Blog post #8 End of March, Home made vegetable stock, chickens settled in & the COVD-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak

chickens UK

Staying healthy & keeping the immune system strong

In the build up to March we have seen the growing concern caused by the outbreak of COVD-19 (the Coronavirus) and the panic that ensued. As shops emptied of food and supplies, the practicing of foraging and survival skills has become something that could benefit everyone.

Keeping a healthy immune system is another practice people should be carrying out, it would be a good suggestion to anyone to take up similar efforts in these testing times. Learning some skills could be the difference between living a healthy/unhealthy life, or even life and death.

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Some healthy foods

Some ways I keep my immune system topped up are;

  • Eating well
  • A daily intake of vitamin C
  • Regular non strenuous exercise
  • Keep stress levels low
  • No cigarettes or Alcohol

Using a combination of home growing and foraging you can eat tasty, healthy meals nearly for free! Due to the abundance of nature and the lack of these skills in the UK, there is also a bounty of food just waiting to be eaten. This said, make sure you do forage responsibly.

It is becoming more evident that our current agricultural systems that are in place globally, our consumerist nature and greed are leading to some real problems that need to be addressed. By changing our attitude to some aspects of our lives and living more in-tune with nature we can avoid widespread threats to our species that occur time and again.

Chickens running freely

As time passes my rescue chickens Giblets and Apollo are settling in extremely well. After a few weeks of timid attempts to leave the safety of the coop, they are now enjoying the Backyard Farm in full. It’s amazing to watch them go from broken creatures that had been abused, to confident and happy.

Chickens keeping the bug population down

Apollo has shown her appreciation with several eggs, leading to a first today of 2 eggs in one night! Giblets is yet to lay but she can take her time, there are some important chicken things to catch up on like eating worms!

Enjoyed their cabbage – Chicken boredom busters

This cabbage didn’t last long! I put this into the coop as a boredom buster a few days ago, needless to say it kept them entertained. The next one I am going to hang from the ceiling as this apparently keeps them thoroughly entertained.

The annihilated cabbage used for boredom busting

Giblets and Apollo only really sleep in their chicken coop during the summer months, however in colder months or wet weather providing your flock with boredom busters is a great way to keep their mental health in check.

Some good chicken boredom busters are:

  • Some straw or hay, simple but effective
  • Hanging vegetables for them to peck like cabbage or sweet potato
  • Get them a chicken swing
  • Add a mirror – something like an old CD is perfect!

Giblets favourite hiding spot

Giblets favorite hiding spot

As the chickens have settled Giblets is showing real character, Apollo will take herself of to the nest around sundown. Giblets on the other hand likes to try and sleep outside either in the log pile or underneath the BBQ.

Needless to say I put her back into the coop to avoid her being swiped by a fox! The first night she decided to sneak off and set up her bed I thought she had been eaten! It was my trusty pooch that found her later on in the evening happily roosting in the logs!

Change of plan with the chicken run

I have decided to put the chicken run on hold for now. Luckily the chickens seem to be quite happy in the garden for the time being, I can also use the resources to build some raised beds which are more important at this time of year.

Chicken run deconstructed

I will build the run towards the end of the year or if we have a long period of unsettled weather. The run will have a roof allowing exercise for the chickens even if its raining, which it often is here in the UK.

Feather regrowth

Along with their characters coming out and developing, so are the patches that had no feathers! Chickens loose feathers to stress, Apollo & Giblets had large areas with no feather growth. After a few weeks in a better environment and lots of bugs, their feathers are making a great comeback.

What difference a few weeks makes, feather regrowth

As the feathers return, the girls are starting to look very much more like they should. They are pruning and caring for their downs hygiene, keeping daily dust baths in the garden. It wont be long now until they are fully recovered in regards to their feathers.

Making a raised bed & salad boxes

With March coming to an end and spring getting into full swing there have been a few more jobs around the edible garden. Seeds have been planted and now one raised bed has been made. The box is 3ft x 3ft and is around 6” thick. There is a 6” border of soil around the box that will be used to grow wild flowers and place egg shells as a slug deterrent.

Raised bed 3ft x 3ft

There is another 3ftx3ft raised bed going next to it, each box will have a specific role, one salads and the other for some squash and other root vegetables. I will also be making some boxes for the windowsill

Bush craft and survival skills during the COVD-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak

Back yard farming isn’t the only way to source food for free! Bush craft skills are fun & useful, you also may never know when you might need them as the current COVD-19 situation is shining light on.

The UK has an abundance of wild foods al readily accessible, depending on the season will dictate what food you can forage for. There is nearly something to eat in every season in he UK, from wild garlic in spring to Sloe berries in autumn.

By supplementing your weekly diet with some added wild foods you can improve your health as well a keeping the bills down. As well as getting you out for at least a few hours a week and experiencing the great and green countryside of Britain.

Foraging for food

Popular bush craft food the Dandelion

For the best guide to foraging in the UK you cant beat the National Trust website. There are many easily identifiable plants to choose from, there are also plenty of other edibles to be found such a mushrooms and nuts!

By mixing the bounty from nature in both the field and the back garden you cant eat very well for very cheap. Added to this is the benefit to the environment, the less food you purchase from a supermarket, the more you reduce your personal negative ecological footprint.

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/things-to-do/foraging/

Making my own vegetable stock

Making my own dried vegetable stock was far easier than I expected, it was also only required some basic household items to make. It is made by simply blending a mixture of vegetables, adding some salt reducing the mix and then baking the rest of the moisture out of it,

Removing the moisture from the vegetables

This creates a sheet of dried vegetable mix that smells fantastic even at this point! You then blend the dried mix again and voila – you have you vegetable stock. It can be added to soups and sauces or for a noodle soup base.

Removing the rest of the moisture

For a full rundown on how to make the stock, follow the recipe I used here

I made the soup for some home made instant noodles to replace the ready meals I would eat at work. It is a cheaper and tastier option, especially with home made vegetable stock!

Did you know?

Chicken facts

Chickens have great vision, contrary to many species of animals & birds they can also see in full colour!

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