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!

Sunday 1 February 2009

Chickenailia Jan 2009

It is that time again! January has whizzed by in a wrtiting-portfolio-and-not-much else blur (for me) but I DO have the egg and general behaviour report for all things chicken related here at Compost Mansions ;-))

Despite January being of very short day lengths, and thus in theory being one of the lowest egg producing months, I have had a good lot of eggs from all the girls. It started badly, the first few weeks went very wrong! I was cock a hoop over how well the girls had done in December, if you remember and then I had hardly any eggs the first week of Jan!

Henny laid 20 eggs in December after coming back into lay from her moult and I was eggspecting a good lot of eggs from my best and biggest egg layer. But then she stopped! She HAS just started again and laid a good total of 5 eggs in the last 5 days.

Ginger started (finally) to squat for me and then came back into lay and has laid 9 eggs in 9 days, so I am hopeful that Henny and Ginger will be contributing regularly to the feed bill very soon!

Attilla laid 12 eggs and has more nice new feathers on her wings and bottom now, she looks very smart!

Cathy has laid no eggs at all but is a sweet ex battery hen and "purrs" most sweetly. I have finally managed to capture her purring on video! Listen carefully!And she IS purring, I think you will agree!

Sweetiepie started laying 4 days after she left the Sweetie Six to their own devices and had laid 13 eggs in 15 days at the end of December. She has continued this trend and laid a grand total of 27 eggs this month so is a joint star of the month with Babs!

Genghis Hen has been in fine form this month, no illnesses at all, she DID lay a very strange "egg" last week though, ...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 afterwards.....

But yet again, the absolute stars are Sweetie, Babs and Goldie! Yep the new girls laid the most eggs! Babs laid 27 and Goldie laid a magnificent 28 eggs out of a possible 31.

Goldie is therefore Chicken of the Week (see top right sidebar)

Babs head feathers are slowly growing back (she lost them due to being pecked, poor thing) and I have had to paint some magic purple spray on her head to stop the feather pecking. She was NOT impressed with this process I can tell you...

The Silver Dorkings continue to delight, Cap't Flint is now as large as the big girls although he still keeps a respectful distance from them. They all bully him and he keeps well away!

Long John Silver is very friendly to me and I hope that continues. He has just started mounting the hens and yesterday he "had a go" at Henny, Ginger, Babs, Goldie and Cathy! Phew where does he get the energy? He has also (this week) started to crow.....but that's OK, it's rather nice!

Ruby, Violet, Buffy and Willow are very sweet and now cluck rather than giving strangled squarks all the time.

With the weather being so cold I have been giving the chickens warm mash and lots of extra treats and high protein nibbles to keep them warm and happy and as a reward because I love them so.

As we have been having short 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.

They laid 110 eggs this month, which is really pretty good. From 6 egglaying hens
(forget about Genghis and Cathy the ex battys) they have averaged 3.5 eggs per day, which isn't bad going I think! AND the egg laying was 5 or 6 a day from the 6 laying hens this last week. Hopefully the better weather, the end of moulting and the beginning of the fab four Dorking girls coming into lay will mean more eggs for me to sell and recoup some of the feed bill as well.

I have, however, finally broken even with the feed bill this month....the girls have earned their keep this month, quite literally!

THANK you all, my lovely, lovely girls and boys, you make my life very happy!)

Henny and Sweetiepie.


  1. Wow! productive hens the new ones are :-) I loved looking at your pictures, I think the hens all seem to have different personalities that come through. Interesting that the hens also like warm food during the cold months.

  2. Such an interesting post CW and what productive beautiful girls you have! The girls look so healthy and contented. I loved the video clip of the purr! Most definitely a purr and such a happy contented purr at that! Cathy is so obviously a very happy ex-batt and although the she has laid no eggs she is so beautiful... and thanks to you she is now free to have a very happy life!! Listening to her purr brought tears to my eyes... she is so sweet. Thanks for that CW!!! Love Jane xxx

  3. Hello again lialz!

    They DO have their own personalities and funny little ways! Some will only lay in one best box, so if three of them all want to lay, they try to stack up on top of eachother, with an empty one next door...

    They have definate food preferences, one will not eat things another will hoover up...

    and they all have different clucks and purrs and angry squarks....

    At the moment they are being chased around by two randy teenage cockerels.....a few are just submitting (Henny, Goldie, Cathy) but Ginger, Attilla and Genghis hen
    are NOT amused and chase them off....

    Jane I am SO pleased I managed to record Cathy purring! I have been trying for ages and failing..I like to think she is having a wonderful life..ex batts are a bit more trouble and need more care I have found, and my two don't really lay, but I AM glad I have them , every time I see them in the sunshine or scratching around, it makes me feel good that they are free and happy...

    (whispers) I am glad I didn't give up on Genghis hen either, she is no longer a bully or an egg eater, I have cured her of those bad habits and she is now a delightful pet hen...

  4. I love that you take the time to tell us all about the girls, and how they are doing. This is good information.

    I'm happy to hear they all are doing well.


  5. Thank you Karyn!

    I freely admit I love my chickens, and am endlessly fascinated by what they get up to



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.