Friday, 21 May 2010

Life with our girls!

These are my wonderful girls! Gertrude (top) and Matilda (bottom).

For my boys birthday this year (both born in Feb), my very bestest friend, bought them a "rent a hen" from a local farm! Sam chicken (named by the boys) is our rent a hen for the next year. She is a beautiful black Road Rock with Brown flecks on the head and breast. Every 2 weeks we can visit Sam and collect 6 eggs, one of which is always white (not all eggs are Sam's!) We get to enjoy seeing Sam in such a lovely environment with lots of space and freedom, collect Fresh eggs and support a local business. This was the moment our love for chickens was sparked, The boys thought they were going to get to keep Sam and bring her home, this took a lot of explaining and soon the questions of having our own chickens were being asked.

I have very fond memories of looking after our chickens as a child, hatching eggs in the incubator, watching the chicks grow, mixing up their mash every day and cleaning out their bucket of water on a Sunday morning with the hose pipe. This sticks in my mind very strongly.

I must have been about 8 years old, the bucket was too heavy to carry down the garden so every day i topped it up with water from a watering can. Sunday was "clean out day" though. This meant pouring away the water, spraying it out with the hose and re-filling. But being so small meant i could only carry the bucket half full. i would pick it up and waddle down the drive with the bucket swaying between my knees, sloshing water over my legs and in to my socks! I would then have to repeat this with a watering can full of water to top it up, once i had placed it in the chicken run!
Another strong memory stays with me, collecting the eggs! Some of the chickens were friendly and some were not! i had a little yellow spade to push under the chicken in the nest box and leaver them up so i could get my little hand in and grab the fresh, warm eggs!

I wanted this for my boys! Fresh eggs, caring for a creature and getting a prize in the morning!

So after a couple of weeks of thinking, I ordered a coop from EBay and visited "rent a hen"! That's where we got our Beautiful girls from! They are about 18 weeks old and have such different personalities! Gertrude is the boss, she is the brave one who checks out new places to explore (like the house!) and new plants to pull up! she is very protective of her best friend Matilda, has chased the dog away for getting to close and told me off for picking her friend up!
Matilda is the delicate one, the follower, the baby of the pair! her eggs are still quite small and she relies on Gertrude to make sure everything is OK with their world!

We love them! we feed them, hold them, give them veg scraps and other treats and in return they give us wonderful eggs every day! we have already had 2 double yokers!! another childhood memory i was happy to share with my boys!

They are the ultimate recycling machines! Even their waste is useful! i very quickly bought a compost bin for their used bedding and droppings to go in! all this will be re used in my garden once it has composted down! And no doubt the girls will enjoy the extra juicy and succulent plants and veg that grows in their "home made soil!"

I really can't think of a better pet!!

Something New!

Well, after much thought i have decided to get Blogging. I'm sure someone out there will find my ramblings interesting.... or at least i hope they do!

I'm Pip and i live in a very small village in the Oxfordshire countryside. I share my little part of the world with my partner Lee, two children, Brendan (8) and Kenzie (4), one dog, two chickens and a hamster! I'm a stay at home mum and spend my days juggling the job of a mum with the job of a childminder. Thankfully the two are not too dissimilar!

Recently i have become very interested in finding a "better way of life"! I look back at my childhood and remember playing outside, creating a snail world in an old wheelbarrow, climbing trees, making dens, playing in the river, looking after chickens and collecting eggs....... this is not the life my boys have and its started to bother me. My partner is not an out doorsy type of person and his interests are computers, DVDs and gaming. The boys love their consoles and gadgets and i LOVE my laptop and have a self confessed addiction to Facebook! while i see a place for this in our modern lives i have been concerned that we are all becoming very detached from the natural world.
The pace of life seems rushed and a bit "false" there is no time for play and exploring and all our learning is handed to us through the magic box on the wall. It's all second hand learning.

So i have started to change things! We still have our gadgets and the TV and Laptop still plays a big part in our life but I'm trying to balance it. My boys are starting to experience life in a different way now.

Last year we planted some veg.... a couple of Broccoli plants. We didn't get to eat any of these as the plants became over run with cabbage white caterpillars. But suddenly my children and the children i look after were totally engrossed in these little green creatures that were stripping our Broccoli to shreds before our very eyes! We collected a few and popped them in a pot with some leaves. We watched these Caterpillar's eat and eat and then form chrysalises and eventually hatch in to cabbage white butterflies who flew away! We made a book about the life cycle, the children pretended to be Caterpillars and wrapped themselves up in blankets and wriggled around the floor, pretending to eat, sleep and eventually hatch in to beautiful Butterflies! we found stories to read and made many paintings! It all flowed so naturally and they learnt so much, as did i! That was probably the eye opener for me!

Last half term i spent several days in our local woods. I took blankets, water, food, pens and paper, buckets and spades and found a fantastic spot with lots of old branches and a huge crater in the ground that made an interesting place to spend some time. We made dens with the branches, used the blankets to sit on, pealed sticks, dug holes, collected pine cones. At no point did i hear "I'm bored!" or any sort of arguments or requests for telly..... and the inevitable argument over what channel they wanted to watch! There imaginations flourished and only when we ran out of water did we return home, with a real feeling of peace and happiness! I shared this experience with a very good friend and she joined us on one of our trips to the woods. I think she will now be joining us every holiday!! The thing that really stood out was the fact that i didn't say "NO" once! The boys could run, shout, jump, throw....... at home in a small 2 bed house, these things can soon grate on you and i find I'm often using "NO" and "DON'T" a lot more than i would like! instead i seemed to be using much more positive vocab and praising them came naturally.

A couple of weeks ago i decided to ditch the plans for the beautiful decked garden with pot plants and "Features", which i had spent months planning in my head, and instead decided on the much more "natural" approach! We now have 2 chickens as a result! Matilda and Gertrude (who you will hear a lot more about I'm sure) and started to plant up seeds with the boys for a veg plot! Both of these choices have been a huge hit and the new argument in the morning is not so much about "what TV channel to watch" but "who is going to get the eggs today!!" They understand where eggs come from and get very excited about collecting a fresh warm egg and eating it 10 minutes later! Their Breakfasts are now more filling and sustaining and it's not a battle to get them to eat before school!

So this is my"Worms Eye-View" of life in our house (and garden).......... If it inspires just one person out there to try a bit of nature........ well I'll be a very happy chicken!


Related Posts with Thumbnails