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 March 2009

Chickenailia Feb 2009

It is that time again! February has whizzed by in a having-a-rest-from-writing-my-portfolio and planting seeds and stuff but I DO have the egg and general behaviour report for all things chicken related here at Compost Mansions ;-)

February sees the day lengthening noticeably and thus egg laying really starts to improve. The girls all look happy and pleased to be able to eat some bugs and worms and are very happy that nasty cold white stuff has all gone!

I have had a good lot of eggs from all the girls and of course the BIG story this month was the Fab Four Dorking girls all started laying!

Henny laid 21 eggs in January, she lays the biggest eggs! 90 - 100 g dark brown speckled whoppers!

Ginger has laid well this month, 22 eggs and she has done lots of funny things as well! I have worked out that Henny and Ginger are now 2 years old, so they are doing very well for us.

Attila laid 18 eggs BUT is in disgrace for trying to eat the eggs from the Dorkings whenever she can steal them from the Eglu...I am going to have to have a good hard think about her I am afraid as I can't have that happening.

Cathy has laid no eggs at all but is a sweetie and very gentle and loving.

Sweetiepie was a joint star of the month in January and has continued this, laying 23eggs in Feb.

Genghis Hen has been ill and I was very worried, I had to up end her and massage her crop this week as she had got "sour crop" where the contents ferment and go smelly and disgusting. So I now can add "making chickens vomit" to the skills list on my CV...

Genghis NOT at all impressed with the snow!

She is also suffering from Sterile Egg Peritonitis where her egg laying workings have gone wrong and she swells up and leaks fluid out of her vent. I had to clean her bum up as it was raw from the fluid, isolate her from the others (as they would have pecked her red, sore bum until it was torn) and give her lots of TLC. She is OK now and back with the others but it WILL happen again, poor old girl :-(

But yet again, the absolute stars are Babs and Goldie! Yep they laid the most eggs! Babs and Goldie laid a magnificent 26 eggs out of a possible 28 this month.

The big girls laid 136 eggs this month, which is really pretty good, from 6 egg laying hens (forget about Genghis and Cathy the ex battys) they have averaged 4.8 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 from mid Feb.

The Silver Dorkings continue to delight, Cap't Flint has "claimed" the Fab Four Dorking girls as his personal harem and they live in the Eglu, although he still tries to get off with the big hens whenever he can. Long John Silver is now living in Cluckingham Palace with all the big hens and they are HIS harem.

Long John Silver is very friendly to me and I hope that continues. Cap't Flint has chased Compostgirl a few times and I have had to push him off with my foot and show him who is boss!

Ruby, Violet, Buffy and Willow are very sweet and now cluck and croon at me and follow me around! And, of course, they are all now laying!

After an erratic start mid Feb where we had an egg then a day off then an egg from each of them, they ALL laid an egg every day in the last week of Feb AND they managed to do it in the nest boxes, not on the ground!

They lay quite small eggs at the moment but with the MOST amazing yellow yolks! Even more so than all the other hens!

Ruby has laid the biggest egg so far (50g) and so is therefore Chicken of the Week (see top right sidebar)

The Fab Four Dorking girls coming into lay will mean even more eggs for me to sell and recoup some of the feed bill as well. I have now 3 regular customers who LOVE the eggs and think they are fabulous!

Eggs in the 'fridge, 3 days worth, 30 eggs.....

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


  1. After an egg-laying dip a couple of weeks ago our girls have picked up now - 19 eggs in 3 days from 7 layers (and 2 POL who are hopefully about to add to that total as well).

    And isn't it lovely when customers comment on how good the eggs taste.


  2. I actually managed to "sell" 1/2 doz of the 50g Dorking eggs to one of my lovely eggisting customers ( on top of his regular order!) just by telling him about the amazing colour of their yolks today

    I am selling them at half the price of the "big" hens, as they are quite tiny, but they are THE MOST amazing yellow colour...scramblies have to be seen to be believed, I must take a pic next time we have some...

    I really must be doing things right with my hens, and so must you!

    People may say we pamper our hens BUT it IS worth it when they keep on laying and produce such wonderful eggs...

    I am now covering the feed AND bedding bill AND we get to eat loads of eggs for ourselves as well, and I am making inroads into the capital outlay on the hen houses now...which is good!

    I reckon I can make the hens pay for all the costs in a couple of years, if they are kept well and happy.... ;-) and of course they are so good at providing compost booster AND act as mobile pest controllers in the garden!

    Could you do a post about what breeds you have Rosie? I have found the best egg layers are my Rhode Rocks ( Black Rocks x with RIR) and my Maran hen and then my Black Rock for size and my RIR x PR X Light Sussex for quantity.

    What do you find?

  3. I started at the beginning of the year to keep a note of how many eggs I got each day, and who laid them, but I got a bit distracted at the end of January into February and kept forgetting. I've started again now in March so by April I might be able to post an egg tally too.

    Sorry, but another question for you. There's been a bit of talk on the Omlet forum this week about lice and other crawlies. Do you routinely treat your hens for crawlies? If so what do you use?

  4. I can't wait to get started in May when I can have my own "hen" family. Margaret

  5. Margaret I can't wait to see pictures of your hens, either!

    Will you be coming to see us before hand? and would you like a magnificent Silver Dorking Cockerel?

    wpt, I routinely dust with Barrier red mite/louse powder in the houses and I dust the chickens every 2 months all over and check them weekly and so far this seems to have kept the little buggers at bay!

    Although I had other sad stuff to deal with today, as you can read in my latest post :-(


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.