Thursday, 29 November 2007

Stay of Eggs-ecution

Listening to: The Blower's Daughter (Damien Rice)
Eating: a sneaky Hobnob before tea/dinner/supper

News from death row. . . the girls have earned a reprieve. It may be only one egg, but it's a move in the right direction and enough for the Governor (that'll be me) to hand out a stay of execution.

I've just staggered indoors after shutting the hens in for the night (not really necessary as there are no foxes and the feral cats steer clear of Spike and Owen), but I was delighted and even thrilled to find an egg lying in the straw.

I had pretty much made up my mind that the four surviving hens would have to move from hen house to stock pot before Christmas as the absence of eggs was getting a bit ridiculous.

I wanted to save the final decision for after the return on Sunday of Mrs Trainee Pig Farmer. Sal is an out-and-out townie and can be a little sentimental (can't we all?), so I reckoned it would be wrong to go ahead and wring their necks without going through the full consultation process.

As it is, their case has been put under review, pending the arrival of enough eggs to make a pig-farmer-sized omelette. Got to go, Amnesty are on the phone.


fiwa said...

Doesn't it take awhile for the hens to start laying eggs regularly? Maybe you need to tell them they're on the way to the soup pot if they don't get down to business. It's always worked for me with roses - I tell one it's about to get shovel pruned for lack of growth and bloom and replaced with something better - and suddenly it puts out a bloom.

The Birdwatcher said...

I think Fiwa is right on this. I can recall in my youth when we kep hens the new ones were always given a decent period to settle in and during winter they did very little anyway. Hope Mrs Trainee Pig Farmer concurs with you and gives then a long stay of execution. Their buggers to kill anyway. (Personal inexperience)

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of 'Chicken run' all this egg-counting business - I DON'T WANT TO BE A PIE! I DON'T LIKE GRAVY! (this is a lie - I love gravy).

Anonymous said...

Yep. My friends chickens took forever and laid sme weird shaped and tiny eggs at first. But once they finally started they lay like crazy. We should all be so lucky! ;)

ziggi said...

well that's a relief (for the hens)
- they'll all start now and it'll be fine until you get a broody one!

I quite miss my chickens reading about them here, I had ducks as well (Indian runners) - they were useless, but pretty!

Malc said...


The hen run is within sight of the kitchen window. I've taken to ostentatiously polishing the rather nice Le Crueset casserole dish Mrs TPF and I were given for a wedding present, making sure the girls can see what I'm doing.

And gardening with menaces? Which book was that in?


Wasn't looking forward to adding executioner to my CV, I have to admit.


Me too.


This one's a bit weird - long and thin like it was squeezed out, which I suppose it was.

. . . and I know the feeling!


Mrs TPF wants ducks (at least, I think that's what she said). That's going to involve me digging out a pond, I suspect. Still, digging appears to be the one thing I'm really good at round here - must be the Irish genes kicking in.

PG said...

I thought chickens laid less eggs in winter anyway, as they need the light? That's what one of the farmers in the village told me, in summer she has loads of eggs spare and to sell, but very few in winter - of course if they were intensive then you'd have artificial light to keep them going. Give the poor ladies a chance before they get souped!

ziggi said...

ducks are fine as long as you like mud - Indian Runners don't need much water, pondwise, and they were prolific layers in the summer. The eggs taste a bit odd though and ducks are really (REALLY) dim. They will not put themselves out of danger and practically throw themselves down the necks of passing foxes (or Spikes?). All our ducks were killed by foxes eventually (bring on the hunt)(how contentious)despite our best efforts - never lost a chicken to a fox. Are there foxes on Westray? If not delete comment!

Malc said...


Hello to the Cotswolds. Yes, I have taken into account the fact that its winter and I know a couple of other people who are not getting any eggs. Despite that, I do think the two older birds are past it, so they may have to go. When we arrived here, there was an (empty) battery cage set up in what's now the pig shed. I allowed my son and stepson to go at them with sledgehammers.


That's useful to know about the Indian Runners. Spike is under a pretty strict regime and is not allowed out unless on a lead. Before I get any more animals I will put up dog-proof fencing at the front of the house. There are no foxes on any of the Orkney islands, so the hunting thing is not an issue here. I couldn't care less either way really. I always thought there were far more important issues in the countryside - housing, low wages, transport, education and so on - don't get me started.

Amy said...

They knew what you were thinking and probably worked pretty hard to eke out that egg. When my roses are misbehaving, I put a shovel next to them. It never ceases to amaze me to find buds and blooms shortly thereafter.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Our chickens gave up laying in September after a music festival was held in the adjacent field...dont know whethr it was the Freddie Mercury tribute band or the fireworks.......saw you mention the blue lights in Shrewsbury....not ex Shropshire Star are you???

Malc said...


Another one from the school of gardening threats I see - is it an American thing?


Hello there! I take it that was Farmer Phil's Festival - I was sorry to miss that this year.

And very close. I gave 20 years of my life to the Star's older and uglier big brother the Express & Star. . . and were they grateful?

Ginni Dee said...

Hi Malc...I'm a friend of Fiwa's and have been reading your blog...YES, I AM one of those scary lurkers who you don't know about until they pounce!. I really have been enjoying it! Your blog, that is...not pouncing...well, that too!

I just wanted to add my 2 cents worth about getting eggs....All it takes is a 40watt bulb in your henhouse overnight. Altho on our farm we had no electricity (we didn't live there...just our chickens, horses, cats, geese and a couple dogs)so we used a kerosene lantern, hung up over the hens with a screw-eye and a carabiner so it wouldn't fall and burn down the place. My hens laid all winter long in the Midwest USA, the winter capital of the western world (well, maybe not, it feels like it sometimes)! I'd get as many eggs as I had hens on an average of 5 days a week. I hope that helps.

I loved having chickens and hope yours start producing for you soon. What's the old saying..."Give a man a cooked chicken and he'll eat for a day...give him a good layer and he'll eat for ..." well, however long a chicken lays!

If the light thing doesn't work....maybe if you set the stockpot in the henhouse for a few days. ;)


Puffincentral said...

Do you know that thing about how tell if they're in lay? When I had my own flock, they appeared to stop laying but turned out they were actually laying out. Found loads of eggs under various bushes. Earlier events may have spooked yours, so they could be recovering from that still or they could be laying their eggs away from your nestboxes. If you can put two finger-widths between their pelvic bones, they're in lay. Plus all the other good advice you've received is valid too.

Malc said...


Hello there. Thanks for the tips. We have a light in the shed, but I noticed tonight the bulb has gone, so I've fitted another and we'll see if that helps.


Hope today was as lovely in the town as it was on Westray.

You maybe missed the post where I explained I'm scared of hens and really struggle to go near them, let alone touch them. I know it's ridiculous and I'm a big baby, but checking their pelvic bones. . . !!!!!