Category Archives: chickens

Easter Eggs

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Happy Easter/Passover

6 buff/speckled sussex eggs – Version 2

I keep Buff Sussex & Speckled Sussex Chickens – these are some of the eggs laid over Easter.

Its the Easter weekend, which also happens to coincide with the week of Passover this year. Both Festivals feature eggs in some way.

Chocolate eggs of all sorts are given to the kids for Easter – which is actually nothing to do with the message of Easter, but is a remnant of the pagan festivities around the Spring Solstice.  They symbolise new life.  I’ve no idea how they turned into chocolate eggs.  I looked it up in Wikipedia, but this is all they say!

In 1873 J.S. Fry & Sons of England introduced the first chocolate Easter egg in Britain.

In Western cultures, the giving of chocolate eggs is now commonplace, with 80 million Easter eggs sold in the UK alone.

It’s a bit more informative about the festivals of Easter, and the Passover Seder which is a long family meal, during which the story of the EXODUS is told.

In some traditions, hard boiled eggs are served in a bowl of salt water at the beginning of the meal. The symbolism is also ‘new life’ but the salt water is added as a reminder of the tears of sorrow shed by the Hebrew Slaves in Egypt, before they escaped.  Led by Moses, who brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness of the desert, before they were deemed reborn and ‘given’ the area of land now called Israel.

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Buff Sussex hens

I have kept chickens for many years.  When I moved to the cottage after the landslip, one of the joys was to have more space to keep them, as I have a large garden here, in West Wales.

They live in the old garden shed I inherited, but during the day, they enjoy the luxury of being free range chickens, and are tidying up the garden for me, which as you can see, needs a lot of work! So far I haven’t had any foxes in, cross fingers!

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Speckled Sussex cockerel with Buff Sussex Cockerel and one of the hens

I have a glut of eggs at the moment – my hens started laying a few weeks ago – and the yolks are bright yellow!  The colour comes from eating the grass – which I haven’t needed to mow, so far!  If anyone reading this lives around Lampeter, I’m selling the eggs for £2 a dozen, if you’d like to get in touch – smile – just leave me a message on the Contact Me page.

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The Speckled Sussex hens are really pretty!

 

Newz from Julz

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NB:  There is a form at the end of this post – please fill it in for a 10% discount!  For what? Well just read the blog!

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A Frosty Morning in January

Well, I don’t know about you, but it feels like this has been a very unusual winter in West Wales.  The weather has been all over the place, and there is more to come – smile – there is always more to come!  However, there are signs that spring is on the way.  Snow drops are starting to appear, and daffodil shoots seem to be pushing up all over the place.

I have a large garden here – part of the reason I moved was so that I could raise chickens, and here are a couple of them!

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a couple of my 6 month old buff sussex chickens

The first batch of Buff Sussex started off in my incubator at the end of July, and are nearly 6 months old now, and hopefully will start laying soon. I ‘m just praying that the foxes don’t come around!

There is a lot of work to be done in the garden, and I have been pruning some of the overgrown trees and bushes this week, and planning where to put the veg patch and what plants I want to grow.  It will all take some time!  So it seems will the changes I want to make to the cottage!

There is one more important change that I am making….

….. and I’d like your help!

As many of you will know, part of the reason I blog is to let you know about the small business I run  –

new etsy banner

I sell a mix of craft supplies and gift items, which you can find here on etsy – and here on ebay.

I have thought about setting up my own website for a long time.  Whilst selling on the above outlets has worked fine for over 10 years – its getting more and more restricting.

The last straw, was when ebay recently changed their rules, and no longer allow any outside links on the listings – so – I was forced to take down any links to this blog – even the tutorials that go with some of the listings!  They don’t want to give buyers a chance to contact sellers direct, as they might lose some of their revenue.  However, since I am a business seller, my full details have to be shown on every listing!  Makes no sense at all, and I even told them that – but its the new corporate era for ebay, and they really don’t care about what I say!  They have changed so much since I first started selling with them – it was much more fun!

Anyway – whilst I will still keep the sites with ebay & etsy – I have taken the plunge and bought a business site with WordPress. 

I have been spending ages since Christmas working out how to use it and adding much of my stock – and have still got some major decisions to make about how I want it to look!

Originally, I’d thought I could just add a page or two to this blog – but it turned out that all the complicated stuff – like a shopping cart and taking payments etc wouldn’t work with this blog’s format.  You might have noticed that I tried working out whether I could sell direct from this blog a while back – and it didn’t exactly work well! (The lantern I was selling there has just been sold on etsy, and it went to Phoenix, USA!)

blackshopcardSo its a separate site, with a slightly different logo.  This is my first attempt at a business card for it – but I think it needs a bit more work – just as well I only got 100 of these cards printed!

As you can see, I’ve called it THE STORE.  This was to make sure it doesn’t get mixed up with the SHOP on etsy.

THE STORE ISN’T OPEN YET.  

If you try clicking on the link above, you should just get a page saying that the website is “under construction” – but feel free to have a look – there’s a nice picture with the message!  If by any chance, you do get to the site itself, please let me know, as something will have gone wrong!

In the meantime – would you be kind enough to take a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire?  It would be nice to know how many of you would be interested in using THE STORE.

Anyone who fills in the form below, will be sent a 10% OFF COUPON to use when the site becomes public – in the next few weeks- hopefully!

I look forward to hearing from you – thanks!

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The Twelve Days of Christmas: Part 5 – 4 Calling Birds

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My “12 days of Christmas Sale” has started in my ETSY SHOP

****** For more details, please see my previous post  ******

Exploring the 12 Days of Christmas History and Life in the 18th Century  

By Christine Henrichs – originally published in Backyard Poultry Magazine (2013) – I have added a few photos and modified the text slightly!

 12DaysChristmasBIRDS-1Four Calling Birds

 

In the Carol ” The Twelve Days of Christmas”,  Day Four, the “calling” birds were originally “collie” or “colley” birds, meaning black-as-coal blackbirds. My poultry mind wants to stretch and consider that they could have been black domestic fowls, such as the old French breeds, all of which were often black, or black Spanish chickens.

Black turkeys also were popular in the 18th century in Europe. ( see photo at end of post)

 

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A very black Blackbird! Not sure why they should have been a gift to a ‘true love’, but they were thought to have magical powers, and are well known for their beautiful ‘song’, so maybe they are in fact “calling birds’ – smile

Black fowl lost favor because the dark feathers show up in the skin of the bird prepared for the table, unlike white feathers. In the 19th century, white birds lost popularity because they were thought to be constitutionally weak. Fashions in food are as variable as fashions in dress.

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jersey giant cockerel

Many breeds have modern black color varieties. American breeds such as Javas, Jersey Giants, sometimes called Black Giants, and the English Orpington have black heritage. Asian breeds such as Cochins and Langshans have a strong history of black plumage. Sumatras are always black.

Black varieties of Orientals are relatively recent, such as Malays and Cubalayas. Among Mediterranean breeds, the White-Faced Black Spanish is an old breed. Minorcas were originally an entirely black breed called Red-Faced Black Spanish.

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cayuga duck

Black East Indies ducks are an old breed, although whether they date back to the 17th century is a matter of discussion. Some authorities trace their history back only as far as the 19th century. Cayuga ducks are always black. The recognition of the breed dates back to the 19th century, but it originated from wild American Black ducks crossing with domestic ducks. A black variety of Runner ducks is recent, 20th century. Black ducks could fit the description of “colley” birds.

Black turkeys were popular in Europe, and after Columbus introduced the wild turkey, American colonists crossing the Atlantic brought domesticated black varieties with them. Turkeys were often known by their origin as well, such as the Norfolk Black and the Black Spanish.

In domestic poultry, black plumage has an iridescent quality that gives it a greenish sheen, sometimes complemented with violet. The feathers are truly beautiful and eye-catching, suitable for a gift that would honor the season.

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A ‘spanish style’ Black Turkey

Three French Hens – at last Part 4 – 12 Days of Christmas Carol

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My “12 days of Christmas Sale” has started in my ETSY SHOP

****** For more details, please see my previous post  ******

Exploring the 12 Days of Christmas History and Life in the 18th Century  

By Christine Henrichs – originally published in Backyard Poultry Magazine (2013)

12DaysChristmasBIRDS-1Three French Hens

(I have kept hens for many years, which is why this piece caught my eye!)

Three French hens could be selected from the three old French breeds recognized by the APA for exhibition. Houdan, LaFleche and Crevecoeur were all in the original APA Standard published in 1874. They have long histories, as far as the 15th century in the case of the La Fleche, the 17th century for the others. All are large birds, topping out at 8 pounds for roosters and 7 pounds for hens. All are white egg layers.

Houdans have been known as Normandy fowl. They are a crested breed, recognized in mottled-black and solid-white varieties. Solid black, blue mottled and red mottled varieties have existed in the past and may be raised by fanciers yet.

In the U.S., Houdans were a popular dual-purpose production breed in the 19th and early 20th century. They have five toes like the Dorkings.

The La Fleche, which may be the oldest of the three, was selected and managed for egg production in Britain and North America. They take their name from the town of La Fleche, around which production was centered in the early 19th century. They probably resulted from crossing Polish, Crevecoeur and Spanish birds, which gave them their white earlobes.

Their unusual horned V-shaped comb is remarkable, in the past causing these birds to be called the Horned Fowl. Although now clean-headed, some breeders report occasional offspring with small crests or tassels. The French standard requires a crest.

Although recognized now only in black, they were bred in other colors in the past. In 1580, Prudens Choiselat wrote that blacks, reds, and fawns were the best. Blue and white strains have existed in the more recent past.

The Crevecoeur is sometimes compared to the Dorking, which has history on both English and French sides of the Channel. They also have V combs, although earlier in history they also had leaf combs. Currently recognized only in black plumage, white and blue ones were raised in the past.

The Crevecoeur was also used as a production fowl in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Wyandottes & Houdan Chickens

A Post for Christmas – The 12 day Carol!

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It is now too late to guarantee that any orders not already received, can be posted in time for Christmas, but my Etsy Shop will remain open and any orders will be posted as soon as the postal services resume over the holiday period.

So I thought I’d indulge in a Christmas subject – a post I found on Countryside Magazine

Exploring the 12 Days of Christmas History and Life in the 18th Century, and the meaning behind the birds in the Carol.

IT’S QUITE A LONG AND INTERESTING ARTICLE, SO I’M PUBLISHING PART 1 TODAY, AND WILL PUT UP THE REST IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS – SMILE

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By Christine Henrichs

Understanding the 12 Days of Christmas meaning adds something special to this favorite traditional carol. Its repeating verses make it fun to learn the list of traditional gifts: A partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, three French hens, four calling birds, five gold rings, six geese a-laying, seven swans a-swimming, eight maids a-milking, nine ladies dancing, 10 lords a-leaping, 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming, all reflect things that were familiar to life in 18th century England and France.

In a nutshell, here’s the 12 Days of Christmas meaning: In the Christian religion, the 12 Days following Christmas are the time it took for the three wise men to make their journey to the stable where the Jesus was born. January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany. Religious meanings have been imputed to each day’s gift, but there isn’t any historical documentation for that. To me, it’s interesting because it tells us about what life was like back then.

The 12 Days of Christmas meaning is interesting to explore through a historic lens. The song lists many wild and domestic birds that brightened life in those days of political upheaval and revolution. It was first printed in the 1780 children’s book, Mirth Without Mischief, but it was already old then. It may have originated in France, as three French variations exist. The First Day’s signature partridge was introduced into England from France in the late 1770s, shortly before the carol was formalized in print and published.

12 Days of Christmas

The Partridge in a Pear Tree

The partridge is a colorful choice for the first gift. Partridges include lots of different species with bright plumage on their rotund bodies. The gray or English partridge, a Eurasian native, was known in England then. It came to North America around the turn of the 20th century, directly from Eurasia. It has adapted well and is now fairly common in North America. They are hardy birds, able to survive cold winter conditions in the Midwest and Canada. They aren’t much for flying, with a stocky body and short, round wings. Most flights are low, at eye level and shorter than 100 yards. They are 12 to 13 inches long with a wingspan of 21 to 22 inches and weigh about one pound.

The hens may lay as many as 22 eggs in a clutch and hatches of 16 to 18 are common. They are not usually raised as domestic birds.

Among modern chickens, the name Partridge survives today as a recognized color variety in both large fowl and bantam Cochin, Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Chantecler, and Silkie breeds. It is similar to the Black Red pattern, the name more appropriately applied to game birds, according to Dr. J. Batty in his Poultry Colour Guide of 1977. Males and females differ, with males have rich red plumage on their heads, backs and wings, glinting with lustrous greenish black. Females are more subdued, mostly reddish bay with distinct penciling. The Standard of Perfection details the requirements of the Partridge color pattern description.

 

Do you like my new Call Ducks?

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As I mentioned in Hallo Again! I have a big garden here in rural West Wales, and one of the plans I’ve had for my new home is to keep poultry again, and I have made a start!

Just thought I’d show you my new call ducks – both drakes and for some reason I’ve named them George & Edward, although at the moment I can’t tell them apart.

They’ve only just been let outside in the last couple of days and its a joy to watch them wander around, getting excited about eating some of the grass for me, and even better, have been searching the ‘patio area’ for nice juicy slugs – and devouring them!

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Here’s proof – I caught this photo just as George (or Edward) had one in his beak – it disappeared down his throat just moments afterwards!

Call ducks are small, about the size of a mallard, and easy to keep in the back garden – they are usually kept as pets, and you can pick them up quite easily.

I bought them an old baby bath so they could go for a swim – I will hopefully have a pond soon – but oddly, it seems that they haven’t quite worked out what the bath is for yet – even tho’ I tossed some bits of bread in it.  I’m really looking forward to seeing them swim!

PS:

I’ve just remembered I wrote a more informative piece about call ducks for an A-Z blogging challenge I did in 2015 – If you’re interested please click HERE!

I also got a pair of very pretty bantams at the same time, but haven’t yet managed to get a decent photo of them.  Will have to give them a blog of their own when I do.

I”LL BE STARTING SELLING AGAIN IN THE NEXT WEEK OR SO –  

                   I’ll let you know what and where to find

          the listings when I put them up!