Thursday, 11 October 2007

Let's all have a disco

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.

4 comments:

I, like the view said...

when I lived in Shropshire I had a friend who had a huge flock of hens in the orchard where she had her kiln (she was a potter)

I remember when she had hens whose eggs used to get stuck instead of being laid. . .

poor hens!

the yolks were really really bright orange because of the chlorophyll in the grass they pecked at (I think I've gotten the science on that one correct, but maybe I haven't)

I suffer from SAD so I use a light box in the autumn/winter to up my light intake; I switched it on the other day for what will now be a two hour daily ritual. . .

haven't manage to lay anything tho

;-)

Malc said...

Maybe you need to push a bit harder?

Sorry about the SAD - the light box ritual must be a drag.

The Birdwatcher said...

That is some image, dancing hens! When I was a lad I tried to cull one of ours that was apparently unwell. It proved impossible. It did have a bit of a crick in its neck though.

Reg Pither said...

You're scared of chickens!! You're a 6ft lump of breeze block-shaped lard and you're scared of chickens!!!!
Go on then, tell me? Where, on a northerly isle, do you go to buy five duff hens? Wherever it is, I knew you'd find it in the end.