Listening to: Gorehound (The Cramps)
Eating: perfect creamy porridge with a little brown sugar (don't know what went wrong last time)
Weather: sou'westers and wellies, tie the cat down
I've never been keen on hens. There's something about the pecking, clucking, flappy, feathery, ugly as sin little creatures that has always freaked me out. I'm actually a bit scared of them.
I do, however, love eggs, so I was happy enough to welcome our five hens to the croft. I took a deep breath, told myself to grow up and got on with looking after them.
We have been getting an egg a day and it has to be said I was getting to the point where I was seriously considering culling the two older non-layers (two of the hens are young and not quite ready to lay).
Now the egg supply has dried up altogether. Being an old softy, I am happy to give the girls every chance to get their act together so I read one of the many books we have on smallholding/crofting (How to Avoid Being Laughed At On A Small Island by A. Townie).
I had the housing, bedding and the feed all sorted correctly, but it seems that light is the key to improved egg production.
Apparently hens need at least 16 hours light every day - not easy when, in the depths of winter on Orkney it gets light at about 9am and goes dark again at 3.30.
No problem, let's rig up a light. Then I read the next paragraph which suggested a dimmer switch be fitted. Dimmer switch? That's a bit 70s, isn't it? Why not go the whole hog and put in a strobe and a glitter ball? I have visions of visiting the hens late at night, having to tell the bouncers I'm on the guest list, then finding the girls in spandex and sequins, bopping to Abba's greatest hits with the bubble machine going full pelt.
You really get too much time to think up here.
Anyhoo. . . dimmer switch it says, so dimmer switch it will be. Mr D is coming to help me install the new system, with switches for Eric and Ernie's quarters, a set-up for heat lamps for future pig litters and so on. If that doesn't do the trick, I shall take to casually rattling the lid of the casserole dish out of the kitchen window.