Friday, 20 December 2013

Jubilation and Desolation

I had two pieces of news today from some of my customer friends. The first was from Jennie, she has told me that they forgot to make sure that the run door was closed properly last night and the wind blew it open and unfortunately a fox has taken all her lovely girls. She is devastated and my heart goes out to her.

The first of many
Mr fox will be on the prowl for longer now that we have longer nights and he will be looking for easy pickings. Please make sure your chickens are all safe at night.

The other piece of news is from an excited Jean who has found her first egg in the nest box this morning and it was blue!

She and her husband are going to be fighting over it for breakfast tomorrow she says. I don't blame her, the first egg is always such an exciting event.

I am excited too because although I know Glamorous Gordon is the son of Violet the blue egg layer, I have had to wait 5 months to find out what sort of eggs his daughters will lay. Its a bit of a Forest Gump moment, "you never know what your gunna git". Yay Glamorous Gordon!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Coops To Die For

Twitter Facebook and other social media sites are great for building contacts and relationships. They also do a great job of introducing you to other people with similar interests. The same is true of this post. In the past I have looked at @JimVyseArks when I was looking to source a coop when I first got into chicken keeping. In the end I went for the cheapest I could find. Six months later I "upgraded" to a better coop which was easier to clean cos cleaning out in the winter, in the rain and in the dark after work, is less fun than wading up to your welly tops in mud. Which by the way we did more or less at the same time but thats another story!! If I had worried less about the cost and more about the function I would have chosen very differently and saved myself some money in the long run. Since joining Twitter under the mysterious name of @hedgerowhens I have been found myself enjoying listening to, and talking to other chicken enthusiasts and among them is Jim from Jim Vyse Arks. He even called his blog "Chicken Chat" which is what mine was originally called in my homage to the great Indian delicious dish of the same name. Who needs an excuse to think of curry - I certainly don't. My tastebuds are tingling with the thought of it. Anyway I am digressing. As he very kindly did his bit to publicise our chicken keeping courses, I am returning the favour by incorporating some pictures of his wonderfully thought out coops. He designs and makes them himself and his passion for chickens shows through. They are purposefully made so that they should be easy to clean and keep your chickens in the lap of luxury. Don't our girls deserve the best? He will paint them also in a range of beautiful colours and fit them with an automatic door too if you wish. If you have a particular design feature he can also add that into your wish list. All in all his coops, as you can see from the pictures below, not only look good, but they function well for yours and your chickens benefit too. A win win situation in anyone's book. Don't let the fact that they are made from wood put you off either. I have a wooden coop and I have never had any red mite. I am a convert to diatomaceous earth poofed into every crevice with my Bobby Duster. You come out of the coop looking like a horror film extra covered in powder, but mites don't stand a chance. A mask is definitely a very good idea.

Extended Grand Chalet
This is the Extended Grand Chalet for the ultimate in chicken comfort. Even your head chickens can get their own roost above their minions. This is a very useful feature on all the Jim Vyse Arks and it keeps the harmony at bedtime as all the ladies are well spaced out. The private nest boxes are well situated below perch level so even the laziest of hens wont be tempted to sleep there. As we all know a nest box which is slept in is also pooped in. Hens like to roost high so they are very unlikely to choose (and therefore dirty) the nesting area keeping your eggs clean.
Chicken Run

Super Swiss Chalet
Standard Swiss Chalet
Look how easy it is to clean!

The Runs and Chalet look good together.
As you see Jim has worked hard to produce a range of excellent des-res for your girls. You can reach Jim on

Friday, 6 December 2013

Social Media Wanderings

I was just trying to pin something on Pinterest which I have only just started with and I found this. I was trying to draw a chicken to sort out my logo but it ended up looking like a hedgehog and this will help me enormously and any other people who like me are artistically challenged. Its really good and shows you step by step how to do loads of different creatures. Check it out.

Book on how to draw animals simply!!!

Ah Bless Em

I thought I would just post a little video of my chicks. They are 7 days old in this clip and you can clearly see them exhibiting their scratching behaviour.  They have been off heat for 2 days and in an unheated room. Even though they are small they can still make a heck of a mess and it keep having to empty the bedding out of the feeder. I think I have cracked the bedding in the water issue with some great new drinkers I got from EBAY. They are fed from an old ice-cream tub as the header tank onto 10mm tubing. They are small but perfect. No drowning issues and I can place them higher and higher as they grow, but the size of the chicks now now means I am going to have to move them elsewhere in a day or so. If you want any of these cute little bundles of scratchiness you can contact us by email here or tweet me @hedgerowhens (you can do it through the widget on the right) or use the contact form on our main site

Thursday, 28 November 2013

How to have a productive garden

Now I have a garden full of chickens, it is a little difficult for me to still grow some of my own food. I have found a solution, grow vertically!!! This way I can still grow strawberries and lettuce and other stuff but high up like a plant wall out of my little darlings way. Mmm I wonder if I can grow currant bushes high up too.

Fantastic idea to grow my strawberries

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Why my chickens wont put themselves to bed

For over a year my chickens have got themselves to bed at night. They obediently go through the automatic pop-hole before it goes dark and settle themselves in the coop. Now for some reason 3 of my chickens are always outside in the run squeeking when I go in to check they are all in. They all use the pop-hole when they need to go an lay an egg, but when it is bed time, these 3 rascals only see the main door of the coop as the only way to get into roost at night. These 3 are still out. I have tried to remove all the perches from the run, so they should have no option but to go into the coop, but no, they wait by the coop door until I go in and open it up. Only then will they go into the coop. It is positively doing my head in. I might just leave them out all night to see if the next night they are more keen to go through the pop hole to get to bed. Once a chicken gets into a habit of what they do, it is very difficult to change that habit.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Egg Trauma

Have you ever thought that everything seems to be going too smoothly and then wallop something turns it into a crisis. Well I borrowed an incubator from Heswall Hills Henporium, because my sister is nice like that, and we were merrily listening to it clicking away and happy in the knowledge that it was taking good care of my eggies. Then the obvious happens, the incubator suddenly loses power. Despite Keiths best efforts of changing the plug and the fuse and fiddling about in the lid, he pronounced it dead, just as I suspected. Now I have to find a home for 48 eggs mid way through their incubation period. I tried the airing cupboard and even with the heating on full the eggs were still too cool. I then decided to try to squeeze them - bearing in mind they are eggs - into my other two incubators which are King Suro's and they rock. I had to take them off the rockers and turn the whole incubator through 45 degrees several times a day. The King Suros did a sterling job of keeping the temperature and humidity right while I waited for my new incubators to arrive via the trusty Royal Mail. A spot of panic buying resulted in an increased egg incubating capacity so now I can do nearly 200 eggs at once. It still remains to be seen whether I managed to save all the unborn chicks, but I am hopeful. Luckily I didnt put all my eggs in one basket!!!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Hatchlings Galore

We are just listening to the chirping of day old chicks. They have just struggled their way out of their eggs and are just drying off. The ones below are ones that came out first and they are cute and fluffy.

They are very difficult to photograph as they are constantly moving and the flash makes them jump. So this is the best I could do.

Yes I will stop talking - eventually!
I cant stop visiting the incubator to see how many are out now.  It is stopping me from doing the housework as I cant concentrate on anything. This is obviously a job for someone more patient than I am. If you want to reserve our chicks please go to our booking site here Chick reservations

I know I have to part with them but they are soooooo adorable it is very difficult. It is though I laid them myself.

If you would like a chick or an older chicken please contact us here or via our website here  as they grow really fast and we sell out quickly.

Dominant Blue CZ
Dont look at me, I'm shy

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Chucky Heaven

We have just taken delivery of a batch of eggs all the way from Ireland. They are hybrids of the highest calibre. They have been selectively bred to produce top notch egg laying ability (300+ eggs in their first year) whilst at the same time looking fabulous in the garden or smallholding. Once they hatch I will be posting pictures for you all to see how cute they will be.

They are to be a Blue chicken, an Amber, a Sussex and a Rhode Island Red x Sussex or in other words a Buff Blacktail. If you would like to put your name down for some of these little darlings please use our contact form at the bottom of this blog page or email HERE  They are sure to be extremely popular so be quick.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

New Chicken Keeping Course Dates

Big News!!
We have added a few more dates just to keep us ticking over until January next year. I know.....January already. Sorry folks. I don't know if its my age. Alright then, it is my age, but this year has flown so much I think I have missed most of it, or forgotten it. Either could be true at this stage.

Our new dates are:
Sat and Sun 26th and 27th October
Sat and Sun 23rd and 24th November
Sat 14th December
Sat and Sun 11th and 12th January 2014!!!

Our new booking system is also now on line and easier to use. Click HERE to book.
Read our Testimonials page to see how we are doing.

Come and join us to learn all about chicken keeping and avoid expensive pitfalls. As a bonus, you get to enjoy our homemade Lemon Drizzle Cake and Cream Scones as part of our Cream Tea.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Updates On the Girls

Wilson Betty and Keppel
Its always nice to see how my girls are doing. I still think of all the hens I sell as my girls. I shouldn't ....but I do. I like to see how they grow and how they look when they blossom into beautiful hens. 

I also love to hear how their new owners feel about them. 

There is one thing for sure, chickens certainly get under your skin. Everyone who has them seems to love them immensely. That is why I am probably a self-confessed addict. Now I breed my own, I have to give myself a stern talking to, that "NO I cannot keep them all", and other such things as "Now you know you bred these to sell DON'T YOU" and I tell myself "If I can just keep another white one.....or a brown one...or isn't that a lovely colour variation." The excuses go on...and on. I am definitely a lost cause. 

I saw someone in that shed with some food!

Thank heavens I have a patient husband is all I can say.

Here are some of my latest adoptees, kindly supplied with my thanks, from Jean and her husband Steve.

Speckled Hybrid with Crest coming up
Legbar based hybrid

Three of the latest batch

Friday, 13 September 2013

NEW Easier Booking for our Courses

Good News!!!
We have managed to get a simplified booking form so you can book quickly and easily on any of our courses. Get to it from this link BOOK HERE or indeed from the Courses page itself.
If you have any difficulty with the form please let us know and we can get it sorted for you.

The nights are drawing in rapidly now and your chickens will be laying fewer eggs in response to the shorter days. They might even be starting to look a bit straggly and bald in patches. Don't worry, they will be back to their beautiful selves in about 8 weeks. One thing to watch out for is pecking. Sometimes those blood feathers poking through the skin are a little too irresistible for coop-mates and they may peck them. Have your blue spray handy to disguise the spike. Watch out for damaged quills which may bleed freely and attract more attention. You might have to segregate your girls from each other if it becomes a problem just while the feathers get chance to get more robust. Our Aunt Sally is in solitary at the moment because she just looks like a hedgehog and is luring attention from the other gang of girlies. She is having a particularly drastic moult and for her own safety I have put a temporary area up in the run so she can have a bit of peace. They can still see each other so she won't feel too lonely and ostracised. Poor Aunt Sally!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Happy New Arrivals

New hens nicely settled into their new home with Phil. These are an example of one of my speckled ladies and a black coloured hen. They are 10 weeks old in this picture and 12 weeks old below. Quite adventurous. Thanks to Phil for supplying the pictures.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

All Quiet on the Western Front

Now that the glorious heatwave is over and we have normal Summer weather (ie mixed and not particularly hot) the chickens are beginning to settle into life and destress. The quantity of eggs is getting better. I managed to get away with no illness.  I have also broken my remaining two broodies India and Aunt Sally. India will sit on anything egg shaped and goes broody very quickly.  She is not great as an egg layer but when she raises some chicks for me, she is perfect and for that reason she is worth her weight in gold.

I currently have chickens at 16 weeks, 9 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 weeks old, and they are coming in with interesting colours. Glamorous Gordon is half Australorp and half Cotswold Legbar and is very thorough at making sure his girls are attended to in the romance department. So thorough in fact that I need to get cracking (excuse the pun) on some chicken saddles to protect the backs of the girlies. I thought a fetching brown vinyl with orange binding and yellow braid would look mighty fine.

We have now obtained a load of Bobby Dusters to apply the diatom powder to your coop. We are selling them for £27 so drop us a line if you would like one. Click HERE

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Weather Tips for Keeping Chickens Cool

The heatwave is showing no signs of cooling off just yet so you need to be thinking about how your chickens are feeling.
They will be hot - very hot.
They cannot sweat so have to lose heat through their combs or by panting.
You MUST make sure they have plenty of fresh water daily. They will not be eating much but they will drink for England. You will probably notice that egg laying is somewhat reduced.  This will be a combination of the heat stress and also because their nutrition is less than it should be because of reduced food intake.

Give them a boost by making up a "mash" of stuff they will always eat, like thawed spinach, frozen sweetcorn, other leafy green veggies or carrots chopped up , a bit of poultry spice for additional minerals. Blend it with a splash of cod-liver oil and moistened layers pellets (or whatever pellets they are on). If you keep the sweetcorn and spinach slightly frozen they will probably enjoy the cooling effect.
Mixed Corn will heat them up so avoid if possible.

Make sure they have enough shade to escape the direct sun. Orpingtons particularly and other very feathery breeds can suffer terribly in the heat. Some chickens also like to paddle in cool water so a shallow tray filled to ankle depth (on a chicken that is) will be welcomed. A greenhouse gravel tray is ideal. You could also cool their water down by putting some ice cubes in with it. If you have poultry electrolytes to put in the water that will help them cope better or a poultry tonic.

Keep an eye on their drinkers so that they are not going green and building up a slimy biofilm on. This is not healthy for them. This will build up rapidly in hot sunny weather.

At night make sure they have enough air. A makeshift temporary door made of chicken wire, very securely fastened to the coop will allow the cooler night air in and keep them safe.

New Course Dates

We have just set some new course dates for this year as response has been very positive. We thoroughly enjoy running them and look forward to meeting more of you!

Sunday 4th August 2013 (5 places left) See Course page for new dates
Sunday 25th August 2013
Saturday 7th September 2013
Saturday 21st September 2013
All start at 10:30 in the morning giving you time to have a little lie-in and lasting for 3 hours. We tend to run over however so leave enough time to ask plenty of questions. It costs £38.50 per person

Please book via the blog course page here or from the Heswall Hills Henporium courses page here.

If you need to ask any questions before you book please email us by clicking here

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Results of Tidying UP

I have been trying to get some order in my computer files and have been through my photos, and I found this and I thought I would share it. It is my 2 week old duckies still under their "electric chicken" brooder heat pad. If you think baby chicks are cute, ducklings are even cuter (if thats a word)

These two are a large Silver Appleyard at the back and at the front is a large Dark Campbell. Dark Campbells are quite unusual as the more usual colour widely available is the White Campbell and the Khaki Campbell. These two little darlings produce an egg virtually every day until October and they start again just after Christmas. They are also massive, more like a small goose and thankfully they dont fly as for some reason their wings are not long enough to bear their weight. They do flutter a bit but only when extremely bothered. They can jump, but they look like a cute sack of spuds when they do. Not the most elegant.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Weather it Will or Weather It Wont

Summer is finally here as we all rush to buy our total sun block cream so we dont get all wrinkly. The chickens in the garden are going through water like a run on the bank. They cant get enough of it. With all those feathers, they can't sweat it out so they have to pant like a dog to keep cool. It must be very uncomfortable to have to lug round a duvet all day in this heat.

We have a broody on eggs, and three broodies now in the nest boxes squealing at anything that comes near. They warn anything that moves to keep out or they will get a good pecking. Fearsome they are. I got a tip from the web to turf out the broody so she couldnt visit a nest box, and it worked for two I had earlier in the year, but when I turfed these three out, they just paced up and down looking quite stressed against the chicken wire trying to find a way back into their cosy nest. They made their clocking noise for most of the day and when it came time to let them back in the coop they just went back to their nest as though they had been sitting there all day. While it is too hot I cant keep them out of the shelter of the coop in case they overheat so I will try once the weather goes back to being good old British dismal.

We went for a walk along the river in Chester yesterday and it was glorious, but I got disowned by my daughter for wearing an upturned tulip on my head. Actually it was my Eden Project straw sunhat, which I thought didnt look too bad, but she has put me off it now. I need something which stops my poor scalp from burning but doesnt look like a dead plant. Any suggestions most welcome, particularly one which doesnt give you hat hair, the sort of hairdo that you have to keep wearing your hat for as you look really daft once you take it off. The trouble with hats is they make you too hot and you end up with sweaty rivers all over your face. Not a good look, especially on one who also gets hot flushes.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Successful Course

We have just had the most wonderful weekend. The weather was beautiful and we have just completed a successful course to teach the art of chicken keeping to 3 lovely people. Far from being a chore, its more like a social event. We get to spend time getting to know new people and also to talk about one of our favourite subjects - chickens. To top it all we get to eat cream tea out in the sunshine. Any excuse for me to eat cake is rarely refused, and to get praise from our new friends about my baking is always nice.

We have just added some new dates for up and coming courses so if you want to join in the fastest growing pastime in this country, get yourself on our course.  We aim to make as enjoyable for you as it is for us.

Sun 9th June 2013 10:30am
Sun 23rd June 2013 10:30am
Sun 7th July 2013 10:30am
Sun 4th August 2013 10:30am
Sun 25th August 2013 10:30am
Sat 7th September 2013 10:30am
Sat 21st September 2013 10:30am

You can book on the course page on the blog or on the Hedgerow Henporium website HERE

Friday, 10 May 2013

Two more Broodies are on their Sit Down Protest

Once the days get longer you can bet your boots that one or two hens are getting more and more reluctant to get out of the nest box and let the others in. Although we have 8 nest boxes which is more than enough for our 20ish hens, the girls always try to lay where the broody sits. I reckon they are a bit like go-to-work mothers leaving their children with a childminder. They only lay where they know they are going to get the best care. We now have two more broodies settling in when they suddenly lose the ability to stand up. If you pick them up they stay in a sitting position. You put them down and they stay sat down. I moved Bronwen out of the nest and also Persephone. Persephone had been turfed out of the nest box or perhaps she had decided to let one of the other girls in to lay an egg so she could hijack it later because she was sat in the middle of the coop floor all fluffed up. I emptied the eggs from the nest boxes and found 10 eggs under persephone while she was sat on the floor. She was a bit miffed to be hoiked up and had me rummaging underneath her to extract her stolen egg stash. She then moved into the empty nest box and shuffled herself down. I put one egg just out of her reach on the floor to see what she would do. She looked immediately interested in that little package like I had just dropped a tenner. She had a quick look around to see that nobody else was about to pounce and she stretched her neck to the egg and skillfully shuffled it along the floor towards her and up the nest box lip and into her nest box. She then shuffled herself down again and looked quite smug. Another egg successfully snaffled.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

There is Nothing Faster Than An Amorous Cockerel

India is in her broody coop on the patio doing a sterling job of patiently tending her eggs which are due to hatch in 14 days. In the chicken area we have two lusty cockerels who pounce on anything that moves, even my wellies. I was opening the gate to their area when they dashed out just as I was letting India out for her daily constitution. When all of a sudden the cockerels spying a beautiful female not being defended by Glamorous Gordon, rushed over to her, while she was calmly munching her corn and gave her quite a shock. She flew into her coop quickly followed by a flurry of excited black feathered males, whereby there was much panicking in the tiny broody coop as they all tried to mate with India. Keith and I dashed over to try to rescue 1. poor India and 2 the eggs in the nest. Lusty cockerels intent on doing the mating deed are not easy to remove from their poor victim who was squashed to the floor and creating quite a fuss. We managed to pull them off her and batten down her broody coop so she could be safely at peace once again. Lesson leaned, try not to let the cockerels out onto the patio.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Well Hens are Not Like Cockerels

Keith, fresh from his chicken dispatching course, enthusiastically decided it was time to hasten the freezer appointment with blue/pink and green cockerel, the colour of their legband, that is. He performed the act of sending them to cockerel heaven and said that cockerels are more difficult than hens to dispatch because they are different. Hmmmm.  He also decided that as ours are not the classic Hubbard meat breed that the lack of huge amounts of meat meant he could not practice his boning skills properly. He did practice his glove cutting skills a couple of times (damned sharp knife) and blamed it on the cockerel. Nevertheless he produced a skillfully presented boned chicken and a neat pile of meatless bones almost as if the chicken had been undressed. We still have two to go, pinky and rufus/greenie who are getting more and more aggressive to my wellies daily.  Once they Woo Woo Wooooooo and raise one shoulder you know they are about to get in a sly dig on my welly tops as if they were a cat pouncing on a mouse. Its quite funny. Once you pick them up they just sit quite happily chatting away. Keith has just thrown away his shredded wellies so I am a bit wary about what they will do to mine if they decide to go down the full aggressive and unpredictable route. At the moment they are just funny. The dynamics of their troop has changed now that the two largest cockerels are no longer with them and Rufus is enjoying becoming head bird. It is keeping GlamorousGordon on his toes as he is not only trying to keep his girls serviced, he is also trying to make sure the other amorous attentions of the two other males are not allowed. What a life!!!

Broody News

Well that time of year is upon us and India has gone broody again. She is currently covering 16 eggs and looking every inch the perfect mother. Although she has had a crafty nibble - apparently - at 2 eggs as she originally had 18 under her. They must have had weak shells or were duds. She is managing to cover them completely by flattening herself out to make sure she keeps them warm enough.  We lift her once a day to make sure she eats and gets the chance to go to the toilet so everything stays nice and clean. She will usually totter around making a nuisance of herself with the other hens and getting quite aggro with them all. They usually respond with a bit of a peck and a chase so I have to keep an eye on her. She is not normally the most friendly hen I have, but she is lovely when broody and I get to give her a cuddle as she appreciates being given sole access to some tasty food offerings to keep her strength up.  I have also put a load of eggs in the incubator to time them when her chicks hatch so she can perform mother duties to an extended brood.

Friday, 12 April 2013

New Course Dates for 2013

After much huffing and puffing in the garden to get it looking mud free we have now been able to get our course dates for our chicken keeping courses for 2013 sorted. Please check out the Course Info tab in the blog. Hopefully the weather will be kinder to us this year as I have had a stern word with the weather man and he has promised to provide sunshine. If only. We look forward to meeting up with you to teach you the ins and outs of chicken keeping and turn you into an enthusiastic chicken nut like we are about these endearing creatures.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Spring is Finally Here

Well it finally came, and better late than never. Spring that is. The clocks have just gone forward an hour and its amazing how long the days seem all of a sudden. From my last batch of chicks that we hatched just before Christmas, we have now 4 lusty cockerels and 5 hens despite the fact that I thought I had culled the cockerels in the first week. I obviously have a bit to learn about how to tell the difference.  Two of the cockerels had green leg bands meaning I was not sure so I let them grow. Sure enough, despite being thought of as hens at one time, they are now definitely cockerels.  To spare the neighbours we have to bring them in overnight to live in a cardboard box which they seem to like. Come dusk they all start wailing and waiting by the gate so I can let them inside. They are almost ready now for their rendezvous with the freezer but Keith my husband is not too keen on performing the deed until he has had proper training, which is fair enough. He is booked on a course in Hampshire so he can be a fully fledged dispatcher and preparation person. I am expecting great things when he comes back.

Glamorous Gordon, our resident cockerel who is not having the rendezvous with the freezer, has always been quite sweet, but now he is vying for the attention of his ladies against the increasing advances of the new studs on the block, he has become a bit more feisty. He has discovered he doesnt like the colour red so he jumps at anyone with a red coat or fleece on. He also doesnt like me using the wheelbarrow to prop open the run door, and he attacks it. It is green, and now he doesnt like my green wellies if I stand by the wheelbarrow. Crazy bird.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year!!!

Here we are again, a brand new year. Hopefully 2013 is going to be better in terms of weather than we have had so far.  We wish all our past customers and future customers a brilliant new year to come and thank you very much for visiting us.