Thursday, 28 February 2013

Task complete!

Today is the last day of my 'Egg Log'. Throughout February I have logged which hens laid each day, what time of day we found the eggs, and how we used them. I've found it an interesting process. There have been a few pleasant surprises - such as Lemon laying her first eggs - and I've started to spot a few patterns in what was going on which pleases me greatly.

At its peak we had 16 eggs sitting on our kitchen side waiting to be used (and with three hens laying it seems this is going to be a more common sight).

I'm going to leave the raw data on the Egg Log for a while (probably until I think of a better use for the space), but I have also decided to have a go at distilling all the information into info-graphic format. I've never done anything like this before - so watch this space. I'm going to need some time to think of different ways to represent the stats - and then even more time to acheive what I have in my head on paper!

In the mean time, I'm going to celebrate the end of the egg logging process with a little challenge for each of you readers. You have a whole stack of available data to analyse, extrapolate, stare at or ignore at your peril! The question is this:

How many eggs will be laid on the 4th March, and by which hens?

Answers below by midnight on 3rd March, and I'll contemplate the concept of prizes. Have fun :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Spring has sprung?

I always love this time of year. Not particularly because of the weather which can still be quite wintery, but because the amount of daylight we receive is getting noticeably larger by the day. At the lowest point of the year we get a sunrise at about 8.15 and sunset at 16.00. This means that I spend pretty much every hour of sunshine at the office - not very inspiring.

Fortunately, this doesn't last forever. We've now reached that lovely point where the sun gets up before I do, and still hasn't completely set when I get home in the evening. I could sing for joy!

This reawakens me to the fun we had trying to put the chickens to bed last summer (check out my day-in-the-life post to read all about it). Over the last few months I've nipped over to the chicken coop when I've got home from work to find the girls snuggled up in bed. This has made shutting the coop door a doddle.

However, this week I've got home and found that they've only just gone inside for the night, and are wide awake really. I went to shut the coop door on Monday and discovered a face peering back at me - Frog had decided to have a look at what I was doing. Not very helpful! On this occasion me checking the nest boxes for eggs was long enough for her to decide that she did want to go to sleep really and I was able to slide the door home. Soon we'll have to start sneaking up on the coop again so that they don't all come running out to see whats happening. Let the games begin!

Friday, 15 February 2013

You want me to do WHAT?

On Tuesday this week three eggs were laid. That's right, you heard me, three. Two in the nest box where any sensible hen would lay them, and one out in the open. The third egg is similar in size to those we've been collecting from Pepper and, therefore, I do declare Lemon has started to lay eggs. What a nice hen.

Two days later I was getting ready for work and heard a commotion outside. Pepper was making quite a lot of noise, which isn't unheard of but is normally for a reason. We'd already collected a Pepper egg that morning, so these couldn't be celebratory clucks. I went to investigate.

It turns out that Pepper was only making a small portion of the noise. Lemon, on the other hand was in the coop making what I can only describe as "what the hell is my body doing to me" sorts of clucks. Think woman in labour and you wouldn't be far wrong. I left her to it, hoping that I was correct in thinking she was laying an egg, rather than anything more sinister.

Thursdays eggs.
Top to bottom: Lemon, Frog, Pepper
We've noticed before the distinct difference in how noisy the different breeds of chicken are. Frog, quiet and placid, rarely clucks at all, Pepper can be a little noisy at times. Fizzy and Lemon however, are both Orpingtons, and this turns out to be a much more vocal breed of chicken. Whether they are nervous, scared, excited, being bossy, or just letting you know the news from the coop, these two don't shut up. The variety of noises they make is great but hopefully once they get used to laying their daily eggs we won't be treated to the melodramatic squawks we had that morning too often.

When I checked for eggs again that evening there were two more waiting for me. Add them to the one egg collected in the morning, and I'd call that success.

Do you have any melodramatic pets? I'd love to hear your stories.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Fizzing Whizzbee

I have recently been posting video introductions of our clan. Last but not least in our flock we have Fizzy. Fizzy is everything the others were not. She was the first and the bravest of our hens to eat from our hands, and will always pay most attention to what we're doing in the garden - just in case there's something interesting happening. She is the first out of the coop every morning, and was the clever one that sussed out the feeder weeks before the others.

If you missed my earlier posts, have a peek at my introductions to Pepper, Frog and Lemon.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

And they're out....

I don't know about you, but this weekend we had a lovely sunny (if a little chilly) Saturday - perfect for doing all sorts of jobs in the garden. As the hens currently have no greenery in their run we made a little door in the side of the mesh and let them loose to free-range for the morning.

Pepper, in her wisdom and boldness, decided that pecking at everything that came her way was a plan - whether it be wire cutters as we created a door, or the string we used to lace it back up again. Clearly poking edible things through the bars of their run has been bad training!

Once the door was open they needed no persuasion at all. Off they went across the lawn to sample the delights of fresh grass, leaves, berries, dropped bird food and any thing else they could find. They supervised Joe turning the compost heap and tried to sneak a nibble on the new vegetable shoots while he wasn't looking.

Fizzy particularly enjoyed the autumn berries left on a few shrubs round the garden. We were worried that they might not do her any good, and kept trying to persuade her away from them, but she is a determined little hen. We even pruned away all the branches at pecking height, but she was still jumping to reach berries on higher branches. We still seem to have four healthy chickens however, so perhaps she knew what she was doing. I certainly shan't worry so much next time.

(A few pictures of the dust bath - but I'm afraid its hard to capture anything more than "bundle of feathers" in such scenarios!)

Their favourite pastime during the course of the morning was a dust bath. After months of wallowing in mud they found themselves a nice dry dusty piece of earth under our large hedge and dug themselves in for about an hour. Well, Pepper, Lemon and Frog did anyway, Fizzy mostly seemed to hover nervously round the edge and watch the other three bathe themselves. Since Pepper and Frog have started laying they have gained in confidence - and in pecking order position. Poor Fizzy has been seriously demoted and no longer pushes her way to the front of every queue. I'm sure she'll be back to herself when she starts laying eggs of her own though.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Keeping track

In order to satisfy the geek in me I have decided to make a note of which hen lays each day, and what we use the eggs for - for one month. I'm also slightly hopeful that over the month we might start getting eggs from more than just two hens too, for bonus points.

You'll be able to keep track with me by clicking on the Egg Log tab up at the top there ^. Maybe once I'm done I'll try and draw some "scientific" conclusions. I hope that someone else might find interest in this, but completely understand if its just me!

So for now all there is to say is that I'm starting this process off with 9 eggs on the rack and 1 egg collected this morning.