Welcome back to Hen Corner!
What a week! We’re excited about hatching new chicks, we’re worried about our bees and we’re expecting another schools visit but let’s begin with another film in our series ‘Ten Top Tips for Keeping Chicks’:
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Probably a bit later than in previous years, but at last Butternut and Ascot have gone broody and this year, however, we are ready for them!
Within hours we had received a well-packaged polystyrene box that contained six eggs. We were keen to get some more Orpingtons (like Butternut and Bunty) as they have the loveliest nature and are so soft and cuddly. My husband, Andy, wanted some iridescent black ones (that’s the first two), however, I wanted something more unusual and discovered Silver Spangled Appenzellers (next two)… The final two eggs are a very appropriate choice for this year, Jubilee Orpingtons, a breed first developed especially to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria!
Above you can see Ascot (Silver Laced Wyandotte) watching the eggs and ready to sit on them. Unfortunately, we tried two hens together on six eggs, but guess there was a bit of snatching as one of the eggs has broken and another disappeared! Ascot has now been removed and experienced Butternut is meticulously keeping them warm, rotated and at the correct humidity….
Our countdown to hatching can be seen in the column, right, and we’d like to open a poll to guess what results we’ll get from our last two eggs, please do vote, below!
We’ve been quite concerned about the bees recently. After a successful Shook Swarm back in March, the bees began to furnish the inside of the new hive by creating thousands of wax cells for both storing honey as a food supply for the whole colony and as individual cubicles for the queen bee to lay her eggs in. It takes a lot of food and energy for bees to produce wax; 800g of honey is needed to produce 100g of wax. Unfortunately, with all the wet weather that we’ve had for the last six weeks, the bees have really struggled to fly and search for food. I followed the advice of the Nation Bee Unit and have been feeding them sugar syrup so that there is a constant supply of food within the hive. Earlier this week, I discovered about 100 very young bees on the ground in front of the hive, I think they had attempted to venture out in search of food prematurely and just dropped into the dust unable to fly. A few made it to nearby posts, as above, but couldn’t find food or the way home. Today’s quick check inside was a bit more positive and the busy bees are starting to store some food supplies for the whole gang, and if the weather changes for the better, they might eventually make some honey for us!
Book of the Blog Post: River Cottage Veg Patch…
We’ve got seedlings galore ready to go into the raised beds though I’m a bit worried about all the slugs that are slipping around… I’ve been busy weeding and preparing the soil ready to receive the baby plants and will probably use old jam jars as individual cloches to help them as they get established. The best book to have to hand is Veg Patch: River Cottage Handbook No.4 it’s an A-Z of crops that like our climate complete with planting plans and recipes. It’s available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!
- We braved the rain and helped staff the Compost Stall at Syon Garden Centre
- Many of the fruit trees have been pollinated and have baby fruit growing: pears, plums, almonds and figs
- We’ve sown a selection of both dwarf and climbing beans
Jobs for next week:
- Keep a close eye on Butternut and those eggs
- Roll up our sleeves for more Compost Chat at the Chiswick House May Fayre
- Get ready for Tuesday’s school visit and Wednesday’s course Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London
Have a good week yourself…
Join us on the Journey!