I know it's been a while, I'm trying to get better at updating - its been six months since we moved back into stickland and we've acquired one of my favourite assets - HEN's!! We've six of them and after a few weeks of settling them in they've rewarded us with an egg each a day since - every single day. Ours cost £5 each and have already saved us alot of money in home fresh eggs. You can generally get hens locally, from a local farm, enthusiast or you can rescue hens from battery hen farms (http://www.bhwt.org.uk/) there are many other sites that might be able to help you if you're interested in hens. We lived too far away to get any of those we had to 'order' our hens when a delivery of hens was due on the island in early summer. Very exciting waiting for the 'hen call'. Thankfully, the call came the day we returned from France and couldn't have been more perfect. I've kept hens before - but have bought 'keeping chickens for dummies' its a great book - but lots others out there.
Here the girls are - they've had several names - and nothing really settled yet - we did call them after all of our lodgers at our old house - which seemed fun - one particularily adventurous hen - we've nicknamed Karin - after the most adventurous lodger girl we had stay with us. Thankfully, unlike the lodger (who was known to want to go off walking around stone circles at midnight, these stones below, infact have had many a midnight jaunt......!). Thankfully our hen Karin, only wanders around the garden. How she gets out - I've yet to figure out.
Ring of Brogar, Orkney, NOT at midnight.
The eggs are a lovely bonus from these lovely and easy to keep pets - daily I'm in awe of their abundance. We use the eggs as barter (they've 'paid' for lifts for the kids, house sitting, septic tank clearing, plants, books, bags of grain and straw; and just to say thank you). We also sell a few (£1 a half dozen, £2 a dozen) hen money from eggs pays for the pelleted food they need for all their minerals- its a small start to our 'goodlife' wishes for the house out here. We get 42 eggs a week at the moment - more than enough for us/barter/selling. We recycle all our food/garden scraps to the hens (much to they annoyance of peedie, who has been known to voice his opinion!). Of course we also use them ourselves - for baking, cooking and just plain old boiled eggs - there is nothing like a fresh egg, with the rich colour - to make you really appreciate the finer things in life.
The hens live outside the back door at the moment, they might move into a byre in the winter. The hen house was recycled from an old meat/cheese shed given to us and an old wine box - mend and make do - free hen house. We used old stobs (fencing posts) we found on the beach and from around the byres to make the fence, the gate is made from a cut down pallet and I only bought chicken wire - so their run/house had minimal expense as well. Of course the minute you buy chicken wire, someone tells you they have some spare, but its an investment in both my hens and my garden - hens often don't mix with gardens if you want to have any flowers!! Although I might let them mill around the garden over the winter to catch any slumbering beasties. I'll try and remember the fence is a good idea when I recall being wedged between barbed wire, nettles and an electic fence which zapped my apple shaped tummy, or my very short bottom, it wasn't much fun - but I managed to get the fence up in a couple of hours - stung, zapped and pierced - I was glad it was over quickly!!!
The house was a bit of a recycled job - I'd looked at new houses but delivery to our island was more than the hen house. But, with alot of attention with a hammer, which was very good for anger management we managed to 'recycle' our own hen house!
Before when attacked by a hammer........
Inside all gutted out
A lovely use for an old box, it's now the nestbox
Ready for a coat of weatherproof paint and a lid for the nest box.
I'm glad we got the hens they've been a great start down the road of 'good lifing', I love watching them and feeding them treats. Much to peedies disgust, they love cheese and sometimes get a treat of reduced cheese thrown to them if I can find any. It's the least I can do for the lovely eggs everyday and watching their little characters develop! Peedie often sulks, but can be found inside hunting his next favourite thing after all foodstuffs - socks!
Peedie eating a treat the hens can't get........(well he loves socks)