Monday, 30 May 2011

Huffin and Puffin

Well, a few weeks and a big vets bill later, the dog has nearly stopped coughing and is now just huffing from time to time. We have been away to Skomer (an island managed by the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales) and seen Puffins, which were absolutely fabulous, and now we are coming back down to earth.

The Green Frog design chicken house has been put up and is now installed in the garden. It was quite easy to put together, with everything pre-drilled and clear instructions. I did most of the first stages and then Graham helped with the last bits. It probably took about an hour from start to finish, though taking it apart and putting it together again would be much quicker another time if we need to move it a long distance. It has already had an outing, down to a village gardening show in Llandegla with a pair of Lavender Pekins. Lots of people admired the design and the chickens! We just need some fencing now so that they can move in permanently. Jobs, jobs, jobs ...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Green frogs and vomiting dogs

I'm very excited today because my new chicken house from Green Frog Designs has arrived at the farm. It is waiting for me in flat packed boxes in the bathroom and I really want to put it into use. The only thing standing in my way is a vomiting dog, a dead goldfish, a mischevious three year old and all the other work that I'm meant to be doing. Things just keep conspiring against me ... it has been one of those weeks! And then I will be faced with lots of decisions - which chickens to put into the house ... a family of Lavender Pekin bantams, the broody Partridge Wyandotte to hatch her brood, or the latest batch of chicks? And where shall I locate it ... behind the garage in the area we call "the ditch" or under the beech arch. Decisions, decisions! Watch this space!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A prize for the best dressed nest

On our wildlife friendly farm the worlds of the farm animals and wildlife really do collide quite often. Take our House Sparrow population as an example. Since moving to the farm Mum has kept bird records for the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) for many years and it is really noticeable that our sparrow population has grown since increasing the chicken flock. So what is the relationship? The answer is corn … all our chickens are corn fed and free ranging, which leads to plenty of excess corn about the place for the sparrows to feed on too. In the process of increasing their farm flock the sparrows have also done some nest building, which is where the photo comes in. Our wide range of chickens gave them a lovely selection of feathers to choose from. Its hard to tell exactly which feather came from who but I’d guess at the reddish brown ones being Barnevelder, the black and white being Maran or Plymouth Barred Rock, and there are definitely some Buff Orpingtons and perhaps some Gold Campines too. It is almost worthy of being turned into a hat for Ascot. If you fancy a game of “spot the feather” go to for some breed photos and take your pick.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

... and getting ready for the growing season

Egg rolling celebrations complete, the next day of our Easter weekend was about getting down to some real work ... preparing for the growing season. We have a greenhouse at the farm, half full of grapevines and half full of plant pots, and this year we want it to be full of veg. Well, the grapevines, a vestige of past wine making plans, are staying too but the pots had to go. First things first we had to clear out an old shed of broken tools to make the new potting shed, and only then could we move the pots. With Daddy busy doing the hard graft, Grandma and Seren got down to some seed planting. We have some pretty heavy frosts here at Ty'n Y Llidiart, up in the Welsh hills of Llandegla so the greenhouse will be a real boon to extending the growing season.

A busy Easter weekend, egg rolling ...

We had a lovely Easter weekend at the farm, with time for fun and lots of jobs done too. An essential part of the day was the annual egg rolling with all ages of the family taking part, from Seren aged 3, to Grandma aged (well that would be telling!). First we all did our egg decorating, and then enjoyed matching egg design to artist, before rolling them down a bank in the top field. We chose to decorate small white eggs from the Gold Campines, Gold and Silver Appenzellers and Black Leghorns in our Feistyfowl flock.  Goodness knows what the sheep and hens thought as they watched our antics. It seemed somehow right that they were able to watch our family's interpretation on the celebration of new life.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Spring has sprung

New blog, new life. With Easter here it seemed the right time to talk about new life on the farm. We do have both spring lambs and spring chicks at Ty'n Y Llidiart now. The lambs are from our pedigree Lleyn flock and we have started to hatch from our rare breed chickens too. There have always been chickens at the farm but the full scale chicken project began when I fancied adding some Plymouth Barred Rocks to the farmyard flock. Before they had even hatched I was tempted to buy some Buff Orpingtons and Cream Legbars, and then some Gold Campines and Partridge Feathered Wyandottes to appease my husband who had been doing the shed building, then some Marans for deep brown eggs and it grew from there. Now we have a whole range of chickens, our Feisty Fowl flock ... and this year's hatching has commenced. Our first chicks to hatch this year have been Shetlands, Plymouth Barred Rocks, Silver Spangled Appenzellers and Welsummers.