The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Hope – the little hen with a big personality

Posted in Chickens, Cottage tales | 22 comments

Hope – the little hen with a big personality

The last post that I made on the blog was about Hope – a favourite hen. She didn’t jump in my arms when I approached. She kept her distance. She knew that she was special. There was something in the strut of that diminutive bird. Just a few weeks ago I was estimating her age as I watched her pecking her corn. She must have been at least six or seven years old but she was still out in the run looking superb and doing her own thing. Once in a while she still laid a small white egg –  they were the sweetest and best eggs that I’ve...

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I never, ever thought that I could get angry with a chicken

Posted in Chickens | 23 comments

I never, ever thought that I could get angry with a chicken

But I did. I was so angry with Hope that I wanted to rip her apart with my bare hands. Hope has been toying with being broody all summer. She’ll sit for a day or two and then decide she doesn’t want to sit on eggs any more. If a hen stops being broody there are various tricks that you can do – such as putting her in a dark box for a day or so. If you’re going to try this don’t forget to give her food and water. Hope would have nothing to do with a dark box. She screamed and screamed until I felt sorry for the rest of the flock and...

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The Pekins are now three months old

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The Pekins are now three months old

At three months old the Pekins have crept into a very special place in my heart. They are beautiful little birds with large eyes and feathered feet. They communicate with each other with teeny, high pitched cheeps. Although they are still tiny, I’ve been letting them out of their run to mix with the rest of our flock for a few hours each day. Initially their steps into the big run were tremulous. And then they had to negotiate the Krypton Factor of finding the open door when they wanted to return to the Pekin Pagoda. A couple of panicky...

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Update on the home grown Leghorn/Golden Seabright cross chicks: 5 days on

Posted in Chickens | 4 comments

Update on the home grown Leghorn/Golden Seabright cross chicks: 5 days on

I took Steve_h’s and Cathryn’s advice and examined the remaining eggs in Venice’s nest closely. Just one was addled. But over the past couple of days the four remaining eggs were either crushed or the chicks just didn’t make it when they tried to hatch out. It was very sad clearing up the remains and egg shells.  Only one other egg had fully come to term. It was a mess of flattened feathers. What on earth went wrong? The problem was that Venice had collected eggs as and when they were laid over a few days before we realised that...

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Chick count is now two

Posted in Chickens | 6 comments

Chick count is now two

Yesterday morning I turfed Venice of a very smelly nest and discovered another chick similar in colouring to the first chick. Incidentally we have named the first chick Folly. Thumbs up to 5olly for the suggestion. There are now five eggs left. One is large and pale brown and four are Hope’s eggs. Venice hasn’t tried to move any of these eggs out of the nest and seems happy to keep on sitting. I was a bit worried that she wasn’t tending the hatched chicks but the chick crumbs are going down in the bowl and I saw the little chick in the...

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New chick!

Posted in Chickens | 9 comments

New chick!

A few years ago I was looking through the eBay listings for hatching eggs and I spotted that there were cross breed eggs available. These cross breed bantam chickens laid well – almost all year round. They were tough little birds. I assumed that like cross breed dogs they were generally stronger than pure breeds. I dilly dallied over my choice for several days and in the end plumped for brown leghorn bantam hatching eggs. Queen Zeb and her Italian brothers hatched from this batch. Mysteriously that were all standard sized chickens that...

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We may have new chicks in a few days time

Posted in Chickens | 2 comments

We may have new chicks in a few days time

The field hut arrived in a flat pack from eBay a couple of weeks ago. I put it together quite easily and last night finally moved it into the chicken run for our broody hen. It’s not nearly as sturdy as the Pekin Pagoda which is a Rolls Royce of small chicken houses but that’s OK as it will only be used occasionally. It’s the perfect size for a hen and chicks or a retreat for a sick hen. Two days after I ordered the field hut, Hope decided that she wasn’t going to be broody anymore. She has a sort of little girl’s skippy step and...

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Update on the 10 week old Pekin bantams from Sue

Posted in Chickens | 4 comments

Update on the 10 week old Pekin bantams from Sue

The five little bantams are now about ten weeks old and seem to be settling down happily in their new home. We have christened their house The Pekin Pagoda as the roof reminds us of the pagoda style. BTW I’m thrilled with the house – it’s strong and build out of a decent thickness and quality of wood. The roof is heavy and would not fly off with a strong gust of wind. It was a great buy. However, it is smallish – fine for 5-6 bantams but only OK for a couple of standard sized hens. The Pekins will remain enclosed in the house and run...

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