Bluebell, Jack and Diesel were the first to arrive.
And Jack has laid some huge eggs over the year (read about this huge egg here)
The six Crested Cream Legbar girls arrived in February.
And Laddie joined us a few weeks later, sadly he didn't survive very long, but it was long enough to fertilise a couple of eggs, which we hatched.
And Big Red was hatched on 3rd May together with Little White, our first white Jersey Giant. (read about the hatching here). She was a beautiful chick, who grew into a beautiful chicken and we were very excited to be able to sample her first egg.
At twenty-three weeks old she started crowing and we had to accept that she was not a she at all, but a robust and good natured cockerel.
By twelve to fourteen weeks old Big Red was already a very promising cockerel, over the rest of the year he has grown into a large, happy and healthy boy.
Our next batch of eggs gave us two more Jersey Giants, an Australorp and hybrid cross.
These four chicks have now grown into lovely birds, the Australorp is almost at point of lay and the Jersey Giants appear to be a hen and cockerel, but I'm not going to be sure that the hen is a hen until it starts laying.
This splendid looking bantam cockerel came to stay for a while, he arrived with scaly leg mite which we treated until his legs were clear and he fathered four little chicks, two with Jack and two with Diesel. The two Diesel chicks are sweet little white girls with the occasional black splash feathers who have joined the flock as potential layers, although I don't expect them to start laying before spring. The cockerel went to live with our friend Helen when we got a replacement for Laddie the Cream Legbar cockerel.
His replacement was Jarvis who looked splendid, but the girls didn't take a shine to him and he was quite rough with them. They did, however, like one of the younger cockerels that we got at the same time as Jarvis. So Jarvis was dispatched and the Cream Legbar girls now live happily with Squeaky and Poo, who so far haven't fought over the ladies and seem to co-exist with relative harmony.
I continued to buy in hatching eggs.And the Dirty Dozen were hatched at the end of July. Eight Australorp chicks and four hybrids (the bantam's offspring).
At eight weeks old, we separated the Australorps into their own enclosure. It looks like we may have one female and seven males. So together with the Australorp female from the previous hatch, we should be able to breed our own birds next year.
At the same time as raising new chickens, we also got ducks and raised ducklings.
Frederick and Mrs Warne arrived in mid Spring, a young pair who had bonded well and she was already laying eggs almost daily. I added a couple of her eggs to the incubator and our first two ducklings stole our hearts.
At around ten weeks old the ducklings joined their parents in the main duck field and have integrated well.
The next batch of eggs were bought in from two different sources so that there is an introduction of new genes into the flock. From those eggs we hatched five ducklings which are seem happy and healthy and are now almost ready to join the flock. Once we have established which of the young birds that have hatched this year are male, we will select the one or two that we want to keep for breeding and dispatch any other males.
As I type, I have one more batch of eggs in the incubator. It's very late in the year to be raising birds, but we will keep the young chicks under the cover of the stable until they are fully feathered and ready to venture outside in the winter cool.
Looking back over the first year on our smallholding, we have achieved so much, learnt so much and laughed so much. We still have much to do, much to learn and hopefully much, much more to laugh about.
I've written further blogs looking at the vegetable garden and permanent planting areas . The best way to ensure that you don't miss them is to subscribe to my blog, which you can do below!
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