During a great few days of holiday over Christmas, in between the bursts of festivities, James cracked on with the Henmobile – the new home for our main laying flock, who currently reside at the end of the garden. Since losing three of our birds to an illness called Marek’s due to, what we think must be, diseased ground (we’ve kept chickens on the same patch for eight years and the mild autumn meant bugs weren’t killed off but incubated), we decided that a moveable coop was the answer. And it’s coming along nicely. First, James made a chassis having ordered four wheels and bought the right lengths and widths of wood to make a frame for the base. Then we put together the various panels of an ordinary pent-style shed he’d pre-painted in a pleasing mix of sage green and cream. It went up on Saturday surprisingly quickly and now all that’s required is a felt roof, a nesting box, perches and a shelter where the hens can feed and keep dry, which we’ll produce over the next couple of weekends. We’ve rather enjoyed simply wheeling it around the garden and when he had completed the chassis, James climbed aboard and used it like a skateboard to glide past the kitchen window and amuse me. At first we thought we could simply roll it up and down along the same lines of the garden, but by applying a little pressure either side of the rear when pushing we can place it anywhere we like. It’s going to be rather good fun – I only hope that Jeffrey, the Araucana cockerel, and the girls take to it as much as we have.
Another task for this weekend is to create a separate area in the pig run, where we can feed Porky Pig, our largest Oxford Sandy & Black, a smaller ration than his considerably slimmer counterparts. We decided against putting him in the old-fashioned pigsty by the house in case he became distressed at being parted from his brothers, so hit on the idea of luring him into a fenced-off section of the plot during mealtimes, which should do the trick of evening out our porkers before they go to the abattoir at the end of this month. So, plenty of smallholding activity to be getting on with! Anyone planning new accommodation, livestock or anything else for 2015? In the meantime, a Happy New Henkeeping Year all.