• Maggi

And so crofting starts .......................

I am not and have never been a farmer of any size or description. I am a country girl and have been around animals, especially horses for much of my life. Alastair likewise is not a farmer. Actually he grew up in the centre of Aberdeen and set off at the earliest opportunity to follow his desire to be a soldier by joining the Parachute Regiment. Clearly neither of us were obvious farming/crofting material!!! However............


So the easiest thing to start with is chooks. We got our first six girls in June. Lovely brown girls who were very anxious at the beginning. But we spent time with them, hand feeding and stroking them and so now we are all best buddies and they follow us around making both Ally and I the proverbial mother hens!! All chooks on the island and indeed all the Hebridean Islands are generally breed by Donald the Hen!!! Donald is located here on the island and keeps all of the Hebrides and Highlands supplied with lovely egg laying chooks that he breeds himself and indeed hen houses if needed. Donald is Skye born and bred, an older person who retired from manual employment with Highland Council many years ago. Donald had been breeding chooks since he was a boy and increased his breeding empire shortly after retirement. Clearly there is money in chicken s*** as oor Donald (who is a delightful man) has the loveliest home and the biggest newest BMW I have ever seen............... :-) So our first 6 girls settled in, gradually learned to love their new home and started to gift us with 6 eggs daily. For those of you who, like us, know/knew little about chooks, it takes them time to settle and relax enough to start laying when they are moved to a new home. Donald warned us that it would be 6 weeks before we started to be gifted eggs. After 4 weeks we started to get the odd one or two eggs. As novices we were definitely unconcerned but then after a bit longer when we were getting no more eggs we started to wonder what we were doing wrong. That was until Ally followed one of the girls outside to an area where the grass was long and wild. There he found a nest of 17 eggs!!! The girls had been laying outside all in one grassy nest ........ They have now got the hang of laying in the nesting boxes in their chook shed home! 6 eggs a day and that is not enough as we sell them at the gate of An Croit as well as feeding ourselves. So we bought 6 more chooks.............. and as fresh eggs sold at the croft gate are so sought after we may well yet get more chooks. I love chickens. They are so silly, so friendly and just generally lovely. And each of the darlings gift to us each day an egg. All they ask in return is a warm and clean home, food, fresh water, safety from predators (mink are lethal up here), strokes and cuddles. Our chooks are completely free range and have a very happy home. The new ones are black with lovely russet brown neck collars, still at the stage of getting to know us and growing their confidence. No eggs yet but they have finally started to venture out of their hen house into the outside world. The are in a different enclosure at the moment. Apparently they need to be introduced to the brown chooks carefully with a chicken wire fence between them until they all get to know one another, then the new girls can take up home with the more established girls and all will get along fine. Well that's the theory anyway...............


So our crofting life has begun, eggs sold at the croft gate.......... already had a lovely message from a 'customer' who said how lovely are our eggs. That is because they come from very happy and cared for chooks.................. :-)


Next time...... our small efforts to fight climate change!





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