Denise: Over the past four to six weeks we’ve made our first forays into selling eggs for hatching on ebay auctions. Generally offered as half-dozens, sent in specially moulded polystyrene ‘boxes’ – so-called polyboxes. From a starting price of £3.99, Welsumers have reached as much about £5.50; Buff Orpingtons do better at up to £13.50 (both plus p+p). The season for such sales is very short, as laying in numbers only really starts in mid January, and by now (late February) even the laziest ill-fed flocks are starting to feel a spring in their step, and the market becomes flooded. Even so a sale at the starting price of £3.99 is still twice what we get for ordinary egg sales, though for quite a bit more work. The same works for the geese: these eggs are sold in 4s, and our Embdens have reached £20 for four (plus p+p). But again the window of opportunity between demand and supply is very limited both in numbers and time. The extra income (perhaps £150 to £200) is very welcome – especially as feed has gone up by more than 35% in six months!
Jonathan: After the great hurricane of January 2005, we rebuilt our greenhouses and then built our potting shed and workshop/store; though by then money was getting low and we didn’t install electricity. It would have been difficult and expensive – certainly if we put the cables underground. I do also recall some ideal or our outdoors work being in tune with nature – putting away our tools and tidying up as the sky darkened; and the disturbance of the natural dark by vulgar electricity. What romantic tosh!!! Anyway, after several days toil, we now have electricty. Alas, due to lack of money and time, it is only lighting, but now we have been able to move the young chicks from their cardboard box in the dining room into a cage in the shed – with the infra-red lamp over them. For power (eg for tools in the woodstore or workshop), I shall soon install an outdoors electrical socket at both front and back of house so we don’t have to have a house door open – letting heat escape -when we use an extension lead. When eventually we get round to renovating our own house, we can make a better job of all this: but for now, it’s safe and it’s progress – albeit budget style! [Photo – Welsumer and Buff Orpington chicks in their new cage.]
Jonathan: This is the time of year for culling livestock. In the past the meat would have been salted, dried, smoked … All a lot of work – so thank heavens for freezers! Today I’ve been plucking and jointing cockerels, some younger Buff Orpingtons we raised for meat, and the first of three Welsumer cockerels from the croft that must make way for some youngsters.