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!

Tuesday 6 January 2009

December egg round up

It is that time again! December has passed and it is time for me to yet again delight you with my egg tally and hennish round up for the last month ;-))

Despite December being of very short day lengths, and thus in theory being the lowest egg producing months, I have had a good lot of eggs from all the girls.

Henny, who was moulting for the whole of October and beginning of November, is now back in fine fettle, her new feathers are very pretty! She is now 2 years old and has never laid an egg a day, she tends to lay 5 in succession and then have a day off! Henny laid 20 eggs in December.

Ginger went into a short but intense moult in the middle of December and is only just getting some feathers, what a daft hen!

I have felt SO sorry for her this last few very cold days as she looks miserable but won't go in the house to shelter. Despite this Ginger had laid an egg a day for the first part of December, a total of 18 eggs.

Attilla laid 21 eggs and has nice new feathers on her neck and bottom now, the purple spray does the magic trick again!

Cathy laid 7 eggs in all and now also has lovely new feathery bloomers. You can see her lovely new feathers as I have had success with the purple spray on her and whoever was eating her feathers has stopped and they have grown back beautifully.

Sweetiepie started laying 4 days after she left the Sweetie Six to their own devices and has laid 13 eggs and towards the end of the months was laying an egg every day.

Cathy, Attila, and Sweetiepie show off their new bloomers.

Genghis Hen had me worried just before Christmas as she had a couple of days where she was very droopy and wouldn't eat. I isolated her from the others, checked for egg boundness, sour crop, impacted crop, wounds, sniffles stc and she seemed to be clear of anything obviously wrong so I gave her some food, water, a cosy bed, some TLC and hoped for the best (it was Christmas eve so I couldn't consult the vet!) Next morning she was a little better and had done a HUGE pile of droppings and laid a mess of an egg. By the afternoon she was fine again, so hopefully it was the strain of an egg inside her....poor old girl. The forced egg laying (due to the artificial light they are kept under) messes up battery hens sometimes and they just can't lay properly.

But yet again, the absolute stars are Babs and Goldie! Yep the new girls laid the most eggs! Babs laid 26 and Goldie laid a magnificent 27 eggs out of a possible 31. Goldie makes me laugh! I posted a few days back about her being an escapologist, well we went to the trouble of putting a nest box outside the run for her just in case she got out before laying an egg...well she CAN get back in the Orchard if she wants AND she lays her egg BEFORE she escapes!

Babs has lost all her head feathers due to pecking and I have had to paint some magic purple spray on her head to stop the feather pecking. She now looks like a punk! She was NOT impressed with this process I can tell you...

The Silver Dorkings continue to delight, Cap't Flint is the dominant male at the moment and is now as large as the big girls although he still keeps a respectful distance from them!

Can you see Sidney and Tabitha playing behind him?

Long John Silver is very friendly and I hope that continues. Ruby, Violet, Buffy and Willow are very sweet and have just started to make cluck noises rather than strangled squarks all the time, and so far we haven'theard any crowing!

With the weather being so cold I have been giving the chickens warm mash and lots of extra treats and high protein nibbles to help them grow new feathers as fast as they can, and as a reward because I love them all.

As we are have been having the shortest days and it has been quite overcast and gloomy on some days the girls are doing really well to lay so many eggs! Hen egg laying is controlled by day light so we really are getting a good return from our girlies. I have actually had the second best monthly egg tally in December, only a few eggs behind October! in the last 6 months I have had a total of 718 eggs from the hens, what on earth have we done with them all? I haven't sold THAT many!

From 6 egglaying hens ( forget about Genghis and Cathy!) I have averaged over 4 eggs per day, which isn't bad going I think!

Hopefully the better weather, the end of moulting and the beginning of the fab four Dorkings coming into lay will mean more eggs for me to sell and recoup some of the feed bill as well. Which would be good.....

THANK you all, my lovely, lovely girls and boys, you are making my life a lot brighter!)

Henny and Sweetiepie.


  1. Aren't chickens just wonderful, it amazes me still just how many eggs they do lay. Am glad they are all okay and are surriving the winter months, was just talking to Mom the other day on how chickens cope in winter, in NZ, well it really doesn't get cold there. take care fiona

  2. Wow, your girls have certainly done well on the egg-laying front, considering all the gloomy, dark days! My Treacle continues to produce an egg a day (with the odd day off now and then!), but Honey is definitely having a well-earned break. She's been a bit droopy too, the last few days - seems a bit puffed up and quiet, but I noticed she visited the nest box a couple of times this a.m., but then came away again. I wonder if she's thinking about laying again and has a whopper of an egg brewing? What do you think CW?
    Willow xx

  3. Your chickens are beautiful and I love reading about them. And you counted every, single egg! How impressive is that. I smiled the entire time I read this -- thank you!

  4. One thing puzzles me. How do you know which hen lays which egg?

  5. What can I say? YES I counted every single egg....:-))

    I do this because I am a scientist and have spent all my life counting and assessing and measuring stuff, it is also a useful way to check if a hen is feeling OK as illness is often shown by a laying hen, not laying

    I know who lays what by a combination of things, the colour, markings and and shape of the eggs mainly as the girls lay different eggs.

    Sweetiepie lays plain round dark brown eggs, Henny lays big speckled dark brown eggs, Ginger lays pale brown, plain, more oblong eggs, Attilla lays pale cream, speckled at the top, very pointed eggs. Babs and Goldie lay brown eggs, Babs' have speckles, Goldies' are plain.

    Cathy and Attilla lay plain mid brown eggs, but they don't lay very often, being ex battery girls.

    I can also HEAR when one of the hens lays as they are very noisy about it and I can tell who is making the noise as I know their clucks apart(!)

    What can I say? I AM besotted with my girls!

  6. Oh my goodness that is so incredibly exciting I am DEFINITELY going to have hens this spring! I'll set aside some money for the birdhouse and the birds and will try my best! It is just fantastic, to know the birds not only by their names but even by the sounds they make and the colour of eggs! A wonderful blog!

  7. You have beautiful chickens! You are very lucky to get so many eggs. My one chicken has gone on strike all together, and the other three have slowed down. Once it warms up I'm sure the laying will pick up again. I also want to get some more chicks in the spring so I have enough eggs to sell also.

  8. The photo of the Dorking chicks are lovely, I have just got myself a cockerel to got with my hen and am looking forward to have some chicks of my own in the spring

  9. Is Ginger an Isa-brown? She looks a lot like the 50 Isa's I brought in this summer as day-olds. Also, do you eat your own chickens, or just use the eggs?

  10. Hi there!

    Ginger is a RIR X Light Sussex so similar but nott quite the same as yours which (I think) are RIR X RIW?

    I don't have any meat birds at the moment...I am working on it but Compostman is not so keen....if ( when) I do get some for meat I shall not name them!

    Have you got that bear yet? I read your blog with some considerable alarm for you all!


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.