Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Meet the Girls……….

Meet my Girls, Hetty and Hilda my 2 chickens.  We have had them for nearly 2 years now and they are truly part of the family.

I have always wanted chickens but it took some time for me to get the Wife on side, but after watching a program with Alys Fowler and her Garden and her keeping chickens I got the all clear.    Admittedly I did do quite a bit of research first as I had 2 big questions. Are they noisy? And how much room do they take up? As I live in built up area and the last thing I wanted was chickens annoying all my neighbours! I joined a website called Omlet   http://www.omlet.co.uk they are amazing and would recommend you check them out if you’re looking to get chickens they have a forum for everything chicken . So after having my mind put to rest we were ready to get some girls. I also spoke with my neighbours either side and told them of my desire to get chickens and gave them the website address so they too could get some piece of mind.

EBay was the destination for our first hen house we went for something cheap (BAD mistake!) and easy to get hold of.  A wooden hen house with built in run was our tipple, 3 days later it was up and ready for the girls.

So one fresh spring morning my little family and I set out to a local chicken breeder to add to the family! I was set on a Sussex Red and the wife like the hybrid called Speckeldy. We got them at 16 weeks (this is called point of lay or POY) as at 16 weeks there ready to lay eggs. But the breeder told us it would take them 2-3 weeks to settle in their new home before they start to lay.

It took about 3 weeks for our girls to lay there first egg but it was WELL worth the wait. Fresh eggs are like fresh veg from an allotment you really can’t compare them to shop brought even if you get the best on offer, there simply the best your ever taste. There is nothing quite like a freshly laid egg with your bacon on a Sunday morning.

This year we decided to upgrade our hen house to one from the Omlet website as wooden hen houses while they serve a purpose they are imposable to keep clean and hygienic for your hens.  We went for a Eglu Go without the run as we have a nice run for our girls already which I built a year ago, and just wanted a nesting box and sleeping area.

Just more than eggs……………………

Hetty and Hilda do more than give us fabulous eggs, they help with my garden too.

Firstly Chicken manure on your compost is AMASING it is a perfect addition to give you a wonderful rich compost, I have noticed it this year with my compost  it has given all my plants a extra boost and the squashes loved it.

Secondly they help keep the slug and snail population down too. I am a big fan of Hosta’s and have over 10 in my garden but each year even with my best efforts some get demolished by slugs and snails but since my girls are on the scene they have thrived. There is nothing more appetising to a chicken than a slug or snail. I let my girls out in the garden at least 3-4 times a week to have a scratch around and eat the grass. You do have to protect things in the summer from them as they will eat it but on the whole there do behave themselves.

Thirdly my 2 young daughters Love the chickens they are very good with them they pick them up (which the chickens love) and play hide and seek with them. And the chickens love having them around; in fact they love it when you’re in the garden with them. They like a good stroke and even better is when you’re doing a bit of weeding and they nip in to grab the fresh weed to snack on.