That is how many we now have and more than my husband, JP, ever wanted, but they are there and here to stay. Why 10.6?

10.6 chickens
December 2022

Well we’ve got 4 black ones, 6 new white ones and wee Harvey is now just over half the size of the girls, hence the 10.6!

Despite him growing fast he still peeps a lot when he thinks he is being bullied. Truth is that, yes he sometimes gets bullied, but he also has turned into a little bit of a cry baby and a mommy’s boy. When the other chickens are getting too close for his liking, he shrieks and I’ve even seen him whimpering when he had to walk through a group of chickens to get to the other side. Not much of a cockerel yet!

He is also a bit of a mommy’s boy, with me as his ‘mommy’; the other day I was sitting on a garden bench (admittedly it was on the chilly side, so I didn’t sit for long) and Harvey looked up at me and when I patted the seat next to me he jumped up and stood next to me on the bench. It was really super cute! When he found out there weren’t any titbits to be gained he quickly jumped off though. Despite him being a cockerel, he hasn’t let out a peep yet (apart from when he feels sorry for himself). Apparently young cockerels can start crowing as early as a few weeks old, but Harvey is now 13 weeks old and still silent, which is a good thing for us as it means he doesn’t wake us up early on a Sunday morning.

I like making up stories for my chickens and one night the following happened (I think):

So when they were finally allowed into the wider fields around our house, one of the older, black ones was having a bit too much fun and didn’t come back when everyone else had already gone to sleep. So, we closed the hatch, thinking that she may have found another bed to crash on. My husband went to check one last time when it was completely dark and found her all wet, bedraggled and with her mascara running down her face sitting on top of the nest boxes shouting at the others to open the door.

I guess she had a wild day out, got drunk on elderberries, forgot the time and lost her keys!

Now that was a proper hen party!

November so far has been really wet and the ground is getting waterlogged, but I guess it could have been worse, like what those poor people had in the north east.

The important thing to learn from the heavier downpours we are experiencing is, I think, that ground cover, (trees and shrubs), makes a huge difference in reducing flash floods as the water has somewhere to go. Winter is the perfect time to plant (fruit) trees as trees are dormant, which basically means that they are sleeping and transplanting won’t stress them. You can find out more about planting trees in the next the Circle of Good Life Section.

Since nothing much has been happening in our garden, I’ll end the blog (and the year) with a home experiment which is fun, simple and cheap and can even be made into a Christmas contest: ‘Who gets the longest stripe?’

As most of you know, I study for a degree in Natural Sciences at the Open University, and sometimes this study involves doing some home experiments, to simulate laboratory techniques. I once had to extract DNA from a kiwi using just household products!

However, the following home experiment is really easy and really fun to do on a rainy day (and it only takes 15 minutes!).

You will need:

White coffee filter paper

A pencil


Water based black pen

Permanent black marker pen

A glass

Water and/or a selection of alcohol based liquids like surgical spirit, vodka or methylated spirit

Step 1

Cut the coffee filter paper in 2 rectangular strips

Step 2

Draw a line using the pencil at the bottom of the paper about 1/2 inch (1cm) off the bottom

Step 3

On this line, make one dot with the water based pen and one dot with the permanent pen (you can mark the dots with W for water based and P for permanent using the pencil)

Step 4

Pour a little bit of (only) water in the glass, less than 1/2 inch

Step 5

Now hang your filter paper in the water, but so that the line is just above the water level

Step 6

Hold for a couple of minutes and see what happens

You should see the ink from the water based pen being drawn up the paper and separating into different colours (the permanent pen shouldn't do anything as it is meant to be permanent).

You can repeat the same steps, but replacing the water with one alcohol of choice. You do more tests with different alcohols, just don’t mix them.

This should separate the colours in the permanent pen as well; who knew black ink contained that many colours?!

Congratulations! You have now done a technique called Paper Chromatography used in laboratories all over the world to separate components in a mixture. I hope you liked doing it.


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