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 3 February 2009

How I amused myself today....

What do you do when its cold and snow covered outside and you don't want to play in it any more?

You worm the hens! well I did!

they were all given a course of Flubenvet over the Christmas holidays but I give them a precautionary dose of Verm X on wholemeal bread for 3 days at the start of every month, just to be on the safe side.

Chickens have worms, due to all the stuff they pick up off the ground, but the trick is to make sure they only have a small worm burden, so it doesn't cause them discomfort or harm their health.

The chickens all really LOVE this stuff! I have to work quite hard to make sure they only get their recommended dose as they all try to eat each others food.

icicles on Cluckingham Palace

Today was a Red Letter Day as well! For the first time since the beginning of December all 6 of the laying hens, well, laid!

Yes, today the lovely lovely girlies laid 6 big beautiful eggs.

And because I had the odd five minutes to spare ( for that read "because I am so proud and besotted with my hens" ) I thought I would put up these pictures of the different shaped and coloured eggs the girls lay, as so many people seem baffled that I can tell them apart!

Babs, Attilla and Goldie eggs with their typical weights.

Henny, Sweetiepie and Ginger eggs with their typical weights. The Henny egg in this picture was actually 90 g as she hadn't laid yesterday and after a missed day an egg is usually laid very early in the day and is bigger.

Can you see the different colours and shapes? Surely you can?

For a comparison with shop bought eggs, I went to the Defra web site to see what the weights were and it made very interesting reading!

I am not governed by most of these rules as I only sell direct to people, I don't grade my eggs and I have less than 50 hens, but it makes for interesting reading.

XL - VERY LARGE eggs weighing 73g or more
L - LARGE 63g up to (but not including) 73g

So ALL my girlies lay Large eggs, and most routinely lay Very Large eggs!

I also discovered a few things I wasn't aware of.

The term “extra” or “extra fresh” may only be shown on packs until the ninth day after lay. This nine-day time limit and the laying date shall be shown clearly on packs.

so a shop bought "fresh" egg can be up to 9 days old, hmmm? that's not MY idea of a "fresh" egg!

“Display Until” or “Sell by” dates are not required on packs of eggs, however, there is an obligation to ensure eggs are sold to the consumer within 21 days of lay, so retailers may prefer to have such additional stock control dates on their packs

So, a shop bought egg could be up to 21 days old when you buy it.....

The eggs *I* sell are usually 1 to 3 days old at most.

Food for thought, indeed!


  1. I just wish mine would leave a label or something - or at least send me a text message when they've laid so I can hazard a guess at the ownership.

    Ah well, it'll come with practice (I hope)

    As for the "freshness", I sometimes sell some that are about 5 days old but always with strict instructions that they need to be cooked up that night or the following morning.

    Incidentally, one of my thieving cats has just pinched the empty hell from my plate that used to contain boiled eggs and is having a great game chasing it round the kitchen. The mess, however, is not so great...

  2. Funny people ask me how I even know my chooks apart!!
    I tell them because they are distinctly different from one another!
    Fresh eggs are never fresh eggs till you have them from your own in the yard! Then yes you know what fresh googies are!
    We successfully hatched too....7 little darlings,Wow they growfast!

  3. Jo, I really wouldn't worry about 5 day old eggs...after all, they are 4 X fresher than those possibly for sale in shops!

    We eat older eggs....!

    I sell mine with an "eat within 3 weeks" label as rec by Katie Thear...

    and make sure I sell the freshest eggs and we eat the slightly older ones, after all I can always pinch a few fresh ones for our use!

    and on the ID ing eggs...don't forget I am here all the time as I work from home..whereas you are not, which makes it very hard to listen to a manic cackle and rush out to see who has just laid!

    plus, you have a life... ;-))

  4. A Bite of Country Cupcakes

    ooooh new chicks! arn't they sooo sweet?

    I agree, unless you eat a fresh laid egg you have no idea !

    I just wish all eggs were from hens who had a decent life and at least got to go out side in the fresh air and scratch around a bit.....even if they don't get the sort of extensive free ranging all yours and mine and Jo and other blog friends lot get...

    Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Lovely pictures of the girls and their super gorgeous eggs!! They must taste divine!
    Also been enjoying your lovely snow pictures, Compostman and Compostgirl look as is they were having a great time!
    Love the pictures of the woods and to have your own hare, thats amazing!! Must have been a very special moment in the beautiful wood with the birds singing and then the appearance of the Hare, its years since I have spotted a hare, the last time was looking out of the window across the fields at my Mum and late Dads old house and Dad pointed to the hares jumping around and playing in the fields.
    With Love, Jane xxxx

  6. Hello Jane!

    Serena the Hare has graced us with her presence for 3 winters now :-)

    I feel most blessed to see her now and then!

    Eggs ID! well can YOU see they are all different? I am beginning to wonder if I am a bit mental?

    Comostman keeps saying " they are all eggs, and look the same?"

    But YES they do taste divine!

    Oh how I wish I could send you some, but I rather think they would get broken in the post!!

  7. I'm so jealous :)
    I've seriously thought about trying to keep a couple hens here.. I've been told my township will let us have just a very few but I've never actaully asked them.

  8. If ever I visit you I bring eggs, jam and chutney.....

  9. I have to admit, when I read the first lines of your post, I cringed a little. But I suppose its all part of the package, they give you their eggs, and the care in return just makes sense. As you said in one of the other comments, thinking about the hens whose lives are so confined is sad. I am glad yours are producing so well for you and have lots of space to roam around.

  10. Hello Pat, nice to see you in here.

    Hens are lovely and most of the time very easy to keep, as long as they are well looked after and tended to. Perhaps you should investigate? :-)

    LIALZ...I don't have to do anything other than squirt some liquid onto a slice of bread, divide it up and make sure each hen gets a squirt worth...nothing too ikky

    The Flubenvet was another matter...it comes in a pack with instructions for dosing a weeks worth of feed for a LOT of hens ( its geared to a commercial producer...) so I had enormous fun calculating the tiny amount of powder I needed per hen per day for 7 days....and then working out how to actually measure out that small quantity ...

    I managed and have written down what I did so I can do it again in 6 months or whenever...

  11. Hi CW

    I was given a great tip for giving flubenvet to my hens. Gently press half a grape per hen into the powder and feed. Repeat for 7 days. Mind you I have only 6 hens (for now ;) )so perhaps more hens would be trickier, seeing as they all LOVE grapes and snatch at them.

    I also use verm-x liquid on bread as a precaution. I love the smell of it.

    You have some lovely deep brown eggs amongst your layers :)

    Karen xx

  12. Hello Karen :-)

    I saw your suggestion on your forum so I tried that...it was mayhem! I ended up with hens jumping up at me , and the Dorkings not wanting the grapes at all ( they don't like them, apparently....)

    Trust my chickens to be difficult!

    so I worked out the equivalent in volume what dose the hens had to have each day, and then took a slice of bread, chopped it into pieces, sprinkled 4 doses worth on it, and hand fed 4 hens with the bread.

    I then repeated the process for the next 4, having let the first lot out into the garden.
    The Dorkings were done inside the run .

    I got a good routing going and it didn't take longer than my normal morning check over of everybody..and I even remembered to WRITE DOWN what I had done, so I can do it again.....

  13. I agree, it is mayhem when the grapes come out, well it is here anyway!
    Another good idea about the bread, will try that too.

  14. It has JUST occurred to me that I could have simply dipped a grape sized piece of bread in the Flubenvet....and fed it to each hen individually....

    (Cw smacks head...) that would have saved me all that converting weights to volumes!


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.