The Adventures Of Coop & The Gang

Eggs Glorious Eggs August 21, 2011

Well I’ve got one in ear on the hob listening out for the potatoes from the garden to come to the boil and the other ear on the back door in case we have an invasion of the miniature beasts of burden. The girls are out and about, pooing and sunbathing only really bothering to move about for food and water oh and some chair acrobatics. I say move about for food but really all I mean is strain the necks to grab a ripe tomato from the plant they are enjoying some dappled shade from.

But dinner consists of our own potatoes, green beans and quiche made from a lovely contribution from the girls, bacon from a local piggy, onions from the in laws and pastry made by my own fair hands on the living room floor, the only space big enough, with all local ingredients.

There isn’t a lot in this household that we won’t eat, but surprisingly we are a one egg eating household. Despite this, someone is eyeing up Doris up for Christmas…which in the true sense of pocket farming should be the ultimate goal, but she has a face and a name and I love her too much for all that.

But what do you do with so many eggs? With three a day coming in most days without fail we have set up a relatively friendly egg exchange…I’ve had rhubarb, green beans, courgettes, eggs box a plenty and the offer of money.

There is a lot said about fresh free range eggs and when you hold a fresh warm egg in your hand there is nothing more exciting than the thought of its bright orange yolk and its subtle depth of flavour oh and the tiny bit of relief when a little bedraggled chick hasn’t fallen out.

As with everything home grown you take your time and give it a little more love on the search of perfection, it’s the same with eggs, the yolks range from a beautiful sunny yellow to a deeper orange following the days they’ve snuffled around the garden and guzzled on their favourite treats. The whites are firmer and hold their shape significantly more to their shop bought counterparts.

We scramble, we fry and we boil, but the firm family favourite is pavlova… egg whites from 3 large eggs lovingly hand whisked with 6oz (175g) cast sugar, no room of fancy gadgets in our pocket kitchen, until stiff and baked in the oven for an hour on 140 then left to go stone cold in the oven. In this time we lovingly use the left over yolks with two other whole eggs, a spot of milk and a filling of your choice encased in pastry and you have a beautifully rich no left overs beautiful quiche. My favourite use of half a dozen and I am sure the girls would approve of the use of two days hard work.

How do you eat yours?


Boredom Busting Ideas July 1, 2011

It somehow seems wrong talking about fun when I think if I move I might melt to the sofa, but that was the name of the game this week.

Rightly or wrongly I feel bad for the time the gang are hulled up in Coop, all their freedoms are met and they have plenty of space, food, water, access to shade, sunlight and everything they need. But chickens are a lot smarter than I thought.

& my Chickwans are no different. They know exactly what is going on and where they need to be. Recently we have been trying to expand their routine where possible to stretch their minds and their legs and in some cases their wings.

We’ve made corn harder to reach for, seemingly impossible without a little cunning & thought. This has particularly caught the attention of top hen Mave. I so much as have to bend over to water the plants & I feel like a pirate with parrot Mave on my shoulder wanting pieces of eight. She will do anything for corn, she stamps her feet about working for it but she’ll get there.

If you google entertainment for chickens there are lots of tips and ideas, a few I decided to give a go. I swear these chickens are out to bankrupt me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. For the most part they will keep themselves amused but I want them to have more fun associated with me. Its all about me!

I tend to have a salad every day for lunch, I tend to have a lot of off cuts, lettuce, pepper, celery so I got a “Boredom Beating Food Ball” from the good people at the Eglu Omlet Shop  Its a wire ball that allows you to fill with anything you wish to keep any pet amused, it works a treat. A great way for them to get some more vitamins and minerals, handy waste disposal and it can be as challenging or not depending on where I place the ball. They like cauliflower more than me, a great share and everyone needs a good stretch in the morning.

The next investment came courtesy of typing chicken fun into ebay and seeing what came up and it turned out to be this lovely little ball from Savic entitled Chicken Fun a wonderful little plastic number with some elastic holding the two sides together for you to put treats inside, in my case meal worms and corn, the more they bat it around the more goodies fall out. I don’t know who had more fun with this, them playing with it or me watching them! Check out the video on the website.

Flo was the first the get her head around it, Doris a close second and Mave, well she point blank refused to even entertain the notion that she might have to work for treats and just kept flapping on my knee. Soon learnt her though.

It’s not a treat they get everyday but its certainly fun watching them all bat it around, trying to swipe it from each other. We’re in full egg production so they can’t be too unhappy. They catch the odd slug in the garden, much to each others great amusement whoever found it runs around the garden hotly pursued trying to find a quiet spot to nom it in peace.

Me, well I’m going to keep feeling guilty about keeping them shut away for too long, working to the pay the bills and saving for the dream of a long lush paddock where the gang can be as free range as they like with some lovely little friends.


‘Coop’ Improvements June 19, 2011

Filed under: Keeping Chickwans — Coop & The Gang @ 7:10 pm
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Phase one of the transformations of Coop are underway, we’ve always wanted to do more for the gang and enrich their lives with Coop.

With the days getting longer and the light coming in early in the morning our girls have become very vocal. Initially I would cover the Perspex windows in the hen house with cardboard at night and this would keep the early morning squawking to a minimum, with the bad weather there hasn’t been enough cardboard to keep our windows in darkness and we’ve had the odd early morning sqwark off with the birds.

Another priority has been to maximise the space available and things to do for the girls for the hours they spend in Coop during the day so the girls have as much room to flap about as they like and things to keep them amused. We decided that the ramp to the hen house wasn’t really enough of a challenge for our girls and took up a lot of room.

Last week we found ourselves on B&Q, other DIY specialist are available, but not all offer cash back on spends! We threw around even more ideas, backed and forthed around the isles and came home with a banister post, and 18mm diam 1m wooden pole and two boot liners for a £1 each. Total spend £9. Bargain.

With the weather nice and the girls chomping at freshly mowed grass we set our respective projects. I had many elaborate ideas for the window dressing, even some little curtains with something Cath Kidson material, this was vetoed. I had thought about attaching a stainless poll above the window with screw eye hoots, with a material drop also weighted that could be hooked up onto cup hooks. On further inspection of Coop I thought this would be over kill , I toyed with Velcro rip off squares, taping up the windows. But I like the idea that day is day and night is night for the birds whether they are hanging out in the hen house or going to sleep.

Someone might have come up with the idea of creating a loop around the door in its entirety that could be removed during the day and placed over at night. That way preserving Coop with out any additional holes or strain, I don’t know whose idea it was and originally I wasn’t so keen but actually after much snapping back of the tape measure and sucking air in through my teeth it actually wasn’t such a bad idea.

I set about unpicking my £1 boot liner, waterproof, fully light proof and black. Once the sides have been removed and it was flattened out, folded and duck taped, it was wrapped around the door and secured. Ta da, fingers crossed the sqwarking and clucking will appear a little later tomorrow.

The boys project was the new ramp to the house, I was a little sceptical as he’s a do now, think later kind of man and doesn’t get called “bodge it Baxter” for no reason. I also wasn’t too on board with his idea, but actually, I’d like to eat my hat. It has been cut at both ends on the angle to make it a more direct route to the hen house with 4 18mm drilled holes at various stages on one side of the banister and four lengths of the wooden pole hammered in one side. It has received its first coat of creosote and a request has been put in for a bracket to be made up so that we can ensure its sturdy enough for the girls to use and hopefully this will be fully installed in the next week or so.

Mave took it for a test drive aided by corn and she seemed to cope very well with the challenge, but she appears to have become our most height adventurous hen, if she thinks corn is involved. She’ll flap up and sit on your knee and quite happily perch on your shoulder or your arm.

We’ve already thought of a few other things we can improve, just got to work out how! and I’ve got some treats and entertainment arriving this week and I’m still working on our food and water situation, that’s already a blog post in itself.

Never a dull moment with Coop and The Gang.