Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Thursday 31 July 2008

The start of 5 good things

I have spent a pleasant afternoon sitting on the sofa snoozing with Tabitha and Tom on my lap also snoozing...

It was their fault! they fell asleep on my lap , purring, and I couldn't turf them off, now could I? and their purring is soooooo sleep inducing.....

While on the subject of pleasant things, a forum of which I am a member has a thread where you list 5 good things about your day. Occasionally I find it hard to think of ANY good things about my day (!) but this thread ALWAYS makes me realise I actually have many things to list and be happy about!

1 Tabitha and Tom snoozing on my lap while I had a nap, getting friendly enough to do that
2 The nap was much needed, I was feeling unwell and needed a rest
3 Compostmiss has been being rather badly behaved and we have had to take some action over her behaviour which was sad BUT today she was nicer to us.
4 Compostman has got a new piece of AV equipment which is better than the several items it replaces...and they can go on Freecycle or Ebay
5 I have harvested lots of cherry tomatos today, and the blighted spuds seem to be ok when Compostman dug some up.

Busy in the garden

Today, despite having wrenched my right shoulder badly yesterday I had to get on with animal chores. Cleaning out the Hens was one job which couldn't wait, also checking their little feathery bums for signs of Fly strike ( YUCK!) Fortunately no fly eggs or maggots were visible, but at this time of the year it IS important to keep on looking....otherwise the eggs hatch, the maggots VERY QUICKLY eat their way into the living flesh and ....uggg.....

I also had to clean out Fudge the Guinea Pig and check him over too....and he too was ok.

Having done THAT it was time for tidying up around the polytunnel.

The back of the polytunnel, where I do my potting on in the summer...it needed a tidy up!

The garlic drying inside the polytunnel it has been very poor this year, sadly. The Sweetcorn plants went outside into a raised bed to join the plants which have been out there for a month (ooops)
The Aubergines , yum more for supper I think!
My Sweetheart melons, aren't they doing well!

These are Red Cherry, a variety I have not grown before. The organic seed was a free gift from "Organic Gardening Magazine" earlier in the year.
Cucumber plants , producing well at this time of the year!
Peppers growing fast

Tidied up!

Oh and the hens laid 4 eggs today but I have not yet picked the produce....

I had a snooze instead.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Wednesday produce

Produce tally today

Eggs 3 (come on girls, get on with it!)

Produce None picked as it has continues to rain and I have hurt my right shoulder quite badly somehow, so I am working one handed. The dull weather has slowed the ripening of stuff in the polytunnel anyway ( fortunately for me!)

However the rest of the spuds have succummed to blight so Compostman has been lifting the spuds we de haulmed 2 weeks ago

and chopping the tops off all the rest...

Ho hum so I guess i'm not going to be reporting a big potato harvest then....


Why are the eggs so different?

I now know who is laying which egg, and here are some photos but not sadly one from Gengis Hen as she lays huge thin shelled monsters which she then treads on and breaks.She can't help it poor thing as she is an ex battery prisoner hen....

Hens...a photo of the different eggs they lay!
From left to right Henny, Ginger, Attila Hen (Maran)
From left to right Attila Hen (Maran), Wednesday (Maran), Thursday (ex battery hen)

Attila and Wednesday are sisters from the same clutch of eggs but lay different colour and shaped eggs?

I wonder why?

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Produce on a wet Tuesday

Eggs 5 ( thank you girls)

everything else...dunno ....
as it tipped it down here all day

and we largely stayed indoors doing "indoor" jobs...and watching "The Simpson's Movie" on DVD and playing with the new kittens...

apart from sorting out the hens, who ran around in the rain pretending to be ducks....

Insufferable cuteness abounds!

The kittens continue in cuteness, this is what they got up to yesterday evening

"ooo look what we have found, a basket of clothes to lie in!"

"I'll just give you a wash dear"

"Quick, act cute, they have a camera!"

"Ha ha it worked! They are going to feed us now!"

I de flea'd them yesterday which needed doing and had a strangely satisfying session picking dying fleas from their fur...I am a bit strange in some of the things I find enjoyable I guess ;-)

Today they went to the Vet's for their first innoculations, worming and check up and our vet thinks they are wonderful! Mind you, the invoice wasn't very nice.....

Monday 28 July 2008

Weighing and counting the produce

Normally I just have an idea visually of how much food there is in the garden and polytunnel and adjust our eating habits accordingly. We are usually (apart from last year) self sufficient in apples, plums, berries of various sorts, spuds, onions, spinach, leeks, green beans, tomatoes, herbs, salads, courgettes and parsnips, by a mixture of growing them and freezing/bottling them for later use. We also grow most of our requirements for peppers, aubergines, cucumbers etc in the summer

AND I grow and dry herbs, rose petals and lavender ( for both culinary AND cosmetic/pot pourri uses!)

But after the disaster that was last summer, where we had no store spuds or onions, we had to buy a lot of fruit and veg and I didn't like it one bit. It also made me realise how much I take for granted being able to harvest what I want and eat it half an hour later, or eat our own frozen french beans in winter, or get a spud from the store to have Baked spud for a quick lunch.

So....I have started to weigh some of the stuff I harvest, especially from the polytunnel. I am NOT going to do it for the spuds from the garden at the moment, its just silly as there are too many! We have been eating entirely our own spuds since the start of June, but I WILL weigh the maincrop spuds when we actually DO lift them to store them

I am also not going to include salad stuff or herbs either as that would just get plain silly too! I do not buy any salad stuff from April through till October at all and we eat salad only sporadically during the rest of the year and that is only what I can grow in the polytunnel....

This year we are not yet harvesting the Onions as they are still putting on growth but they are looking good for a fine crop to store and use through the winter. The French Beans are not yet ready and the Leeks and Parsnips, although they will be good, are obviously not yet ready either. The Broad beans were rubbish this year, as were the Shallots. Carrots we are eating now are the thinnings from the rows although I shall begin to dig up the big ones soon...and freeze some of them for winter use. I have also got some more Carrots and Turnips in for a quick crop to eat and store in the autumn! Brassicas don't do well here...the pigeons massacre the lot and if they don't, the squirrels do........so I have not bothered to grow any previously.........BUT I am trying a few in the polytunnel this year so we shall see....

Sweetcorn...well I grow some as a treat but only about 30 plants and quite often the squirrels get a lot of them.

We now get 5 or 6 eggs a day from the 6 hens, even though Thursday keeps laying soft shelled eggs ( which she then treads on, the silly girl.....)

So...a lot of food and if we eat a fairly restricted diet we could not buy much in the way of fruit or veg!

And as an excercise to help my feeble memory I am going to note down as much of the stuff I harvest as I can remember!

I didn't do this earlier in the month day by day but I HAVE weighed the stuff as it comes in the house so.....

what has been harvested from the start of cropping, earlier in the month, until 24/07/07... EXCLUDING what we have also eaten !

Tomatos 8 Kg,
12 Cucumbers 500g each,
Courgettes 8 Kg,
Carrots 3 Kg
5 Kg Blackcurrants (frozen, some made into Blackcurrant Vodka)
4 Kg Redcurrants (Compostman made into 8 jars Jelly)
2 Kg Gooseberries (frozen, awaiting me to get on and make Chutney)

Tayberries ahem they get eaten before anything can be made from them I am afraid!

NO Rivers Early plums..( damn those squirrels!) and Pears likewise...and it is going to be a rubbish year for plums generally by the look of it...a combination of weather and squirrel I suspect.

THEN everyday for a few days I shall try to remember to post what I harvest!

25/07/08 2 Cucumbers 500g each, Tomatoes 2 Kg , Courgette 4 Kg, 6 eggs
26/07/08 Cherry Toms 600g, 1 Aubergine 150 g! ( first one hurrah!) 6 eggs
27/07/08 Toms 500g, 1 Cucumber 750 g whopper!, Courgettes 1 Kg, 1 Aubergine 200g, 4 eggs
28/07/08 Toms 1 Kg, Courgettes 2 Kg , 2 Aubergines 250 g each, 5 eggs

The Aubergines are a long thin variety called ( surprise) Long Purple which are really good for Ratatouille. The Tomatos are a mixture of Beef, various eating and cherry varieties.

I shall try to remember to do this every time I post...as it will help me to keep track of what we DO get from the garden! And if you ever visit at this time of year be prepared to be fed on tomato and courgette omlette, potatos and salads!

(Actually thats what we seem to be eating a lot of!)

Remember those basil cuttings?

Well I finally got round to potting them up!

Sunday 27 July 2008

More Kittens

Well we went out to Hereford today and went to look at a Kitten at a farm in Credenhill.

We have decided to get a kitten now, while we are going through cat flap/litter tray/keep off the bench/learn to get on with Kitty..issues at the moment with Sid ANYWAY, so I said to Compostman that we might as well get the kitten we were originally thinking about, before we heard about Sid...and get all this fun over with NOW. So...we went to look at one Kitten and there were two left, a brother and sister, cuddling each other, oh so cute........

Sid meeting the new kittens

Tom on the left, Tabitha on the right

Sleeping off a sachet of cat food each...

Well...what more can I say??

Sid the (bigger) kitten is VERY taken with them already!

Saturday 26 July 2008

Update on Aminopyralid contamination of crops.

Have just got this via an email...issued by the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

1. Previous information concerning damage to allotment crops believed to be caused by residues of the herbicide aminopyralid in manure can be found in Regulatory Update 15/2008 (issued 16 June 2008) and Regulatory Update 18/2008 (issued 11 July 2008).

2. PSD has already confirmed that using manure, which may contain residues of aminopyralid, does not have implications for human health. However, in response to the concerns of allotment holders and leisure gardeners about damage believed to result from these residues, PSD has been in contact with Dow AgroSciences Limited, the approval holder and data owner for the majority of aminopyralid products approved in the UK. Dow AgroSciences have asked for their approvals to be modified whilst the situation is under investigation.

PSD has accepted this and amended the approval of all products containing aminopyralid to suspend the approval for sale, supply, and use with immediate effect whilst further investigations are undertaken.

Storage is unaffected and it remains legal and safe for these products to be stored by anyone.

The approval holder, product names and MAPP numbers of affected products are:

Approval Holder
Product Name
MAPP Number

Dow AgroSciences Limited







AgChemAccess Ltd

3. Users and distributors are encouraged to continue to store any stocks they hold, or to contact Dow AgroSciences to arrange their return. In the case of stocks of Upfront (MAPP 13782) you should contact AgChemAccess Ltd. Stocks should not be disposed of illegally. Distributors are asked to inform all their relevant customers of the suspension.

so...its been temporarily withdrawn...and we all have to wait and see what will happen in the longer term.

Friday 25 July 2008

Hen trouble no longer

As you may remember, I have spent the last 2 weeks trying to add 4 hens ( 2 plus 2 from a social grouping viewpoint..) to my original 2 girls..and boy has it been an eye opener!

The 4 new girls were a pair of Marans , same age, same hatching...who had their own pecking order .............
and the other pair were a pair of ex battery hens who had their own pecking order .............

and ALL of them decided to pick on the biggest hen I had..... who just squatted down and let them peck her to bloody......

the only thing which has worked is to separate out the two dominant hens...one of the Marans, one of the ex batts...into a separate house and run....so they went into the Eglu.

It has taken a week of this, all the hens could see each other but the two bully hens could not get to the others..........and it has worked! I have let them all out together and they are all now a reasonably happy bunch,rather than the two top hens pecking hell out of 3 of the others!

AND after reading a thought provoking post on a Poultry forum I am on, I tried some rubber eggs in the nest box to see if it would cure Wednesday of her egg pecking/eating habit...........she has been destroying her freshly laid eggs from the start AND had begun to peck at the other eggs, even though I collect them as soon as I hear one being laid!

The idea is that there are so many eggs to peck, which don't actually break, that the hen gives up! I think the technique is called "flooding" in behavioural speak.

WELL! It has WORKED! since I put the rubber eggs in the nest box I have had NO broken eggs from her!

Hurrah! As if she had kept this behaviour up I would have had to "consider her options......"

Also Sid the puss had been to the Vets and been neutered...the Vet joked that they wanted to keep him there as he was such a cutie! He is fine, very hungry and a bit sore round the bottom area but otherwise OK!

Thursday 24 July 2008


The Compostbins blog has received an award! ! Thank you so much Little Veg Patch, I am very very chuffed to be considered for this award. The rules are that I pass it on to 7 of my favourite blogs. I can't, however , pass it on to Little Veg Patch....


I have decided to award the blogs that I like and read regularly. There is no significance in the order, I just did them alphabetically!

Up the Garden Path A beautiful blog, a family in France working hard, being as self suffcient as possible.

The Patient Gardener Fabulous photos which always make me smile!

Tales from the Forest Another family working towards as self sufficient life as possible!

Musings from a Stonehead someone who is about as self sufficient as it gets...I am inspired by his hard work and achievements!

Mrs Nesbitt's place My friend who makes me smile!

Green lane Allotments for spreading the word about Aminopyralid contamination of manure and helping to get something done about it!

Downshift me Matt and Aj - self sufficiency in Nova Scotia!

The common theme? I like these blogs, they make me smile, give me inspiration and ideas :-)

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Ginger returns!

I got up quite early this morning, to go and have a look for Ginger. I must admit I was expecting to find a dead hen or a pile of feathers BUT.....she appeared! wet and bedraggled from out of a shrub, a few feathers missing but ALIVE!

Henny ( the other hen of my original pair) ran over to her when she came back and rubbed her neck along Ginger's neck and crooned.....

I am SO pleased she is OK :-)))

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Ginger goes missing

I have lost Ginger the Hen...she has gone missing... I went out to shut the girls up for the night and there were only 5 of them...
I have called and called, but I can't find her....



Well! I have been tagged! by Little Veg Patch!

She has tagged me to share six random things about myself, and then tag six others.

Tag Rules:

Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on the blog. Write six random things about yourself. Tag six people at the end of your post. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

OK here we go, 6 random things about me!

1. I loathe runny egg white...it makes me feel physicaly sick! BUT I DO like soft yolks....

2. I can curl up my tongue into a tube and whistle through it!

3. I dont have any tattoos BUT I pierced my own ears many years ago, when I was young and silly... Ouch.

4. I cry at Dr Who

5. I won a Platignum Pen essay competition when I was 8.

6. I have crooked little toes..I was born with them!

I am tagging:

Mrs C's blog

Chronicles of the Troll family


Eating the seasons

Smallest Smallholding

The Cottage Smallholder

Sunday 20 July 2008


The 6 hens are now giving us 5-6 eggs a day which considering the 4 new girls are in various stages of moulting ( and 2 are recently rescued ex battery hens) I am rather imprssed with!

The bullying has abated a bit...I have separated out the culprits Atilla the Hen ( formerly known as Tuesday!) and Genghis Hen ( formerly known as Friday!) out into their own run the Eglu ( aka the Sinbin!) , where they are kept penned in for some of the day whilst the other 4 are allowed out around them....it seems to be working!

Mind, you...we did have a couple of funny eggs in the week!

This picture is what I found last Tuesday in one nest box...the LARGE egg is from Henny and weighed 88 g and measured 2 1/2 inches...the small egg is only just over 1 inch long and weighed less than 25 g....

Saturday 19 July 2008

Sid the not so kitten!

I took Sid to our vets last night for the first of his innoculations, a general check up and to see about getting him neutered...NOT just because of the "spraying of the sofa" incidents...but because we DON'T want to breed from him so why should someone else's queen suffer the consequenses of his actions?

AND...SID is actually about 9 months old....he probably has some Oriental blood (looking at him I am not surprised...he has a very vocal call, walks like a cat walk model, is VERY delecate boned and has a "kinked" tail...)

so...he is booked in to be neutered next Thursday...and is allowed outside to play in the meantime as he is NOT the baby we thought he was!

BUT he is still a lovely, lovely cat.and he LOVES our house and gardens! He is so affectionate and has settled down to a tolerance with Kitty Cat very quickly ( which, after the antics of the Hens recently, is a HUGE relief!)

It is SUCH fun to watch him at play!

Friday 18 July 2008

Friday frolics

Today we bottled up the Victoria plum wine and some cider from last year.

A DJ of wine awaiting bottling

Compostman sterilising the bottles I had washed.
14 bottles of wine and another 5 litres of cider in the store cupboard!

And VERY nice it tasted too!

Mmm home made wine...mmmm

Thursday 17 July 2008

Thursday thoughts

Thursday today and I feel quite unwell..so have had a quiet day...well I only have today and tomorrow before Compostgirl is off school for the Summer hols...so I had better make the most of the oppertunity to rest!

Didn't get much chance though as Sid the kitten decided to wee and poo on Compostgirl's sofa in her bedroom....so all the covers, cushions and foam matress had to come off and be washed!

Then he did a wee AGAIN later on, in the same spot on the sofa base!


The hens are being tricky as well, the new girls are pecking Henny to bits and it is all very stressful for her...

And to cap a carp day, half the spuds have badly blighted foliage so Compostman cut the haulms off tonight. So not much of a crop AGAIN !

Am a bit fed up today!

Sid the puss has just disgraced himself

Hmm Sid the puss has just disgraced himself by weeing and pooing on a sofa bed....
So the covers and cushions have come off and been washed, Sid has been told off VERY firmly .....but we did discover that someone had been there before him

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Hmmm .......a modern marriage?

Compostman now informs me he had gained some insights into me from reading my blog.................?

This is a bit weird.............I think.........

Wonder which bit he read?


Tuesday 15 July 2008

Sid the new kitten

Sid was a "lost" kitten....he is about 16 weeks old ( hard to tell as he is a bit thin...)

3 weeks ago a nice lady nearish to us found him, extensive enquiries round all her farming neighbours drew a blank as did CPL Hereford, ads in local papers, asking at local schools etc.....

I saw her ad in a local farmers shop, called but was told he had just been re homed..however
...she called a couple of days ago to say the re homing had sadly not come off and would I still like him?

so I went over to her house last night....and came away with SID!


Sid the Kitten is now ensconced on our bed..( well THAT took less than 24 hours!) .....having saved us from the dangerous garlic which was fiendishly hanging threatening us in the kitchen...and who has also rescued us from the diabolical table legs which were threatening us in our sitting room...........( he has shredded the garlic stalks and kicked hell out of the table legs!)

spookily he has so far shown signs of doing all the " unique " things our much missed, late lamented beloved Monty puss used to do.......... :shock:

Monday 14 July 2008

Busy Monday

I had a busy day today,
I scaled and conquered(!) the Ironing Mountain
and bottled the Damson Vodka. After decanting the pink, yummy, sticky (!) vodka from the damsons, I poured a bottle of sherry into the Kilner jar apparently this makes a lovely fortified, damson-y flavoured sherry in a few months? We will see.....
However I have yet to scale the " putting away all the ironing" peak
nor have I yet sorted out the corner in our bedroon where lurks the piles of material etc for turning into other things...like quilts....

Ho hum...

Saturday 12 July 2008

Well I didn't get much of my "to do " list done on Fri...went to Hereford and did a LOT of shopping, mainly dried goods , some for the store cupboard, some for use now...also went into Philip Morris and got some more wine making stuff...I LOVE that shop....and Compostman and I had a very nice lunch in a local pub The Tarrington Arms

but I did get 6 good eggs from 6 hens.....so all the hard work this week swapping the runs around, giving the new girls extra protein, making sure they had enough calcium etc MUST have worked!!

Went to the Domestic Fowl Trust farm today on a nice outing...will post up more tomorrow...as am on way to bed now ( feeling very tired and a bit low here....)

Friday 11 July 2008

Friday fun and friviolity

Today, its pouring down.....and once I have done the Hens I am NOT going to do stuff outside. I am going to have a day of inside jobs.

I am going to sort out my HUGE pile of material scraps and oddments which are scattered all over the house (!) into one storage place and start planning a quilt from them.

I am also going to put the candle making stuff and the soap making stuff in separate , LABELLED, boxes in my new Study cupboard, so I can find them when I want them.

I am also going to reorganise my lotions and potions ingredients into one sensible place in our bedroom so all my essential oils etc is all together in a locked cupboard. (I keep Essential Oils away from prying little hands to be safe!)

AND I may go down to one of the Charity shops in Hereford to donate some items ( and if I see something I like I may be tempted to get it...who knows?)as we are going there, shopping, anyway!

Last time I donated some stuff...I ended up with a beautiful Portmerion Vase which was just right for putting Honeysuckle and Roses from the garden into! AND a copy of a Bill Bryson book which I hadn't read yet!

So...wish me luck! I'll let you know how much I managed to get done.....

Thursday 10 July 2008

"You don't work...you can't be tired!"

You know, it struck me ( not for the first time!) how odd some folk's attitudes are. I know we live in a fabulous place and have a lot of land, however it IS a fair bit of work to look after. Compostman and I grow most of our own foodstuff, tend to various animals, renovate and look after the house, make preserves, compost, manage a woodland for wildlife and for our wood supply and generally we are quite self sufficient in making stuff and mending stuff etc. My days are really very full..especially when I factor in that I am often forced to rest or can't do stuff due to CFS/ME..which means I HAVE to rest and recuperate when I am exhausted or ill.......And I certainly don't seem to have much "spare time" to just sit and twiddle my thumbs! (not that I WOULD, but you know what I mean :-) and neither does Compostman!)

Compostman is busy fixing up our house and grounds, doing jobs which many people would have to employ a builder or carpenter etc to do...as well as gardening, felling trees, digging, shredding, etc etc.

We both do various voluntering activities and I work as an Environmental Educator occasionally, as well as doing my Master Composter volunteering and various college courses. and for our recreation we do stuff with computers, but usually ( as you may have observed!) late at night.

Unlike people who work 9-5 type jobs, our weekends are, if anything, even busier than our weekdays...as we have family type things to do as well!

BUT because I don't work in a "conventional " way ie for an employer 9-5, 5 days a week....I get various comments along the lines of "it must be nice to have lots of leisure time" or if I say about having been busy or feeling rather tired I get "but you don't work, you can't be busy/tired! " I can only assume that people think my life is like one long holiday from full time work. Except it IS NOT..this IS my work........doing what I do...

Hmmm wonder who they think does all the stuff at our place? Do they think we have an army of gardeners :-?

Ah well, to each their own I suppose and I would rather have *my* life than be working all hours to make money to buy food because I can't find the time to make food, because I work all the hours...etc etc ...I think THAT is called "the rat race" ....and I don't like rats ;-)

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Crops from the Polytunnel

At last! The first tomatoes are ripe! On the left a Black Russian tomato

and here a Golden Sunrise tomato.

Mmm sweet and juicy, I will have them with cucumber ( grown in the PT) and lettuce ( grown in the PT) for lunch and try to pretend it ISN'T chucking it down with rain outside

The rather feeble crop of garlic from by the carrot bed, hanging up to dry in the PT over a tray of shallots from the same bed. I grow garlic and shallots to keep away the carrot fly and it works BUT this year the actual garlic and shallots are a bit dud....

Hopefully the other garlic and shallots in other beds will be better! BUT the onion bed is doing really well so fingers crossed that THIS YEAR we get a good harvest again. Last year we had hardly any usable onions......

But if this rain keeps up I am worried about blight on the potatoes outside....well I am worried about that ANYWAY......


Have just recieved this post from my Freecycle network!


"sunshine to put in the sky and make this summer a bit better"

**** Couldn't resist approving this message - although none of us would be putting the sunshine in landfill if we ever found any! (Freecycle Hereford Moderator) ******

Well it made me smile , anyway ;-)

A view from the garden

This is the raised beds by the compost area in the sunshine yesterday. The very tall plants next to the French bean "wigwam" are Jerusalem Artichokes. I am not sure they are meant to be THAT tall? The bean canes are 7 foot high!

This is a Pumpkin flower..beautiful, isn't it?

A close up of the flower.

Our Tayberries grow rambling all over the fence between the Orchard and the Wood....and I went and picked a few pounds today (in between attending to the hens' antics!)

So I now have red stained hands!

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Update on the Hens

I went into Countrywide to try to get some "Anti peck spray" or some "Gentian Violet" but all they had was a sheep antiseptic coloured spray ( I remember using that on lamb navels many years ago!)

So I didn't get any...

Today I have had them all separated, the Marans in one run and house, my 2 original hens in the Eglu run and the ex bat girls in the GP run...and let each pair out into the orchard in turn after they had laid..this way I could keep an eye on them AND see who laid what colour eggs...

No more pecking was done and Friday didn't have any more bleeding...so I HOPE the change of scene and extra stimulation has done the trick!

They finally all got to go out in the garden for an hour before bedtime...you should have seen the new girls faces when let loose in 3/4 of an acre of garden!!

Fingers crossed it will all work out....

Compostman has nearly finished the new Ark, so that will help!

Monday 7 July 2008

Hen antics...

ARRRRRGHHHHHHH! I have spent nearly all day today doing stuff with hens, putting them in one house, moving them out of the other!

The new girls are proving to be a bit more work than anticipated!

Friday the ex battery hen laid an egg this morning and when I went to get it I found a lot of blood on the straw. Close examination of her back end revealed that someone had been pecking at her bald bottom and pecked a nasty wound in her vent ( thats the single exit for eggs and faeces which chickens have)

Now the new girls all have a greater or lesser degree of feather loss, some of it from going broody or starting to moult maybe, but quite a lot from feather pecking. I don't know if it is self inflicted feather pecking ( could be caused by mites/lice/lack of protein/boredom/stress or just because they feel like it....) or if it is aggressive feather pecking of one bird ( could be caused by lack of protein/aggression/boredom/stress or just because they feel like it....)

So...Compostman and I got Friday cleaned up, wound powder puffed on and then gave her a good powdering of "Barrier" louse powder. This is very nice stuff containing Lavendin and Tea tree essential oils, so I approve of it, its Organic AND it will help with the wound as well as any lice. It also covered up some of her red bum!!

We then did ALL the other birds, including Henny and Ginger and I checked them all carefully over for wounds etc and found none BUT lots of bald patches on the new girls.

The ex battery hens have been de beaked on the top beak so it probably isn't them doing the pecking, it can't have been Henny or Ginger as they have been kept separate SO it looks like one or other ( or both) of the Marans have been feather pecking the others for some time. And now Friday has a wound it could get a lot worse(hens will keep on pecking at a bloody wound!)

Suspiciously Tuesday only has a sightly bare bum but the rest of her plumage is beautiful!

So .........Compostman is making an ark to put Thursday and Friday in and, in the mean time, poor old Fudge the Guinea Pig has lost his outdoor run as last night the 2 ex batts were put in there with a cat carrier as a sleeping house...

It looks a bit like a hen shanty town in the orchard at the moment!