Olive Eggs??

As a keeper of chickens, I subscribe to a few websites that periodically give advice or information, but as I have been keeping chickens for over 20 years, I don’t usually find a lot of new information, tho’ its always useful to keep informed of the ‘latest trends’ – smile.

But this time, I did find something new!  Countryside Network, an American website has me stumped!  Did you know you can mix breeds to give you an olive coloured egg?

20160413_1052201-500x375Except they don’t look very olive to me!


I’m wondering whether this is a hoax, but it seems, from the list of suppliers of mixed breeds, that it’s actually an advert!

Testimonial from an Olive Egger chicken owner: “I had really wanted to add some olive green eggs to my egg basket for a long time, and was concentrating more on the egg color than on the chicken breed itself, but now having raised Olive Egger chickens for several years, I can tell you that they are some of my favorite hens. Mine are a cross between a Black Ameraucana and a Black Copper Marans, so they’re solid black with the trademark Ameraucana cheek puffs, and one has the feathered feet of a Marans too! Unlike Marans who I find a bit standoffish, and Amerauanas which can be skittish, their offspring, the Olive Egger chicken, is a chatty, friendly hen who I think has retained some of the best qualities of each of their parents. My Olive Eggers are more consistent layers than my Ameraucanas, which is nice. They are extremely cold-hardy, but don’t seem overly bothered by heat either. They are on the smallish side, definitely more Amerauana-sized than Marans-sized, but their eggs are good-sized. They are fairly talkative chickens, but they tend to chatter quietly and rarely cluck loudly. They have been a wonderful addition to my backyard flock.” – Lisa Steele, from FreshEggsDaily.com


Comb: Varies

Popular Use: Eggs and meat

: None recognized, as this is not a standard breed

: Varies

Skin Color
: Varies

Weight: Usually large, but varies based on breeding

It really isn’t an Olive Egger chicken if it is
: Not a cross. Favaucanas, Ameraucanas, and Aruacanas have been known to lay greenish eggs from time to time, but are not considered Olive Egger chickens.


And – talking about crossing breeds – I’m pleased to report that 7 out of the 9 eggs I put in the incubator just over three weeks ago, from my free range mix of Buff Sussex and Speckled Sussex breeds have hatched (plus a few silkie eggs I bought) and I will be taking some photographs of them soon, to show you – smile.

You can see the pure breed pictures here and here.


My hens have started laying!

I bought some eggs on ebay in August, which I stuck in the incubator, and finally, in the last couple of weeks, the hens have started laying!

And today, I put a listing on ebay to sell some of their fertile eggs for hatching, and can’t believe that I’ve already sold 2 lots!

Here are some of my lovely Buff Sussex hens and cockerels.


I’ll put up some more pictures of them roaming the garden later – this is just to ‘show them off’ – smile!

The Chicken Swing!


This is not an advert!

However, it is a genuine item for sale, which made me laugh when I saw it!

It’s not a bad idea, but if you want your chickens to have fun, you could easily make it yourself – from a couple of ropes slung over a tree branch and a piece of wood!

Happy New Year! and see below for info about my Sale on Etsy & my series on The Twelve Days of Christmas …..

My “12 days of Christmas Sale” is running in my ETSY SHOP 

For more details, please see my post on  julzcrafts.com

I have also been writing a series of posts, on julzcrafts.com, linked to the Christmas Carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, and following parts of a post that I found online, originally published in Backyard Poultry Magazine (2013).

I should have written it on this blog, as its about the birds & poultry featured in the Carol.  So I’m belatedly, copying today’s post here, and if you are interested, you can check out the rest of the posts, and the one’s planned to continue until the end of the 12 Days period between Christmas Day and Epiphany (6 January).

Exploring the 12 Days of Christmas History and Life in the 18th Century  

Five Gold Rings


Illustration of “five gold rings”, from the first known publication of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (1780)


I’m deviating from the original article I have been basing this series on for the 5th Day of Christmas, as its difficult enough to relate Gold Rings to birds, although this “may have referred to Ring-Necked Pheasants, or perhaps to Golden Pheasants. Those original meanings unify the verses around a bird motif.

Both of them are natives of Asia but have long had successful populations in Europe and the British Isles. The Romans probably introduced them to Europe during their Empire. Pheasant were accepted residents of Britain by the 10th century.” 

I’m not convinced this is the best interpretation!  After all, the whole song is not just about birds, but it’s fun to try and link them anyway – and FIVE gold rings do seem to be a bit excessive, even if it was for a ‘true love’!

The Radio 4 “Tweet of the Day” has chosen another bird, and you can hear it here;



a British Goldfinch in flight showing the yellow ‘flash’ on wing feathers – some American Goldfinch have bright yellow bodies!

“As actress Alison Steadman outlines the refrain Five Gold Rings in the song is a recent thing, having emerged as an Edwardian addition to the song when Frederic Austen composed the music we know and love today. Yet in the century before that, a small colourful bird captivated Victorian society like no other. The goldfinch.”

PS:  In the past, some international readers have had problems listening to BBC iPlayer links – especially in the USA.  If you manage to get to the page without any problems, you may be able to download the file – its only 2 minutes long – and listen to it on iTunes.

Please do let me know if you have any difficulties, or even if you can access it – as its good to know.  You may have to register with the BBC site – this is a consequence of the new rules and regulations on paying for tv licences if you watch programmes online. A pity really, because the BBC always prided itself that it was available worldwide!

A Guide to Duck Shelters for Winter

I’ve currently got two pairs of call ducks – unfortunately the two original white males have disappeared – I know not where – so I have been doing a bit of research, and as a way of keeping some of the information, I am copying this post that I found in the online Countryside Magazine – the original post can be found here.

With their double coat of waterproof feathers over thick, warm fluffy down and a layer of body fat, ducks (regardless of duck breeds) are exceedingly cold-hardy. They love being outdoors year-round in most climates, perfectly happy playing in the rain and even the snow. Duck shelters don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. But providing your ducks a place to occasionally get out of the elements, especially the wind, is important.

Older ducks, any suffering from one of the (fairly uncommon) duck diseases, those molting, or young ducks just growing in their adult feathers do run the risk of becoming chilled or suffering hypothermia in extreme cold temperatures. Here is some information about ducks and duck shelters to help you get your flock through the winter as comfortably as possible.

Your night duck shelter should be draft-free, but well-ventilated, since ducks emit a lot of moisture when they sleep, and that moisture can lead to frostbitten feet. Unlike chickens, who come equipped with vulnerable extremities in the form of combs and wattles that often suffer frostbite, ducks only have to worry about their feet, so be sure to line the bottom of the duck shelter with a nice thick layer of straw. Although you can use shavings or hay for bedding, straw is a superior insulator because of its hollow shafts that trap warm air inside and provide a nice soft bed.

Stacking straw bales along the inner walls of your duck shelter (if there is extra room), is helpful because they not only take up some of the cold, dead air space, your ducks often like to squeeze behind them to sleep, which also helps them to keep warm.


Duck shelters should never be heated. For one thing, the ducks don’t need it, being perfectly capable of pulling their feet up against their warm bodies and tucking their head under a wing to sleep, but more importantly, heat can cause fires so easily, and the heat also creates moisture – which can lead to frostbite.

Ducks are extremely vulnerable to predators, especially at night, so for their safety, they should be locked inside a secure duck shelter. A chicken coop, shed, doghouse or even child’s playhouse all can be converted into a great duck shelter with the addition of a solid door with a predator-proof latch on it and some ventilation spaces cut high up on the sides and covered in 1/2″ welded wire. Ducks don’t roost to sleep like chickens, they are perfectly happy making a bed in the straw on the floor, and they will lay their eggs in a corner of their shelter, usually in the pre-dawn hours, so neither roosting bars nor nesting boxes are required. I have had some luck filling wooden boxes with straw and having our ducks lay in them, but more often than not, they prefer to make their own nests on the floor.


Adult ducks don’t need feed and water overnight – and in fact, will just make a mess if you do provide them a nighttime meal. One caution though: If you remove the water from your duck house, be sure to take out the feed as well, because ducks can easily choke if they eat without having water to help wash the feed down.

When snow covers the ground, your ducks will still love being outside, as long as you create a wind block in a corner of their pen using tarps, sheets of plastic, landscaping (low shrubs, bushes, and trees), bales of straw or plywood. They don’t seem to mind the cold but don’t like the wind. Even banks of snow pushed up against the run fencing provide a great wind block for them.

It’s easy to build a few simple A-frame structures out of plywood and some scrap boards for your ducks to sit in during the day in the winter. They don’t have to be very large, just enough to fit a duck or two. These protect them from the wind as well as aerial predators (if you free range your ducks) and will encourage your ducks to spend more time outdoors getting fresh air.

Ducks love to sit in the snow too though. To protect their feet from frostbite, they will tuck them up under their feathers against their warm bellies, same as when they sleep in the winter, or stand on alternate feet, pulling the other foot up against their body to rewarm the blood. However, shoveling and then putting down some straw paths outside over the snow will help your ducks navigate outside more easily and give them a place to curl up more comfortably.

For the most part, these few tips should help prevent frostbite since ducks do have very elaborate, efficient circulation systems in their legs and feet, but if you notice a duck sitting and not moving around much, if she has ice forming on her feathers or her feet start to turn black, get her inside and warmed up. Smearing some coconut oil on a duck’s legs can help protect them from frostbite if you have concerns.


And a few more chicks ….

chicks in lakeland box – Version 2

This is the second lot of chicks I hatched a few weeks ago, they are about 2 or 3 days old here.  Once again, eggs I bought thro’ ebay.  They are another batch of  buff sussex, from an address far away from the supplier of the first lot, so that I can be sure that they are unrelated and I’ll be able to breed them – which is the plan.  Hopefully I’ll have a few chicks to sell in the spring/summer, and later some very pretty hens at their point of lay.


the same chicks before I found a box for them!

There are also some white silkies in this batch – all are growing well – in fact, I have had to replace this box with a much larger one – but first –

king of the water bottle

this buff sussex chick has managed to jump up on the water bottle – and is now wondering how to get down again!

Their new ‘temporary’ home – they are about 3 weeks old here – and have grown so big that I had to give them two brooders – those things in the box with them – they provide heat for the chicks, and keep them comfortable.

chicks at 3 wks

Whose Chair is This?


At six weeks old the buff sussex and speckled sussex chicks, who you last saw sitting on the roof of the ‘hen house’,  are already up to mischief!

I’ve taken to letting them out of their pen for a couple of hours most days, so they can do some exploring.  I usually sit in this chair watching over them, and enjoying their antics.

The other day, I went inside to answer the phone, and make myself a cup of tea, and forgot about them for a bit – when I went outside again – this is what I found – it made me laugh – and luckily the camera was nearby, so I took this picture.

(By the way, yes, one of the chicks had cut her foot on something, and I did wash it and put some disinfectant on it – she’s fine now!)


A couple of days later Teeni, my (I think) barbu d’uccle, bantam hen, who has started taking her 3 week old chicks out and about with her, came and visited me when I was potting up some plants – using the old soil from a wooden planter that had rotted – at the bottom at the pots, just as a filler.

Mum is the blur at the back – the chicks are having a great time.  The one on the far right is sitting on the handle of my trowel – so you can see how small they are, but wow – can they fly!