Omlet Newsletter July 14th 2009
With kids breaking up from school, the holiday season starting and and the weather deciding to be scorching one minute and stormy the next, it is important to remember the needs of your chickens over the next few weeks. Don’t panic, help is at hand from Barbara this month, with lots of good tips for keeping hens happy during summer. See how chickens stay cool in Sri Lanka and learn why we are very proud of two of Omlet’s very own hens. Plus there’s a brand new competition to keep you hentertained and the results of the always popular caption competition. Enjoy!
Chickens at the Theatre
What are you going to be doing this summer? This year more and more of us will be choosing to stay in Britain instead of heading off for a week in the sun, to try and save some money, and although it is great to get away from it all, there’s a lot of fun to be had that’s closer to home. If you’re looking for a few hours of entertainment that doesn’t cost the world, a trip to the theatre is always a good choice.
Jerusalem is an entertaining and funny play that anyone with an interest in green living will love. Starring Mackenzie Crook, who you may recognise from the tv comedy The Office, this is bound to make you laugh. The play is based around the main character Johnny Byron, who’s having a difficult time living the rural life – the council want him evicted, his children want him to take them to the fair and another fella wants to give him a kicking. Life’s tough. But the real stars of the show, in our eyes at least, are the two Omlet chickens. They are brilliant actresses during the performance and they live in an eglu at the theatre during their time off. We are very proud!
Jerusalem is showing at the Royal Court Theatre, London, until August 15th, so you’ve got plenty of time to spot our famous hens and maybe grab an autograph. Click here to read the details and book your tickets.
A Different Kind of Chicken House
A friend of Omlet recently took a trip to Sri Lanka and saw some amazing sights. Amongst the sandy beaches, waterfalls and coconut plantations Jess spotted something she knew we would be interested in: a chicken house…and what a chicken house it is. Made from brick , with windows and a full size door it looks plenty big enough for a flock of hens, and strong enough to survive those monsoons. It looks rather different to the eglu, but it’s great to see how other cultures keep chickens.
If you’ve seen any hens or houses on your travels we’d love to see your photos. Send to Stephanie@omlet.co.uk.
The Line Up Continues
The Omlet Tour Bus has been very busy this year, and it’s still got several stops to make over the summer. These shows make a great day out for all the family which is just what you need during the summer holidays.
This weekend is the Kent County Show which is the largest outdoor event in Kent. With a countryside area that includes fly fishing, birds of prey and duck herding; an agricultural zone that features cookery demonstrations and ideas of what to do with your home grown produce; and a huge range of stalls to everything from a hot dog to a holiday home. Not forgetting the eglu, of course, on stand 7, near the main entrance. Come and see the famous chicken house in the flesh and ask our friendly team any questions you have. The show runs from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th July at The Kent Showground, and tickets can be bought at the gate. For more information visit the website.
The following weekend we will be at the CLA Game Fair at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire – the world’s greatest country sport and countryside show. It is a great chance to experience what the countryside has to offer and with over 1000 exhibitors you won’t be bored! Come and see us on stand A34. The show runs from 24th – 26th July and tickets can bought online now.
Not long after we will be setting up our stand at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show, Brockenhurst. This runs from 28th – 30th July and has been going for 88 years. It is rated as one of the top 10 agricultural and equestrian shows in the UK and there are stalls, a food hall and events such as pig racing. We’ll be on stand 80 and we’re looking forward to seeing you. Buy your tickets online here.
Don’t Worry Bee Happy
A few newsletters back we asked you if any of you are keen beekeepers, helping to prevent the decline of chief pollinator the honeybee. Two days after that newly qualified bee keeper Mark Dewey was told there was a swarm waiting for him. Six weeks on and we asked him to tell us about his experience.
“I attended a three month course with my local bee keeping association, which started in January, with classes every Saturday morning for three hours. Practical courses started as soon as it was warm enough. I had been given the choice of four courses locally (to my surprise) and I chose purely on which day would best suit me.
I received my first Swarm, on June 4th, via the local association co-ordinator, and I would definitely recommend starting with a swarm as they are quite small and much easier to handle for beginners.
A month later, on July 8th, I received a full hive which, to be blunt, was a little scary compared to my first swarm. Moving a full hive with approximately 30,000 bees in the back of the car is quite exciting if you have never done it before! I have left the full hive alone for now, but there’s quite a lot happening at the moment, as the new swarm is building up comb, food and brood. I have only taken a little honey so far as I didn’t want to be presumptuous with the weather, but it tasted amazing.”
A Colossal Load of Captions
Last month our caption king was away and we asked you to come up with a one- liner for a brilliant photo on his behalf. Lots of you entered, with some great captions for Ash, Baby Mikey and their chick. It was a tough one but we decided that Trish Hayman’s entry was the best, which you can see under the photo on the right. Here are a few more we thought were crackers:
“Chicken! Egg! Who cares, just pass the soldiers…” – Elizabeth Mason
“Where do I dip my toast in, mum?” – Chriss Norton
“I know organic fresh baby food is best mum, but this is taking it a bit far!” – Liz Bolas
“That’ll be a pint of lager for me and a babycham for my chick!” – Vicki Stencel
“Wahey! – this is much better than a boiled egg!” – Louise Wales
Win with a Wordsearch
If you weren’t a winner this time don’t worry, we’ve got another smashing competition for you this month. Everyone loves a good old fashioned wordsearch and this one has a summer theme, perfect for doing on your hols, or during one of the inevitable rainy days. It won’t take you long and you will have the chance to win a £20 voucher to spend in the Omlet online shop. Just print out the wordsearch, circle the words and send to Wordsearch Competition, Omlet Ltd, Tuthill Park, Wardington, Oxon, OX17 1RR, or email your solution to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words: Sun, Holiday, Ice Cream, Seaside, Sandcastle, Camping, Picnic, Festival, Barbeque, Chickens, Dustbathing, Moulting.
We have had some wonderful weather so far this summer and the heatwave at the end of June made me think how uncomfortable the poor hens must be, forced to wear feather duvets night and day. A couple of our hens had the good sense to moult at least some of their feathers over the last month and they looked much cooler sporting their rather threadbare outfits. Why most hens moult when the weather begins to turn colder is beyond me as it must be utterly unbearable to be fully feathered during the hottest part of the year. Our girls are quite lucky that their run is situated in a nice, partially-shaded part of the garden so they only really get the full heat of the sun in the late afternoons and early evenings when it isn’t so intense. Despite the shady conditions, they were frequently spotted standing around panting with open beaks and opting for the “wing hanging” stance where their wings are lifted out slightly to each side giving them a very odd lop-sided appearance which allows the air to circulate around their bodies a little more. Hens aren’t able to sweat so this, combined with the open beaked panting, seems to be the only way they are able to keep themselves cool when the temperatures soar.
When it is hot, they drink so much more than usual and can dehydrate quickly if there isn’t enough water around so I always make sure that their drinkers are full to the brim on really sunny days. By the time I’d taken additional big bowls of water with ice cubes in down to the chicken run for them to drink, the ice had melted but I watched them returning to the bowl again and again to drink and cool down. The summer heat dries out the earth in their run so on hot days, there is always a lot of dust-bathing going on. Typically, they all seem to want to pile into the same hollow and this causes rather a lot of squabbles which are accompanied by petulant pecks, kicks and indignant squawks as one hen gets in another hen’s way.
The heat had an adverse effect on egg production though with the number of eggs laid going down significantly to the point where we only collected one or two eggs a day when the weather was at its hottest which played havoc with Tom’s egg bartering plans! At least the Eglu and Cube were nice cool places for the hens to retreat to for egg laying as it’s usually a few degrees cooler inside.
With the school holidays almost upon us, I’ve been receiving lots of queries asking what to do with pet hens when going away on holiday. With an Eglu or a Cube, this is pretty straightforward as they can be left unattended for a couple of days as long as the opening at the end of the run is securely fastened shut so that the hens are safely confined within the run. As they are out of harm’s way in the run, the pop-hole can be left open so that they can come and go without needing someone to come and shut them in at night and let out again first thing in the morning. The feeders hold enough food and water for a couple of days so if you have a friend, relative or neighbour who could pop in and top these up every 2-3 days or more frequently when it’s really hot to ensure that their drinkers haven’t been drained dry, the hens would be fine. There is no need to collect eggs daily because hens will happily sit on them and lay more until the nest has been emptied. The run is secure but if it is placed on soft soil or uneven ground and you are worried about visiting foxes finding the ground easy to excavate, it would be a good idea to buy some of the screw in run pegs from the Omlet shop or move the Eglu and run onto firmer ground for extra peace of mind while you are away.
If you don’t have anyone who is able to check on your hens while you are on holiday, we have a network of volunteer Eglu and Cube owners who are happy for you to bring your hens and their homes to stay in their gardens where they will get a holiday of their own complete with VIP treatment! There is a list of these volunteers listed on our forum – http://club.omlet.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=9487 and if there is no one listed near you, posting a request can also usually find someone who is happy to help out.
Barbara’s Star Photo of the Month
Course host of the week
Where and with who do you live? I live in a compact yet bijou, 2 bed town house, in Widnes, Cheshire with my husband, dog and 6 chickens.
Your occupation: I haven’t worked for about 2 years now due to a medical condition I have, that’s when we decided to get the chickens. I DO write poetry in my spare time though and have, of course, been inspired by my chickens!
What is your favourite outfit? I don’t have a specific favourite but I do love hats!
What would you choose as your last supper? Now that’s a tough one! I adore food; both cooking it AND eating It! I suppose it would have to be slow roasted beef with Yorkshire pudding, proper roast potatoes done in duck/goose fat, Parisian Market carrots and sweetheart cabbage, lightly boiled and then tossed in butter and a really creamy, home made horseradish sauce. A perfect crème brulee and a nice bottle of Muscat, followed by a selection of farm produced cheese and biscuits. Then perhaps a wafer thin mint! Well, you did ask :0)
What is the most important thing you have ever lost? I do get upset if I lose something that has been given to me, like presents. I once let go of a balloon my mum and dad had bought me and I remember feeling heartbroken as I watched it float away. I’m not really bothered about having “things” now that I’ve got older, but I still treasure gifts, just don’t buy me a balloon!
Who would play you in a movie of your life? Someone quirky I hope, like Helena Bonham-Carter!
What song do you most like dancing to? Eek, I don’t do dancing, but if you forced me I’d say The Timewarp; then it doesn’t matter if you look silly cos you’re meant to!
If you won the lottery what’s the first thing you would do? Apart from being hysterical? Start planning our smallholding in the country!
About Your Chickens
What are your chickens called? Currently we have Fatima, Eleanor, Lucy, Martha, Prudence and Bea. My original 4 ex battery chickens were named after characters in Tennyson poems (Maud, Fatima, Mariana and Shalott but sadly we’ve lost 3 of them now). Then we started naming our subsequent girls after Beatles’ songs, except for Bea who came to us already named.
What do your chickens like eating more than anything else? They all have different favourite treats, but they do all agree that mealworms are the best!
How many eggs do you get a week and what’s your favourite way of preparing them? 14 normal and about 7 bantam eggs. I make a mean quiche with double cream!
Do you bake more cakes now you have your own chickens? Definitely! Most shop bought cakes use battery eggs, so I started making my own and now can’t stop. In fact we’ve started growing fruit and veg in the garden and recently taken on an allotment. I love using our own produce in the kitchen. The chickens mean we get outside much more than we used to and the garden has been totally transformed. They’ve opened up a new way of life for us.
Do your chickens have a party trick? They’re excellent at making meal worms disappear!
What’s been the most surprising thing about keeping chickens? How relatively straightforward it is. At first I was very nervous and thought every movement meant something was wrong. When I first saw one of them dust-bathing, I thought she was having a fit! Then I got used to their little foibles and have never looked back. Also what individual personalities they all have, how entertaining they can be, and how friendly they are!
Can you imagine life without chickens? I’d rather not if you don’t mind :0) My house would probably be tidier though, as I spend far too much time watching the chickens!
So, You Want Chickens?
I’m cultivating cobwebs
Collecting lint and dust
Only doing housework
When I absolutely must
You see I have a reason
For this abundance of refuse
It’s not a very valid one
Just some fowl excuse
There are chickens in my garden
I got them just to lay
Now I find I’m captivated
Watching them all day!!!!
So, fair warning if you’re pondering
And trying to bribe the spouse
You may find yourself on telly
On ‘How Clean is Your House?”!
Omlet online shop
Here is just a small selection, go online to see the full range
Egg Cup Set Round 4 Piece – Green
These egg cups have been delivered to Omlet by unidentified flying objects and we are lead to believe they are a product of the future. So if you’re bored of the same old breakfast we suggest you add these to the equation. You can fly your boiled egg down to the table in one very funky egg cup and invite a fellow space cadette to join you.
Set includes two egg cups and two spoons. Also available in black and white.
Tea Cup & Saucer – Busy Bumble Bee
Sometimes only the best will do, and a tea cup and saucer can turn tea time into something much more special. Made from fine bone china this is a splendid set and the detailed bumble bee print makes it beeautiful. Sourced and made in potteries in Stoke on Trent it is of lovely quality and would make a gorgeous gift for someone else or a treat for yourself, and it is completely safe to use in the dishwasher. Matching items are available so you can put on a summer tea party to impress!
Has a capacity of 275ml. Comes packaged in a gift box.
Wrap-N-Mat – Gingham Red
Don’t you get fed up with wasting cling film and plastic bags on your sarnie every day? It is it a waste of money and bad for the environment, but you do need something to keep your lunch fresh and tasty. So here is the ingenius gizmo you have been waiting for…the Wrap-N-Mat. The picnic style fabric is lined with a waterproof coating that keeps food fresh and can be wiped clean after use, and it acts as the perfect surface for eating anywhere. It can be used every day making it a money saver and environmentally friendly, and we think it looks pretty good too! Just pop your sarnie in the centre of the wrap and fold the sides over like a parcel.
Big Bug Magnifier
See creepy crawlies like you’ve never seen them before with this big bug magnifier. The safe acrylic lens magnifies things to three times their size, so whether it’s a bee, a butterfly or a buttercup you will be able to see details you couldn’t see with your eyes alone. You could even look at a spider if you dare, and see its amazing eight eyes staring back at you.
This looks far cooler than a normal magnifying glass, with a big bug body for the handle that evey kid will love. The funny looking fella also has six adjustable legs that can be positioned to make it a free standing magnifier, meaning you can keep your hands well back from Mr Spider if he gives you the heebie jeebies.
Science and nature can be fun and fascinating for kids! Suitable for ages 4+
The Buzz about Bees
There is far more to bees than meets the eye and there is probably a lot more going on in those colonies than you ever imagined.
In this book Jurgen Tautz introduces the humble bee as a “super organism” and a ‘fascinating result of evolution’. Making honey is a complicated beesness and the bees have to clean clean their cells, build honey comb, visit flowers and guard the entrance. And they don’t spend all their time producing nature’s gold, they also groom, fight, and communicate using high pitched beeping, scents and dances.
With easily understandable text and a range of remarkable photographs showing bees in action, this is a truly fascinating read for anyone interested in keeping bees or biology.
Check below for your local Omlet site. If we don’t currently sell the Eglu in your country, why not e-mail us and tell us why we should!