Posted by: hencorner | June 14, 2014

The Perfect Combination…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been combining things here at Hen Corner; Chickens, Bees and Ingredients. Has it been a recipe for success or failure? Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…
We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

Combining ColoniesAll together now…

Whilst it was lovely to have enjoyed a mild winter and early spring, it’s been jolly confusing for the bees here at Hen Corner. Usually, the bees are pretty quiet after their winter lock in; when it’s too cold and wet for them to fly and forage (note: we don’t actually lock them in, they choose to stay close to their queen, huddled for warmth.). Traditionally, we bee keepers would start inspecting our colonies, opening the hives and checking what they are up to, from the beginning of May.  This year, though, as it was so warm back in April, the bees were behaving as if it were June! We had a large swarm (the natural reproduction of honey bee colonies), settling very high up on a 20ft Leylandii tree, and needed extra help from more experienced bee keepers in retrieving it. As some winters have been bad for bees in the past, I’d kept an extra colony as an insurance against potential losses. However, all three of my colonies thrived and so I made plans to give away the spare. After the swarm in April, we split a strong colony in two giving them extra space and reducing the chances of swarming, I also caught a cheeky caste swarm, so I started with three, gave away two and ended up with four colonies of bees! So, since April, as they’ve been busy rearing new queens and setting up home, not making honey for me, I’ve been planning how I could get them all back where I want them, focussed on the goal of gathering the golden stuff. Combining two colonies of bees is not that straight forward as they are very loyal and territorial. First, we need to locate both queens, decide who will rein, then dispatch the other. Placing one colony on top of the other (see the tower three blocks high) with a sheet of newspaper in between, allows them to slowly sense each other, nibbling through the paper and allowing the top colony access out of the hive through the bottom colony. Once all the paper has been cleared by the bees, the queen’s pheromone can be spread throughout both colonies uniting them as one. I’m pleased to say that the combining has worked well with these two, I’ll be combining two others this week.

Best BuddiesBest Buddies…

Well if bees are hard to combine, chickens can be rather feisty when holding their ground against the opposition. Our last post told the story of Madge, our newly adopted hen. Whilst she came with her own Eglu chicken house, we were keen that she made some new friends and joined in with the other big girls. However, if we had put her straight in with the other nine, they could have been very nasty, I’m sure you’ve heard of the pecking order, and done some serious damage to her. We needed to find her an ally. I thought our Copper Black, Duracell, would be hospitable, but couldn’t just pop her into Madge’s home as she would defend it with beak and claw. So, we developed a plan that meant change for all. The six bantams moved out of the Eglu Go and into the Eglu Classic (a new home for them). Duracell came out of the Eglu Cube and moved into the Eglu Go with Madge, as it was a new home for both of them, neither had ‘ownership’ so just got on with it. As you can see, they have now become best buddies and will soon be ready to defend each other as they both move into the Eglu Cube with the other eight, leaving the Eglu Go ready for Butternut to hatch chicks in again!

’tis the Season…

We were very lucky, recently, to have been given a box set of seasonings from Saison! We tried combining each blend with some of our favourite recipes, we published our results on Twitter and Facebook and our favourites can be found here.

 

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

ITB beesComing up at the Corner…

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the summer we will have three types of courses available: Introduction to Bee Keeping, a practical hands on opportunity for small groups to inspect our honey making pollinators, Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.

Bees at the Bottom of the GardenBook of the Blog Post:

Bees at the Bottom of the Garden

By Alan Campion

This book, whilst first published in 1984 depicting beekeepers with beards and pipes, was highly recommended when I was studying my Basic Assessment a few years ago. It’s a quality book backed up with a wealth of experience and clearly describes how to unite two colonies as I have just done recently.

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

Other News:
  • Every bee is doing all that it should, at last
  • We have nearly finished replacing the raised beds with recycled plastic timber, I’m sure there will be photos soon
  • Our strawberries and raspberries are ripe and ready to go!
Jobs for next week:
  • Combine another two colonies of bees, leaving the wooden National hive as a bait for swarms
  • Construct cages around our almonds and peaches to protect them from the squirrels
  • Write a couple of articles for some local and national magazines

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | May 30, 2014

A Tale of Two Classics…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine
No, I haven’t been reading well known literacy masterpieces; we have been thrilled this week to receive, not one but two, Eglu Classics here at Hen Corner. Each has a tale, a love story, and we’ll tell it here! Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…
We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

Eglu Classic Breakfast SetA Birthday Breakfast…

I first fell in love with the Omlet Eglu Classic chicken coop when I saw it in a design magazine back in 2006 and, after much persuading, was delighted to have been given a green Eglu complete with two hens, Pepsi and Shirley for my birthday that June. Who would have known where that first step of the journey would have led us and indeed Omlet who are celebrating their 10th birthday this year. We love the guys at Omlet and have much admiration for the enthusiasm, creativity and energy that each of the founders still bring to this exciting business. It all began when four students of the Royal College of Art, here in London, decided to unite their passions for fantastic design. The Eglu Classic began it’s life as a final design piece in a college workshop and now, as well as helping thousands of chicken keepers protect their precious hens from foxes, holds a place of honour at the Victoria and Albert  museum in London’s South Kensington. To celebrate this special birthday Omlet have commissioned this groovy breakfast set that is a 1/8th scale replica of the original product that launched their business. Mmm, let me just re-read that 2011 feature in the Wall Street Journal all about the Classic Eglu and our courses at Hen Corner while I crack into this tasty egg…

DSCF4507Returning to the flock…

Chicken keeping is addictive. Within a year of keeping those first two hens, we moved house, just 13 doors down the same street – but to a bigger house with the corner plot garden. My husband, Andy, was now convinced that the chooks were cool and was happy for us to upgrade to the Eglu Cube, which arrived at the new house before we did on the day we completed! Our friends, Ben and Jo, who had previously looked after our girls whilst we were on holiday in Australia became smitten with the feathered friends and decided to buy our old Eglu Classic and a couple of hens from Charlotte’s Chickens allowing them to begin their own adventure. A few year’s later, we were planning to hatch some chicks under Broody Butternut, so bought the newer Eglu Go to use as a maternity ward…

We tell our story at each of our courses and it always begins with that first Classic Coop.

So when Ben and Jo told us that they were moving to Australia for a while, we were more than happy to adopt their hen, Madge, and bring our original Eglu back to the flock. So we now have all three designs here, and a Beehaus up the other end of the garden, I told you it was a love story!

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

UH peopleComing up at the Corner…

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the summer we will have three types of courses available: Introduction to Bee Keeping, a practical hands on opportunity for small groups to inspect our honey making pollinators, Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.

Keeping ChickensBook of the Blog Post:

Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide to Enjoying and Getting the Best from Chickens
By Jeremy Hobson, Celia Lewis

I was given this book for my birthday back in June 2006 along with my first Eglu, it is beautifully illustrated and will inspire chicken keepers and animal lovers alike.

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

Other News:
Jobs for next week:
  • Try and merge my four colonies of bees into two, I need to find the strongest queens and ‘retire’ the weaker ones…
  • Finish replacing the raised beds in the Kitchen Garden, we are more than halfway there
  • Watch for Butternut’s next broody cycle, maybe we’ll hatch some more chicks this summer

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | May 10, 2014

In England’s Green and Pleasant Land

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine
In recent weeks we’ve celebrated our four year blog birthday, delighted in a Devon holiday, and were honoured to speak at a local Women’s Institute  meeting. Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…
We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

SYFE - New FamilyMeet the family…

When deciding where to go for a spring break with the family, I contacted Gillian @FarmerDixon from South Yeo Farm East, who has been supplying us with fertile eggs to hatch under Broody Butternut and delicious rare breed lamb butchered and boxed for the freezer for several years now. How wonderful to meet the farmers and animals that we’ve known from a distance for so long. Gillian kindly recommended the holiday cottages on her neighbours small holding so we had a wonderful week at Eastcott Vineyard, complete with wine tour and tasting, and took the opportunity to explore some of the West Country’s beautiful scenery along with visits to local National Trust properties and The Eden Project.

Gillian and her husband, Ian, have been keeping rare breed sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens for many years now; the lambs pictured here with their mum are a Welsh breed Balwen. It’s a busy job, they’ve been lambing since January and are now calving, overseeing and often assisting with every single new birth. Fortunately, between a flock of fluffy Pekin hens and a large incubator, the baby poultry don’t need much help entering the world; whilst we were there, we met a some day old goslings who had been hatched by a bantam (small breed) hen. Already, they were quite large and it wouldn’t be long before they outgrow their petite mummy! If you’ve ever fancied hatching eggs and rearing chickens, do check out the breeds that Gillian stocks, and don’t forget her delicious meat that can be posted anywhere in the UK, full details are on their website.

ECV - Sparkling wines champagne methodCheers!

When we usually arrive at a holiday cottage, there’s often a pint of milk in the fridge and some tea bags in the cupboard, but when we arrived at Cabernet Cottage, there was a welcome bottle of wine in the fridge, of course! Hilary & Richard Waller have 6 acres planted with 6,000 vines of 6 varieties of grapes; three English varieties: Rondo, Seyval Blanc, Solaris that like living in the UK and give a good crop most years, then the French Champagne Trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They are the hardest to grow here, especially Chardonnay, which likes a nice warm summer to flower; though harvests are less reliable, they do make very good white wines, especially their sparkling varieties. It was great to join in on the first Grand Vine to Wine Tour of 2014, and whilst learning about growing grapes and producing wine, the highlight was tasting their award-winning wines; 3 sparkling (dry, medium & rose) and 2 still wines (white & rose). My favourite was the Brut Zero Sparkling, which rivals a good champagne, and might indulge in a case to enjoy throughout the summer!

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

UH peopleComing up at the Corner…

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the summer we will have three types of courses available: Introduction to Bee Keeping, a practical hands on opportunity for small groups to inspect our honey making pollinators, Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.

The LoraxBook of the Blog Post:

The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The wisdom of Dr Seuss opens our eyes to real environmental issues in his unique captivating rhyme…

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

 

Other News:

  • Sadly, Ascot our beautiful Silver Laced Wyandotte died before Easter, but we have since introduced two new big chickens to the Eglu Cube and two fluffy Lavender Pekins to the bantams in the Eglu Go
  • I’ve always admired the Women’s Institute and took Butternut, our Buff Orpington, with me to speak to our local group; she was happy walking around the front of the hall whilst we joined in with the anthem, Jerusalem!
  • With the mild weather, the bees have got ahead of themselves and have been set on multiplying. We had a swarm in April and are monitoring them carefully to maximise honey production

Jobs for next week:

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

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