate halves of the garden/paddock.

They roost in two separate coups which we shut up at night due to the foxes... (well and the fact the Cockerels would have us up at 4.30!!)

Oh nearly forgot to mention Daisey... Now Daisey is how this whole chicken thing started and it was her that I was asked to look after whilst her owners went on holiday. Sadly her best hen friend died and her owner asked if I would take her on as she wasn't ready to get another one yet.

Of course as I appear to now be 'Chicken Rescue' I couldn't say no.

She has been so funny. Again never been free range or see dogs/cats/horses etc but she has so got the measure of everything and is a real character.. she chases Roo our puppy Labrador and takes it upon herself to come in the house whenever the door is left open!

A WHOLE NEW WORLD....







Here are some pictures from yesterday that I took of our older chickens and the new ones slowly adjusting to the space!
The two Cocks had a little moment but they have sorted out their own little group of women and now seem quite happy...



Monday, 16 March 2009

***NEWS UPDATE.....***

I know and I am sorry to those of you that follow my tales that I have neglected the site...
However tomorrow is another day and I plan to fully update you of our move and new stock.. because "DAVE" we have PIGS too!!

We now have 13 hens and two cockerals..
We have a small holding with pigs and our horses too. They are all happy and living in harmony with the dogs and cat's as well.

With a Free Range wander of approx 4 acres they seem to be keeping themselves busy..

Watch this space.

Monday, 29 September 2008

'The Escape Artist & The Mystery Eggs.....'

Firstly I have to apologise to my children about the 'Mystery eggs' in the front garden..
'Sorry Boys'

Now I will explain...
Speckle one of our first original chickens has taken it upon herself to escape into the front garden and wander around at will... we don't know how she is managing it and she appears to have no accomplice. But having witness the next paragraph with my own eyes you'll understand why I have had to apologise to my boys.

It was on returning home from school one afternoon last week that I noticed an egg on the driveway and then another on the grass just before the front doorstep.

I had given Harrison the keys for the front door so he could open up whilst I unloaded the shopping and Francesca in her car seat.

The boys went in ahead of me and then returned to help carry things in. It was a this point that I was convinced that for whatever reason the three of them had brought eggs out into the garden! How else had they got there?

On pleading innocence and asking how and why they would lay eggs on the driveway without breaking them I had to admit it didn't add up.

However I was still suspicious that maybe they were all in it together trying to make me feel slightly mad/confused!!

It was yesterday that all was revealed....
As I looked out of the window and observed Speckle wandering around the front garden all on her own after obviously escaping again, I witnessed her squat and lay an egg!
This was also being witnessed by our dog 'Tigger' who to my utter amazement went over to the warm and very fresh egg and promptly ate the whole thing - shell and all! If I hadn't of seen it with my own eyes then I would never of believed it...

Ten minutes later Speckle had laid another one and then returned to the back garden to her fellow hens.. how and where she does this we have yet to discover...

I did manage to get to the second egg before Tigger so she was not best pleased..
So that was the 'Mystery solved'.......

TALKING OF BROODY....

We have a Broody hen....
Its one of our Back Star's and strangely enough this is the third time she has become broody and a complete nightmare to the rest of the hens.

The first time it happened was just before I went into hospital to have our daughter in July. Spooky that she should be feeling the same. She would harass all the other hens straight after they had laid their eggs and if they didn't get out of the coup quite enough after laying she would actually sit on top of them!

This was when the trouble first started as several really didn't not appreciate it at all. Three of the girls started laying elsewhere in the garden which was a pain because you had to go and find them in the dense undergrowth of blackberry bushes!

The others would peck and chase her.

My husband was regularly pecked and loudly clucked at when he went to collect the eggs from underneath her and the children just refused because she would chase them!

The only way we have found to solve the problem is to isolate her from the others into another coup all on her own for three or four days. Then we have to watch the others when we reintroduce her as they don't always accept her readily.

She doesn't lay during this period just trys to be surrogate to the other hens eggs.
My husbands jokes her days are numbered unless she starts to produce again!!
Watch this space....

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

NOT A CHICKEN...BUT A DUCK!

Yes you read right - we have a new addition - not a chicken a duck called 'Jemima' or 'Jem'

for short. She's no particular breed just pretty and finding her feet in the garden with the chickens. It was a Little noisy to start but all seems quiet on the waterfront now!

Monday, 1 September 2008

BACK AT LAST...

Firstly let me apologise for the lack of updates - but on July 10th this year after Brooding myself we have become the proud parents of a baby daughter!







Now I know she's NOT a chicken but I am officially a 'MOTHER HEN!'



On the chicken front we are doing fine - One of our hens became broody when we acquired our Cockerel and slowly did the others! Combined with 4am Cock-a-doodle-dooing and hens that stopped laying a decision was made that although a beautiful addition to our flock he had to go...


Fear not he went to a loving home where he was allowed his wicked way with more hens that he could wish for.

It took approximately 4 weeks for the hens to get over their brooding to which there were several bitchy moments over sitting on someones else's eggs, but we have survived and all seems well in the coup.
We have invested in a new coup which looks great - they don't use it like they are supposed too and prefer to all cram together on one side but hey they have the choice. Two of them actually prefer to roost in the trees in the garden, we will have to see what the winter brings!


Twice in the last week we have had huge eggs - one weighed in at 114g our usual ones are between 58-64! Todays was 103g No wonder there was a lot of commotion. I complained giving birth to our daughter - 'once!' to have to do it again a couple of days later doesn't bear thinking about...

Brogan ate the other large one this morning - boiled with soldiers, to everyone's surprise it was a 'single yolker'





















Monday, 7 April 2008

NEW ARRIVALS


We have moved house and the lure of adding to our brood was too great, so as we now have plenty of room to extend our family we decided to pay Cotswold Chickens a visit...

The previous owners of our property also kept chickens so it was already 'chicken proof' and had plenty of room to add a 'couple' more...

After checking out availability on the Internet we (the boys and I) embarked on our trip to choose a 'couple' (AS IN TWO) more hens...

On arrival we were all drawn to the nosiest area... looking inside we all saw and fell instantly for a very grand COCKEREL who was being preened by a host of young pullets.

Now at the is point I would like to stress that as I recall my head was definitely saying 'NO!'
But my mouth was not in synchronisation and my mouth was saying 'YES!' Before I knew it three very excited young boys were carrying a Cockerel now named 'Chabel' (after Sebastian Chabel the french rugby player) to the boot of our car!


'CHABEL THE GRAND COCKEREL!'
As we had come for hens we then moved on to choose what we had come for!

We choose another Bovan Goldline - Meet 'Ruby'....

Then the second selection was made and we chose an Amber Lee which is supposed to be the updated version of our Amber Star..

Meet 'Snow-drop' She has a very long neck and an impressive covering of very white feathers.

The snow came the following day and it was very interesting to see the reaction of all the chickens.. our original hens are moulting so they all have bear bottoms! Not very nice when the snow is deep and your bum hangs low!!


OUR THREE NEW ARRIVALS.....


HARRIET AND AMBER TWO OF OUR ORIGINAL HENS IN THE SNOW

I will continue with this update later when my computer decides that it will cooperate!!

Friday, 4 January 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We went away for Christmas as usual, and as daft as it seems we all really missed the "girls"
The boys missed collecting the eggs for breakfast and I actually missed the 7.50 awakening call!
Our neighbour willingly offered to look after the girls whilst we were away in exchange for the eggs!
They are all still laying a minimum of 4 eggs and a day and still occasionally 6 or 7.
All have their feathers but appear increasingly hungry, not happy to turn over the vast majority of our garden they regularly escape onto the patio and dig out my pots and what is supposed to be decorative stones...
Amber even comes up and taps on the patio door and will strut in pass the dogs and into the kitchen. She really is a trouble maker that one.
They enjoy their treat of sweetcorn and pasta and even like an apple now and then.
I brought some insulation for the shed roof because I was worried about the cold and once I had lined the roof with it, discovered that they obviously didn't like it because they would roost on in the usual roosting spot.. I think it was because reflective bubble wrap tin-foil stuff. I have since taken it down and all is back to normal - Roger did say I was worrying too much and that they always felt really warm where they all cuddle up together.
Well I have to finish sorting out the house and will try and get some pictures with my new camera... I'm still waiting for the snow they have promised!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

EGGS, EGGS & MORE EGGS!

Well on Monday when I went to collect the eggs after the boys had left for school there was 5 in the nest... um I thought who forgot to collect yesterday? But then on Wednesday and Thursday (today) I checked and cleaned out the chickens at 9.30 and there there none - but at 10.45 there were 7!!
YES NUMERO 7 !!
I was amazed.. I telephoned Jude Scott to check that this was normal and she said "normal but quite rare!"
They must be very happy chickens with a great diet she added, keep hold of them!
None of them appear to be getting ready to moult and November 5th didn't have any impact on their laying (unlike another lady at the local pet shop who had asked my advice because hers were looking a bit tatty and had stopped laying.)
So we are very lucky as now we can both swap eggs for Pheasants (thanks Chris over the road) and meet demand for cakes, omelette's, eggy bread, dippy egg, scrambled egg and chocolate mousse!

Thursday, 18 October 2007


Turf update...

I thought I'd take some pictures of our beautiful green grass and then I realised we didn't have any!
The turf looked beautiful in September and now it looks like this!




We have had to section of a smaller part of the garden for the chickens to allow rotation of the grass, this is what the chicken free grass looks like!

I have to say in their defence that the wet weather has not helped at all, and as they like to scratch up the ground for worms its been really hard for the grass to hang in there!
Hopefully as nature takes its course it will reproduce and re-emerge through their poop!

This is what the divide looks like... you can see just how far they manage to get their heads through..

Our lawn has never really been a lawn.. with the dogs the boys , the pool and then the trampoline its always had a real hard life so I am not too bothered.

If you have a bowling green for a lawn don't keep chickens!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Wet Chickens

I was under the impression that although chickens enjoyed the joys of what rain brings - (worms and more worms with puddles of mud to scratch around in)) they didn't really like getting really wet?
Our hens were absolutely soaked yesterday and despite having every opportunity to shelter from the pouring rain they didn't.
I also read that if they were caught out in the rain then it could effect egg production? This doesn't happen with our hens either!
I did however round then up and put them into their covered run because they looked so pathetic and wet.
They protested with quite a lot of noise for the 1st ten minutes and then realised that I wasn't going to come back out in the rain because I DO NOT enjoy getting soaked.
The new turf that I laid at the beginning of September no longer really exists, there is a really funny cropped line about 4 inches from the fence where they can get their heads through and peck the good grass that is left!
I am hoping that once it starts to get a bit dryer and the ground isn't so soggy and scratchable then it may recover to some extent - we can all have dreams!
Eggs production is still 4 a day and I can say that 50% are double yokers' the yokes are so bright even Harrison's cookery teacher commented.
We have regular orders from friends now and I have even started to design our own egg boxes!
When the design is complete I will post the results...

Thursday, 11 October 2007

A VISITOR FOR THE HENS....

GREEN GRASS!!!
Today the girls had a visitor - & I would assume that this was their 1st encounter with the small prickly kind? They all took turns in having a peck and following it around the garden and then lost interest really quickly.








It was however really nice to see that hedgehogs are also present in our urban garden.






Tuesday, 25 September 2007

RE:Landscaping...




Well Roger went off to France last Friday to watch the Rugby World Cup and promised on his return to get the garden finished with me.


Last Thursday I dug up the whole lawn area to a depth of about 6 inches and then wondered what on earth I had done!


The chickens loved it. Regularly they manged to get their tiny little necks placed between the prongs of the fork in a bid to get the worm they had spied. I couldn't use the spade because it would of been like a gulitine! Roger thinks they are all stupid - I prefer trusting...


I gave them Friday, Saturday and Sunday a.m to sieve, level and break down any large lumps. They did me proud! It would of taken me forever to sieve the soil into manageable levelling consistency but they did a grand job all in three days. I still had to remove the larger rocks and fill in several large holes that they had made to dust bath in but was still impressed none the less.
Laying the turf was a different matter. A little pep talk about NOT scratching it up was in order and they seemed to take it on board or... were just more interested in the corn in my hand?

I have laid the turf and soaked it well and Monday morning was awoken at 6.50 by the chickens making a commotion. They could see the rich green grass though the hatch (its clear perspex) and seemed desperate to get out. I came down and let them out... Don't want to upset the neighbours!!


Monday, and Tuesday (today) we have had the biggest eggs yet! Now that's either a rich diet of worms and lush grass that I am being rewarded with or...? Well that's all I can think of.

The landscaping is now nearly complete and with the new "Hot tub" in place we can relax in the warm 40 degree bubbles watching the chickens, kittens, dogs and other wildlife....

The new trellis appears to be chicken proof so we wont be getting any poach chickens by default.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Landscaping

We have had a major change around in our garden and it has involved lots of digging of holes which are very quickly filled with chickens.

Roger was left to erect four posts for some new trellis and when I come home hadn't got as far as I had hoped. He said it wasn't the Cider but the chickens that had held him up?
"Every time I dig a hole a chicken fills it up!"

I did suggest shutting them in the run but he said that he enjoyed them "helping" and "worm fest" made him laugh!

We have now however manged to nearly get the job finished and are awaiting our new toy? More details later....

Having decided that now the pool has gone and the ground resembles nothing like grass (thanks again Harriet, Amber,Sapphire & Speckle!) we (Roger) are going to turf the lawn, as apparently its the right time of year to do it?

I have extended the small boarder into a bigger boarder in the hope that the chickens will be happy digging up that area of the garden and NOT the new turf.
I suggested keeping them in the run for a couple of weeks but Roger was horrified! So I'll publish his edited comments when the turf has been laid and the chickens have left it alone.. (ha ha)

Finally I think I would be right in assuming that if a person brings you an empty egg box with a smile then they are asking for a refill?? Word has got out and those that have tried our eggs are coming back for more.

We have even discovered that if they are taken to the rugby club on a Sunday that they can be exchanged for BEER! Not a bad result considering all the girls are laying an egg daily so supply is out waying demand here at the moment.

I still cannot believe the difference these eggs make in cakes and cooking in general! You have to experience it to really appreciate it.


Sunday, 9 September 2007

BEAUTIFUL...


DOGS AND CHICKENS ....


Thought I'd post some pictures of my dogs with our chickens living in harmony now, as this apparently seemed to be the biggest concern for our neighbours.

They are now living all happily together after the initial eventful meeting.. but I will stress for all those concerned we still .....
DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALL ALONE TOGETHER!


Sunday, 2 September 2007

SPECKLE CAUGHT IN THE ACT..

SPECKLE CAUGHT IN THE ACT..

Yes its official we now have NUMERO FOUR (4) laying hens (no turtle doves or a partridge due to a lack of pear tree!)
Speckle was caught laying an egg.. It was a slight panic as all three others were present in the garden turning over the newly dug soil from where we had removed the boys pool..and then we noticed no Speckle - she was sat quietly, unlike Harriet laying what we think is her 1st egg.


Continued with the garden today - removing all that has been picked. plucked, sat on or scratched up by the "girls"

At one point I thought that I was going to have to put them into the run or spear one with a fork! I cannot believe how cheeky they all are!

We all have "Chicken" shoes for the garden which are the cheap version of "Crocs" They are great because they are waterproof and washable and easy to put on to run back and forth checking egg production. The only problem is the chickens like to try and peck your toes though the little holes. Brogan has developed a whole new set of dance moves to successfully get to the shed without being pecked. When I work out how - then I will try and put a video clip on here or You Tube its well worth the giggle...


And finally the efforts of Harriet trying to help!