Spinner Gal made some comments the other day that I thought merited addressing in their own post in case other people are having the same thoughts...
Firstly, about the colour of the chickens: Different varieties of chickens have different coloured skin. Light Sussex, which is the breed of chickens that we keep, were bred to have white skin because that's what consumers in London in the 1800s wanted. The colour of the skin has no bearing on on what the bird tastes like. All the flesh underneath is the same colour.
Back when we lived in London and shopped at Tesco, we used to buy the corn-fed chickens sometimes. You know what? We feed our chickens here corn, and they still have white skin. I think that the yellow skin on the corn-fed chickens is just because they are a different variety of chicken that has yellow skin.
So to get back to Spinner Gal's first comment, she wrote, "It is amazing that [the chickens] turn so many different colours." They haven't changed colour at all -- that's just the way they were born... Bridget has got loads of different varieties of chickens -- and the cockerels she gave me are all different sorts...
The one new thing that I did learn though, having never eaten a black-skinned chicken before -- is that the bones are black too!
The other thing Spinner Gal asked about was Big Boy -- graphic picture to follow, so if you are squeamish, don't look. Bridget (the genius) was up here the other day to drop off a mineral lick for the ewes that I failed to take home (because my car was too full of chickens!) and I asked her to have a look at Big Boy. She said he definitely doesn't have scaly leg or bumble foot -- but then she turned him over and found this:
(Don't worry about the blue, that is just the colouring in the antibiotic spray...) Well, we had been handing Big Boy quite a bit recently in our attempts to cure his non-existent scaly leg, but somehow I never noticed this -- well, basically, I never turned him over... Bridget says that he most likely had some sort of growth or something on his breast and then it got irritated and perhaps burst and who knows what... So he is living in the barn at the moment and I am keeping it clean with Dettol and we are hoping he gets better. It does seem slightly better today than it did when we first spotted it on Saturday but it is a bit hard to tell really.
I am just amazed that he can live with a big hole in his chest like this! Really, if it were me, I would be dead... So the assumption now is that the reason he's been hobbling about is because he's generally unwell, and it's got nothing to do with his legs or feet... So thank you to everybody for your concern -- hopefully we have found the problem now and he will get better. He is eating well, so that's a start.
Lots of animal related happenings and news in the last 48 hours or so...
This is next door's cat -- in fact, they have three identical black kittens -- and this one actually came into our porch on Thursday night!
The rat traps that we have had out for some time now have finally come to fruition - Friday morning there was a rat. It is now dead. Now we have to wait and see if there are more...
Bridget the ever helpful was getting rid of some spare cockerels and she asked if we wanted them for the pot. So Friday morning I went round with my friend Tony from London who was visiting and we killed and plucked 10 bantam cockerels -- they will be like poussin because they are so small!
The thing that amazes me is how different each one is -- look at all the different flesh colours:
And this is the ever lovely Special K -- grooming my hair for me!
In not so good news, overall Big Boy does not seem to be improving, so we decided the other day that if there wasn't a marked improvement by this weekend, we were going to kill him. Of course, this morning, he comes running straight out of the house, looking rather well... So now I don't know what to do...
Started off the new year in the greenhouse, helping things grow...
The rose that I dug up from around the old shed is in bud, both the big root bit, and the little twiggy cuttings:
From all the rosemary that I sowed over the summer, this is all that's still alive. Have re-potted it with a liberal addition of sand.
It was also time to transplant the little cauliflowers I started into slightly bigger pots. These will go outside in the early spring and hopefully be ready to eat in early summer.
I also transplanted/thinned the lettuces -- only one of the two varieties of lettuce has sprouted. The May King never did anything at all, so I am going to try to germinate some of those seeds on a paper towel to see if there is maybe something wrong with them.
The chickens actually came down to the gate today for the first time in over a month -- it is so nice to see them down there!
AND, they are STILL laying! This is the first egg of the New Year. Last year, we didn't have any eggs at all for about two months, but now we are getting about five a week.
On a completely different note, I want to talk about the Post Office now:
There has been a lot in the news recently about rural post offices shutting and there was an article in the Telegraph about things you can do to support your local post office. I try to use the post office in Cwmdu as much as I can for sending parcels and whatnot, but I never realised how good the post office savings accounts are! We have moved our money from where it was with ING into the post office as, believe it or not, the post office is offering a significantly better interest rate. Check it out -- and support your local post office!