In the Kitchen: Food ‘eggs-change’

I was ever so excited by our first food ‘eggs-change’. My neighbour gave us a bag of gooseberries in exchange for some eggs.

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I have wanted to make jam for so long and have never got around to it so I decided to give it ago, at 10pm last night!

I remember my Nan making gooseberry jam when I was little. I searched for recipes and the majority said 1kg of fruit and 1kg of preserving sugar. Well as I had 300g of fruit I used 300g of preserving sugar and hoped for the best.

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There wasn’t alot but I guessed it would do enough for a couple of jars. I had no thermometer so guessing the setting point was all good fun!

Luckily it worked and I had enough for 2 and a half jars so I can give on away and have plenty for us still.

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Am now looking into getting myself a bit more equipment as jam making seens quite easy with yummy results so I want to do more!

Has anyone tried some easy Jam making?
Can anyone recommend what equipment is worth buying and what I could do without?

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News from the Coop: A place for everything….

Today has been a tidy up day as far as the coop and run go. When we got the hens it was constant solid rain so we did the basics and made it fox proof and functional!

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The food and water were hung up with wire tied to the roof which was a bit if a pain, as taking it down at night took forever….I decided chain and clips would be best, but not cheap at £3 a metre as I needed 4 metres….plus clips….then in our local discount warehouse I got 2 hanging basket chains at a bargain 80p each…and they had the hooks on…I just unclipped them so they were a long chain. I had enough to do the food container, the water container and make a chain to clip the inner coop door open.

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The ground was getting boggy and muddy so we popped over to a lovely little local nursery on the edge of the forest and got a back of bark and layed it on the floor of the big run. The girls love it! They have been entertained all afternoon and it looks so much tidier out there.

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I still have plans to make it prettier on the outside but that will have to wait for another day.

Am now off to shred some paper as I have been doing a bit of research and apparently it is ok to use in the laying boxes as long as its changed every day…we are changing the sraw every day at the moment so it won’t make a difference to us and a good way to recycle our paper.

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Ooh! Those three eggs we got yesterday? Well two of them were double yokers!!!

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News from the Coop: Chickens, a good place to start

I have wanted chickens for a long time, but it must be said the man of the house has taken a fair bit of convincing!

Last year and the year before we had a family of foxes living in next doors garden which was ever so overgrown, however at the end of last year the neighbour had it cleared and landscaped and the foxes seemed to move elsewhere. So this year I won my battle (although once I visited some chickens and took some photos it was quite easy!) 😀

We already had a large run and a dog kennel which we used to keep our rabbit Honey in until she passed away (so it was proven to be fox proof!) originally we were going to adapt the kennel and turn it into a coop, but in the end we opted for a new coop with the pan to attach the run to it (I do still wish we had adapted the kennel and am trying to plan a way to do it).

Here is our set up so far – taken in the rain whilst it was still being double meshed!)

It now has slabs and solar lights around the edges and I plan to pretty it up at bit more with some mini picket fencing around the edge and a few pretty plants growing over the top. Ideally I would like to add the kennel to the side of the run as a shelter but thats going to take some convincing so for now it will stay like this!

We bought the hen’s from Staffordshire Chickens, a small family supplier of chickens who were so helpful! Richard and Gail looked after all their birds so well and answered all our questions. I have already recommended them to a few people who have seen our girls and wanted some of their own!

Now time to meet the ladies:

Top left we have Scramble, who is a Staffordshire Amber Link, she belongs to J and is the brave one who likes cuddles! She was the first to get used to us and is such a character. Always the first one to come up for treats and a bit of fuss and is a very good chicken and is always first up to bed at night.

Top right we have Henrietta, a Staffordshire Calder Ranger. This one is my Hen and she is lovely, a bit bossy, but friendly and probably the mother hen of all of them.

Bottom left is Megg, a Staffordshire Rhode Rock. Megg belongs to A, she is bossy and loves her food and is always last to bed- a perfect match for A! The colours on Megg are stunning, definitely our prettiest hen.

Bottom right is George, she is Staffordshire Blue Ranger, and is named after a footballer apparently, but I have no idea how this makes a chicken name! George seems to be at the bottom of the pecking order with the ladies and seems to get picked on a bit by Megg. We give her lots of fuss and slowly she getting a bit braver! She seems happy though and has lovely coloured fluffy bluey grey feather.

The hens were all 18 weeks old when we collected them and I was expecting to wait a good few week for eggs however we got our first two yesterday (just 8 days after collecting them) and then another two this morning! I think it is Henrietta and Megg who are laying, but George keeps following them in and sitting in the laying box so maybe she will lay for us soon!

So far we are all very pleased with our decision to have chickens they are so funny to watch and easy to care for and we have had a lot of requests for eggs already!