Saturday, 26 April 2014

New Arrivals

I always wanted our garden to have animals.
If I had the time, the energy and the space I would have loved a small holding.
In reality we are lucky enough to have enough space for a few small animals.

When we moved in to our home 3 years ago, one of our first purchases were chickens, a variety of large and bantam breeds.
We have slowly increased the numbers over that time so that we currently have 6 large hens and 7 bantams, 13 in total.
It was not ideal to have them in a single run therefore since February, DH (with help from his parents) has been building a new segregated animal enclosure closer to the house.
It was finally finished last weekend and looks amazing!

Splitting the chickens into large breeds and bantams means we can let the large hens out to free range in the garden without worrying about the cats stalking the tiny bantams.
Moving the run also means it is easier for the children to interact with the birds as they are now more integrated into garden rather than being hidden away at the back.
It would be lovely to let all the birds free range all the time however with predators like foxes seen frequently in the area during daylight hours, it would not be in the birds best interest to allow them out when we are not in the garden to watch over them.

This new enclosure took a lot of planning.  There is an "air lock" at the entrance to try and prevent any unwelcome escapees (or cats getting in), and the outside wire is dug into the soil to prevent any predators digging there way in.  By adding a solid roof and more solid floor we hope to prevent the mud bath that the previous chicken run turned into after a very wet winter!

The enclosure is divided into 5 segregated areas.
As well as spaces for the large chickens and bantams, there is also an area each for our rabbit and guinea pigs.  This gives them both far more space to run around in than previously, plus space for the children to sit in with them... our very own petting zoo!
Finally there was a space at the end for one additional set of animals yet to arrive... ducks!

Today was our local poultry auction.
We have been a number of times before buying chickens and it is an experience I relish.
There are always a good mixture of people in attendance: farmers, breeders, families with children.
This time we were the latter.... the first time we had been with children in tow.
Not feeling it was suitable for a buggy, C was with DH in our MacPac Possum, and baby B was with me in our Toddler Patapum.
I think we got a few amusing glances when we trudged into the auction each with a baby on our backs.

Before the auction began we walked around the enclosures of animals.
As well as ducks and chickens, there were rabbits, guinea pigs, quails, ferrets, even an emu!
C really enjoyed looking at all the animals, especially a goose with her goslings.

Bidding, as always, was my responsibility.
The auctioneer, in true livestock auction style, is almost impossible to understand when he gets into full flow and DH finds it impossible to follow.
I, on the other hand, seem to be able to just about follow well enough to work out what I'm bidding on and which £10 bracket the bidding has reached, if not the exact figure.
I find the experience quite empowering.

Browsing the auction catalogue before we went, there was one duck we specifically wanted and then a number we felt could be a suitable companion for her.  Ideally we only wanted to come away with 2 ducks at this stage.

After a few nerve wracking lots where I lost out, followed by baby B threatening to have a meltdown at a crucial moment in the proceedings, we finally came away with 2 ducks.  The one we wanted plus one other.
A job well done!

I have deliberately kept things quiet for the new arrivals today to allow them to settle in however I hope that by allowing C to come and feed them will me each morning, they will soon become accustomed to us all.

I'm linking this post up with Coombe Mill #CountryKids.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


  1. WOW - what lucky animals! They have a lovely home. #countrykids

  2. That's an amazing run! I've seen many through bloggers in the past year or so, but that is the 5* of chicken runs!

    Nipping over from Country Kids.

  3. A nice home. So big so they can move around. I grew up with little animals like this before and I miss having them =) #countrykids

  4. That is a very impressive new home for them all and I'm sure they will be living in the lap of luxury there! Like you my husband Nick enjoys the auctions here at Wadebridge and will always come away with some time of livestock. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  5. What a brilliant home for them! Congrats on your chickens :) x