Re-homing for Christmas

I’d spotted that the British Hen Welfare Trust had some hens to re-home in our area and last Saturday was collection day. I’d been considering doing this earlier in the year and decided against it but now the time was right – particularly given that our existing flock haven’t laid any eggs for quite some time!

Following the instructions provided, a cardboard box was quickly adapted and after the short journey they all arrived safely in their makeshift chicken transport. A little ragged right now perhaps but they’ll hopefully soon get back to full fitness.

New arrivals in their box
New arrivals in their box


These hens were intended to provide some company for our solitary remaining “pet” hen – Adele – who has had separate quarters ever since an incident with our other white chickens which resulted in losing the use of one eye. She has been quite happy sleeping in a coop on her own and during the day she will simply hop over the stone wall to visit the other chickens when she feels like it.

The new hens soon found the layers pellets and were eagerly tucking in but I’m not sure their company is as welcome as we’d hoped. There has been a few instances of pecking and a little blood drawn but nothing unexpected. Mostly I find that Adele wanders off on her own and ignores them a lot of the time!

Tasty layers pellets
Tasty layers pellets


My master plan seems to be working though and after just two days they must be settling in well because they’ve come up with the goods already. That is a life saver as we needed some eggs for Christmas morning and I couldn’t bear the thought of buying some when we’ve got so many other hens!

Freshly laid eggs!
Happiness is a freshly laid egg!

Making plans for 2015

Since the second half of 2014 has been disrupted by the day job and other distractions, it’s gratifying to now make a start on plans for next year. There are so many ideas and possibilities that it can sometimes lead to a sense of paralysis if I’m not careful.

Here is a rundown on the most likely possibilities for next year but I provide no guarantee that any or all of these will actually happen – that’s the beauty of planning ahead, there’s plenty of time to change my mind!


After some memorable experiences raising two sets of weaners since the middle of 2013, the next step for us is to get a couple of gilts with a view to using them as breeding sows. These might also be accompanied by a couple of weaners just to provide some more pork for later this year.

The theory goes that if we raise the breeding sows from a young age then we should be completely at ease with them (and vice versa of course!) when they reach maturity. A full size adult pig will be a new experience for us so I hope they will be at least slightly friendly by then!


New for 2015 will be a limited and hopefully gentle introduction to keeping cattle. The plan is to get a Dexter cow and calf but that depends on the available stock from local breeders as we’d rather buy privately and fairly local if possible.

I’m still not convinced that I will be able to look a calf in the eyes and then still take it to slaughter when the time comes but there’s probably only one way to find that out for sure!


The plans for vegetable growing during 2015 are coming together slowly but surely. There was a brief moment when the idea of getting a polytunnel was seriously considered but that is probably not a good idea just yet. I have to recognise that there is only limited spare time with all the other activities planned around the day job.

The emphasis this year will be on increased quantities but from a more limited range of varieties. I’m particularly interested to investigate ways for storing the harvest either through freezing, drying or simply packing away in a cool, dry place.

Machinery and Equipment

Of course introducing larger livestock will mean much more heavy work is needed so that could prove to be the tipping point to convince me to get a compact tractor. Perhaps even a brand new Siromer if I can find the money – at least getting a new one should mean that it lasts for years

Obviously the tractor will need all the usual attachments – whatever they are – so I foresee many happy hours browsing the websites looking for bargains!

New Year, New Opportunities

There’s a lot to think about and lots of money to be spent if all plans go ahead so it’s definitely wise to do some proper planning before going ahead.

Finding the balance between planning things and doing things is not as easy as I first thought but I like to think that I’m getting better at it over time.