Wednesday, 18 December 2013

2013 in the Heart of Dorset

As the wind whistles up and down the Blackmore Vale, the trees rattle loose the last few leaves clinging to their branches and the clouds roll back just enough to let a single, solitary shaft of wan sunlight, illuminate Flyte so Fancy. So it is, that the earth has completed the celestial dance with the sun once more, and we have reached the end of another (!!!) year here in the heart of Dorset.

While the year was perhaps this year more sunshine than rain, it has been a busy, exciting and at times frenetic year; what with Shows to attend, a new revolutionary Hen House to launch, news products to test and at all times, the stars of this blog, the FSF flock to look after.

Flyte so Fancy Chicken CoopsIt was in March that we launched out latest hen house, the Aviary. With its unique one sided access design, it was created for poultry keepers with limited space in their gardens. Built to house a minimum of four birds in the smallest model, to a maximum eight in the largest, the hen house has many great features often requested by our customers. The house is raised off the floor, creating a sheltered area beneath, a dry place in winter for your birds or their feeders and drinkers, or a shady spot in the summer to keep cool. Secondly, with its large access door to both house and run, getting in to clean is easier than ever, incredibly useful during red mite season. Finally, it has a veranda of day perches out the front, perfect for an afternoon snooze for your girls. With the Aviary hen house successfully launched, the Royal Hampton Court Show and Tatton Park Shows loomed.

2013 Royal Hampton Court Palace Show Celebrity Hen Houses

This year we worked in conjunction with Country Living magazine and the Royal Horticultural Society, to bring something truly special to the Royal Hampton Court and Tatton Park Shows. Our celebrity designed Hobby Hen Houses. One of our most popular houses, in no small art due to its Alpine chalet looks, the Hobby Hen Houses were sent off to their respective celebrities and I returned to my chair to twiddle my thumbs and await the results. The six celebrities were BHWT supporters Phillipa Forrester, Kate Humble, Strictly star and Dragon's Den Deborah Meaden, gardeners gardener David Domoney, designer Sophie Conran and florist Nikki Tibbles. The arrival of the hen houses at the Royal Hampton Court Palace Show exceeded even my wildest dream, with each celebrity bringing their own unique touches or artistic flair; from Kate Humbles veg window boxes, Nikki Tibbles flowery affair or Deborah Meaden's Dragon's Chicken Den. The reception of the hen houses by all and sundry was unprecedented and really affirmed what it is we believe in here at FSF HQ. After they were displayed at Tatton Park to equal acclaim, they were auctioned off to raise money for two charities; the RHS School Garden Scheme and Country Living's choice of the Addington Fund, raising well over £2000.00 for these worthy charities.

Celebrity Designed Hen Houses at Hampton Court Show 2013

ChickenGuard Automatic DoorsAs the year passed we got many new and exciting products into FSF HQ, all needed to be given a trial run by our resident poultry scientists, the FSF Flock. From the new highly functional Automatic Door Openers, the ChickenGuard. With a built in timer and override open and close buttons, the ChickenGuard has proven incredibly popular with our customers. Over the Summer, as the sun beat down, we test drove the new Trent Drinker, in our chicken paddock. A sturdy plastic fountain drinker, it is modelled to work in a similar way as a galvanised fountain drinker and its ease of use. certainly made keeping the flock well supplied with water an easy task. As winter rose its weary and sleepy head over the landscape, Nature's Grub arrived with some tasty new Garden Blends, each filled with nutritious and  delicious yummy-ness it did not take long for our hens to eat them up.

New arrivals to Flyte so Fancy

While everything else was going on this year, of course there was our Flyte so Fancy flock to take care of. 2013 saw new arrivals, some gorgeous Gold Sebright's and Quail who now live in an Aviary 8 and Maggie's Dozen by the FSF Shop. Down in the chicken paddock, two clutches of Silver Spangled Hambugs and one of Gold Laced Hamburgs successfully hatched and the year also saw a gosling or two join our gaggle of geese. Most recently a pair of Old English Pheasant Fowl came to live with us in our chicken paddock.

One of the Flyte so Fancy Hens

As the winter chill begins to spread through the bones, icy breaths fog the air and our sister company Dorset Log Stores finds herself gearing up to keep people warm, here at FSF in the last week before Christmas we've begun our annual tidy, made sure that there is a deeper layer of Hemp-E bedding in all the coops and personally beginning to prepare for another busy year of blogs all about chicken news, tips and ideas and what is going on here in the heart of Dorset, at Flyte so Fancy.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

An Automatic Door for your Chicken Coop or Hen House

I have been engaged in a twenty seven year love affair with sleeping and bed. While I am able to drag myself from the warm, snug and comforting embrace of a tog 24 duvet with the minimum amount of fuss every week day, come the weekend and the all important Sunday morning lie in, getting up is difficult. Very difficult.

Which is why, as soon I was able, I attached a ChickenGuard Automatic Door to the front of my Maggie's Six Hen House. Now if like myself, you are also engaged in an affair with Morpheus, then an automatic pophole for your chicken coop is a must. The automatic door units work off ambient light to tell them when to rise in the morning and close in the evening.

As they work off of ambient light, it means that in the evening after a busy day terrorising their surroundings, your flock have plenty of time to get inside before the door closes. The aluminium doors are both light weight and sturdy, so are strong enough to keep any predator out while remaining streamlined. They are a tiny portcullis protecting your hens, like the castles of old.

VSB & Chickenguards from Flyte so Fancy
VSB & Chickenguard Door Openers
The VSB unit is a well established automatic pop hole unit. Working off ambient light to open and close itself, the addition of a light sensor cable, means that this great little unit and your pop hole door can be fitted internally to your chicken coop, meaning that the exterior aesthetic of your hen house isn't ruined. At Flyte so Fancy we take great pride in the rustic beauty of our hen houses, so we think is a nice feature.

The VSB Unit can also have a timer unit added to it, allowing for a greater control over your automatic door. By setting the time that your door opens and closes, it means you can make sure that on short winter days or long summer ones, your hens get the maximum amount of time out and about.

Automatic Chicken Doors
VSB on a Maggies 12
The ChickenGuard Unit, which I've fixed to my Maggie's Six Hen House, is a relatively new Automatic Door Opener. With amazing functionality, this little unit gives you an unprecedented level of control over your door opener

Coming in the standard model as a timer only control, you can upgrade to the premium model, which has both the timer and a light sensor. You can also mix together the two options on the unit, to have it open on the light sensor but close on the timer, or vice versa depending on how you want it.

What is brilliant about the ChickenGuard unit, is that it has two large override buttons on the front. Up early (unlikely in my case) and it's still dark outside, you can press the Open button and let your girls out early. Equally, home early and your girls are all in, but it isn't dark enough yet for the door to lower by itself, just push the Close button and lock them away safe for the night.

Having an Automatic Pop Hole Door on your hen house is a great aid for any poultry keeper. They save going outside on windy rainy nights to shut up the hens, or getting out of bed on a cold Sunday morning to let them out. They continue to prove popular with many of out customers here at Flyte soFancy. There is rarely a day when the FSF Workshop isn't fitting an Automatic Pop Hole Door to one of our hen houses ready to go to one of our customers.

If you have any questions about the unit why not leave a comment below or call us on 01300 345229 to talk to a member of our team.

Thanks for Reading

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Chicken Treats; The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The arrival of chocolate biscuits, fizzy sweets and cake at Flyte so Fancy, on a more regular basis can only mean two things; one I will actually use the gym membership card that mainly sits in my wallet to make it look like I'm trying and secondly that it's nearly that most festive time of year. Now while I can eat all of the green foil mint triangles from the tin (leaving my colleagues to deal with the nasty blue wrapper coconut oblongs) with relative impunity, albeit some hostile glares, when it comes to our chickens, we need to make sure that they are getting the treats that are the most nutritionally good for them, in the right amount and not too often. One of the regular questions we get when we talk to our customers is, "What are the best treats I can give to my chickens?".
Treats for Chickens

Of course there are many different treats available; pecking blocks, mixed corn and the various Natures Grub mixes all have their own advantages. Be sure to look at our new Natures Grub Blend ranges as well, fruit blend, herb blend, and vegetable blend, all healthy nutritional treats for your girls (however make sure to serve them all in moderation). When it comes to choosing your treat for your chickens, its a question of what you want it for. If you are looking to hang something off a Jungle Gym or a shelter for your girls to amuse themselves with during the day, then a pecking block is the answer. Conversely, if your chickens free range around your garden, perhaps broadcasting some tasty mealworms for them to peck and scratch at for entertainment would be better suited. Whichever you end up with, its safe to say that your girls will go bananas for them.

This leads to its own problems. Like a naughty child will never eat their dinner of quiche and salad, if there is also an ice cream sundae sat on the table, chickens will ignore their everyday feed of Layers Pellets, if there is the chance of something tastier. You will also find that if you mix your Mixed Corn in with your Layers Pellets, they will eat the good stuff and throw the Layers Pellets to one side, creating a mess. Because of this it is always a good idea to give them their treat away from their feed and at a particular time of day. For example we like to broadcast some Mixed Corn here at Flyte so Fancy in the afternoon for our ladies and gents to have a peck at.
Treats for Chickens

Another problem is that we, soft-hearted humans seeing how much our chickens are enjoying their tasty treat can be rather liberal with quantities. You should never over feed them any sort of treat, it can quickly over throw their digestive balance, making them fat and ill.

Food you should avoid giving them too much is sweetcorn, cheese, yogurt, meat, kitchen scraps, bread and sunflower hearts, again it upsets their digestive system and gives them yellow runny poo. Peanuts, rapeseed, the nightshade family and pea family foliage are all toxic to poultry. If you find that your hens have diarrhea, its is possibly due to them having too many greens or an abundance of treats in their diet, try cutting back on these and see if it solves the problem. If the problem persists then check out our Helpful Health Chart, a very basic symptoms and diagnosis charts, compiled from our Poultry keeping experience.

An afternoon treat for the FSF hens

All chickens love their treats, we of course as caring poultry keepers love giving them treats too, however like me and scoffing all the green foil mint triangles, sooner or later its bad for you. When it comes to giving your chickens treats, a sensible amount once a day, if you are scattering feed around the garden or a well sized pecking blocks, will keep your girls happy and interested.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cleaning your Eggs

Emerging from the other side of the "Storm of the Century" (perhaps a somewhat premature moniker as there are still 87 years to go), with the exception of bountiful piles of leaves everywhere and the occasional branch, Flyte so Fancy HQ survived the great wrath of St Jude's Storm. What we will be recovering from in the next few weeks is the mud of the chicken field, after a deluge of epic proportions.

Flyte so Fancy Maggie's Twenty Four Hen House

With our wellies pulled high, everything is going to be a little bit muddy for awhile. This is going to make the job of  keeping the inside of the Maggie's Dozen and the Maggie's Twenty Four (that our hens, ducks, guinea fowl and geese live in) clean and keeping the freshly laid eggs clean too, all the harder. Keeping the nestbox clean and and dry is probably one of the simplest and easiest ways to keep your eggs clean too, meaning you wont have to wash your eggs. However, you might find that no matter how hard you try, at this time of year, everything gets a little bit grubby. 

If you have a small flock of a few hens pottering around the back garden, then a quick rinse under the tap will probably get the job done. What you should never do however is leave eggs to soak in water. The porous nature of the shell on a freshly laid egg means that if left to soak, it will draw the water into the membrane of the egg, along with any bacteria on it.

Egg Wash LiquidTo ensure that you kill any bacteria or germs living on your eggs, then you will want to use an egg wash. Biolink Egg Wash, is a highly economical anti bacterial egg wash for use on eggs. For use in machines or hand washing, this highly effective liquid is a great wash for your eggs and proven to be highly effective at killing of bacteria (don't tell anyone because its a secret, but its on offer at the moment too at £6.49). Equally effective is Net-Tex Ready to Use Steriliser & Egg Wash. As simple to use as it sounds, its just a case of giving the egg a spray, leaving it and finally giving it a rinse off. Designed to kill even the hardiest of bacteria, it is a great little item to have ready in the cupboard.

If your passion for poultry has gone a little overboard (ours most certainly has) when it comes to cleaning your eggs in a machine, Chicktec Egg Wash Powder. A combined egg wash and bacterial powder, it is perfect for use in an oscillating machine or for a hand wash. 

DEFRA does have rules about egg washing, and while most of it doesn't apply to us humble backyard chicken keepers, it is good information to know. EC Egg Marketing legislation does not allow for Class A eggs to be washed, the feeling behind it being that eggs of this quality should be clean enough to begin with. Class B eggs and those for processing are ok to be washed.

Yummy Eggs from the Flyte so Fancy Hens

Clean eggs are important for a mess of reasons. If you are incubating your eggs for a new generation of chicks, then if you have not sterilised the shells, you will find more often than not the chicks either do not survive for very long, or are very sickly. Leaving bacteria and poo on the outside of the egg is hardly desirable if you have your eggs on display (and why wouldn't you?) and of course you do not want it left on the shell, as over time it will permeate into the egg. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Autumn Thoughts on Chicken Care

I headed down to the local town this last weekend, where they are filming a new adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd in front of the beautiful town Abbey, to have a look as the town was transported back in time. With my wellies on and the peak of my cap pulled down down to beyond my nose I braved the weather. Walking home and feeling a sudden childish liberating urge to jump into a puddle, I quickly paid the price, as the depth of the puddle far surpassed the height of my wellies, forcing me to continue home with soggy toes.

Luckily my three hens avoided all these problems last weekend due to some added protection, done during the standard Saturday morning chicken chores and hen house clean. As well as the usual cleaning out of the old bedding and the weekly regimen of red mite treatment, I also gave the small chicken shelter that I have within my larger run, a once over. As well as being somewhere dry for the hens to hang, the shelter is where I store my poultry feeder and drinker during these wetter months, so it is vital that it will stay dry when in there. Wet feed is wasted feed, so I always triple check that it will avoid getting damp within the shelter and of course once within the shelter the chances of the feeder getting blown over are taken away.  

Secondly, one of my hens is persisting in her moult at the moment. As feathers are made of protein, I have been making sure over the last month or so to keep her diet nutritional. As such they all get a healthy serving of mealworms (the perfect source of protein for a bird) as an afternoon treat. The moult is an annual occurrence, lasting around a fortnight and often disturbs egg laying. The uneven nature of a moult can leave your girls looking straggly, but with plenty of protein and a bit of a rest, they'll soon be full feathered again and laying as normal. 

Lastly, I got some extra woodchips put down in the run. It doesn't take much rain to turn a poultry pen in to a quagmire of mud, so I always like to put down a thicker layer down to keep my girls high and dry and out of the mud. Made from hardwood (not bark, which will quickly turn to mush in the rain), the new layer of woodchip will sit happily in my run over the winter creating a protective layer for my girls and keeping them from the mud. If needs be I can also wash the woodchips down with a disinfectant or just turn the hose on them, although if the weather persists like the weekend, it would seem unnecessary. As winter goes on I will occasionally top up of the run with a bag of woodchip here or there, if it looks like it needs it.

These three little Autumn jobs meant that when I got home on Sunday (soaked to the skin and with sodden feet) and squelched down the garden path to check on my three chickens, having  feared for Huey, Louie and Dewie in the monsoon of water falling from the sky, I found three very dry and happy hens sitting in their shelter and enjoying a light afternoon luncheon of mealworms. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Away with the Birds

A long time ago, Monty Python's Holy Grail taught us that the African Swallow doesn't migrate. In fact while some winged wonders, shake a tail feather and take to the skies for a warmer clime, here at Flyte so Fancy we always turn our attention to those; too small, too weak or too lazy to make the trip. As such, its time to stock up on the wild bird feed and watch as terrified as Tippi Hedren, the sparrows accumulate on the hedgerows.

Blue Tits garden bird feeders

Of course, here at FSF we have everything you need to keep those garden birds happy and to help them through those cold British winters. We would especially hate to see our resident robin, Brian, catch a cold as he flits around the FSF garden.

No Mess Wild Bird Feed
Garden Bird TablesWe've started this year, by going around and making sure all our bird feeders are in fine fettle. We have an array of feeders around FSF HQ but near the oak tree, where a particularly vexatious squirrel lives, we have some of the brilliant anti-squirrel feeders. With their outer cages as protection, the feed within remains secure for the busy beaked birds and out of the hands of others. This also cuts down on the mess that feed-filchers can cause while raiding the supply of peanuts or seeds. Further away from the oak tree and around the garden we have some multi-ported feeders set up, making it easier for the garden birds to grab a snack.

We also checked that all the hooks and feeding stations are all in tip top shape. Sometimes when a swarm of garden birds land on one side, they can begin to resemble the leaning Tower of Pisa. We also gave our teak bird tables a once over to keep them looking smart, (which are currently on a super special offer by the way) we all know how easily the dining experience can be ruined by a shoddy surrounding. So, our solid teak bird tables are given the Michelin star treatment, to make sure even the fussiest of birds will stop in for a bite.

Garden Birds Fat BallsWhen it comes to dinner, make sure that you have an all round feed that is going to be beneficial to your garden birds. We love throwing them down some mealworms too (a handful has to go to the chickens also otherwise they scoff the lot) but giving them an all round feed mix or a no mess mix if you like your lawn, is best for their staple diet, and Nature's Grub have a fantastic range of wild bird feeds. Sunflower hearts and Niger seed are a great source of protein for little garden birds in cold times too.

Having got it all sorted and the garden birds ready for winter, we retreat back inside to work out the jobs we need to get started for our hens to be ready for winter too. Unfortunately as the feeders of nuts, seeds and no mess mix go down, the sparrows are slowly joined by three crows, a lazy blue tit and a couple of collared doves, all just sitting outside the window and staring at us. Time to go fill up the bird feeders again.

woodpecker eating peanuts


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Yummy Recipes For Using Your Own Free Range Eggs

Autumn has long been my favourite time of year since I was a young child. I don't know if it's due to the almost golden sunlight, the russet ochre of the trees or running through piles of crisp leaves, but Autumn will always be the season for me. However, for us poultry keepers it can mark the time where our chickens, tired from a long and productive summer of egg laying take some time off to put their feet up, and the abundance of fresh eggs each morning can dwindle.

Freshly Laid Eggs from the Flyte so Fancy Hens
Freshly Laid Eggs from the FSF Hens
So for a last hurrah before Winter arrives, we turned to the source of all things yummy, scrummy and good for the tummy; the Flyte So Fancy HQ Head of Cakes and Pastries, Grandy. She has supplied us with some cracking recipes to use the last of our eggs and the expert advice of "clean palms, mucky fingers" (whatever that means?).

First off, a brilliant breakfast treat

Dropped Scones

Preperation 10 mins. Cooking time 3 mins.

225g / 8oz self raising flower
2.5ml / 1/2 tsp salt
15ml / 1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg
300ml / 1/2 pint fresh milk
25-50g / 1-2oz butter melted
Butter, Jam or Honey to serve

Sift the flour and the salt into a bowl, then add the sugar. Mix to a smooth creamy batter with whole egg and half the milk. Stir in the remaining milk. Brush a large heavy frying pan with melted butter, then heat. Drop small rounds of scone mixture, roughly 12 in all, into the pan. Cook until bubbles show on the surface, usually around 3 minutes. Carefully turn over with a knife, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Pile the scones on a plate to keep warm and then serve immediately with lashings of butter, jam and honey. Delicious!

A little savory snack now, perfect for a picnic or in a lunchbox.

Stilton-Filled Eggs

4 eggs, hard boiled and shelled
50g / 2oz blue stilton cheese
5ml / 1tsp paprika
30ml / 2tbsp fresh single cream
salt and freshly ground pepper
60ml / 4tbsp mustard and cress
small slices of tomato to garnish

Halve the eggs length ways and carefully remove the yolks. Place yolks in a bowl and mash finely with the Stilton and stir in the paprika and cream then season to taste. Pile back into the egg white halves. Cover serving plates with mustard and cress and then place egg halves on each. Garnish each with slices of tomato and chill lightly before serving.

Finally, a brilliant tasty pudding that will have people queuing for thirds before they have had seconds.

Queen Of Puddings

Preparation 25 mins plus 30 mins standing. Cooking time one and a quarter hours.

100g / 4oz fresh white breadcrumbs
25g / 1oz caster sugar
5ml / 1tsp grated lemon rind
450ml / 3/4 pint fresh milk
25g / 1oz butter
2 egg yolks
30ml / 2 tbsp raspberry jam warmed

Separate the yolks and whites of two eggs.Whisk the whites in a dry, grease-free bowl until soft and peaky. Gently fold in 75g (3 oz) caster sugar with a metal spoon. Put the breadrumbs, lemon zest and the remaining caster sugar into a bowl and toss to mix. Pour the milk into a saucepan. add the butter and heat gently until the butter melts (do not boil). Pour the milk over the breadcrumb mixture, stir well. Beat the egg yolks and fold in. Leave to cool for about 30 mins. Spread into a 900ml (1 1/2 pint) greased oven proof dish. Bake in a preheated  oven at 170 C (325 F or Gas Mark 3) for 30 mins or until set. Remove from the oven and spread the melted rasberry jam over the surface of the pudding. Cover with meringue mix swirls. Return to the oven and bake for a further 30-40 minutes or until the meringue is a pale golden colour. Serve hot on its own, or serve with double cream.

Some lovely recipes to use up the last of your eggs and have a real feast at the same time. If you have some great recipes of your own that you're willing to share, why not post them up in the comments below. We're always in search of new exciting recipes here at Flyte so Fancy.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Dorset Logstores

It's beginning to get to the time of year, where even sitting in my nice cosy office, I consider it's time to hang up the shorts for another year and put on something a little warmer. It's also the time, when our log store begins to fill with carefully stacked logs, as we prepare for another unrelenting and often Siberian winter here in Dorset. As such, September is roughly when our sister company Dorset Logstores wakes up, blows the cobwebs from their eyelids and shake the sawdust from their ears, before setting to with an unwavering determination to build the very finest quality log stores, to be delivered up and down the country.

Wood Store
Dorset Logstores are the perfect way to season and stack your wood for the winter, in a store based around practicality infused with rustic beauty. Whether your looking for a large store like the Okeford with its majestically sloping roof, or a smaller store for going just outside the backdoor for ease of use (like the Melbury for example), Dorset Logstores has an extensive range of all shapes and sizes to fit any garden or fill any space.

All our logstores are designed with a 19mm gap (I've been informed that is 3/4" in old money) between each board to allow superior airflow to remove moisture from the logs in the shortest time possible. The attention to detail doesn't stop there either. The logstores are made form Tanilith-E treated Swedish redwood, this top quality timber will last around 15 years without any treatment. Never foolish men who build their houses on sand, only the finest construction screws and fittings have been chosen by the workshop to be used for finishing off the logstore.

As well as its traditional timber roofing, the logstores uniquely come with a choice of roof styles. Our cedar shingle roofs are made using Canadian cedar attached to a 19mm plywood backing, giving the store a natural look. The Slate effect roofing is made from a coated polyester resin composite, again on a 19mm plywood backing, giving the whole log store an effortless style and stature.

Kindling on the shelf

All the necessary fireside essentials are available from our sister company too. There are the brushes and pans for the all important pre-fire clean, the wicker baskets for transporting your bone dry logs to your roaring fireplace and all the pokers, shovels and tongs to keep your inferno blazing.

An Okeford Logstore with Slate effect roof

Dorset Logstores have everything you need for keeping Jack Frost from the door, and means that people like me can continue to wear their shorts for just that little bit longer. Now all you want is a helpful fellow to chop up that big pile of wood you have.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

My favourite Painted and Decorated Flyte so Fancy Hen Houses

Since the launch of our much admired, beautiful and radiant Gypsy henhouse in 2010, Flyte so Fancy has been offering its customers the chance to add that little extra bit of charm to their chicken coop, with our painting service. Of course here at FSF HQ we love the natural timber of our hen houses, but that little artistic flourish can really add something to our gorgeous coops. Whether its sedate traditional colours or something a little more eye catching over the last three and a bit years we've sent out some brilliantly decorated coops (not forgetting all the intricate detail on the Gypsy henhouses). So I thought i would put together a little blog of some of my favourites, and perhaps give you some ideas for your own chicken coops.

Chicken Coop with painted option

These were two painted Long Legged Maggie's Dozen Hen Houses that we had going out on the same day earlier on this year. The house on the right is painted with a cornish butter body, with a doulton blue roof and accents. The eye catching coop on the left is done up in purple pout and jungle fever green. We asked our facebook followers to vote on which one they liked best and the result was neck and neck (my favourite still being the coop on the left).

duck house decorated with ivy

Here we have a photo of a Hobby Duck House, that the customer requested be decorated like a Gypsy Daydream. As such, it has been painted in cornish butter, with those bold pugin red trims, and has the added touch of creeping ivy up both its sides and decorative daffodils around the pop hole. A lovely looking little house.

poultry protection pen

This photo shows an Annie's Coop inside a 9 x 9 Protection Pen, that we had on our display area here at FSF HQ. We spruced it up with a paint job so the residents hens would stop complaining. A fairly simple paint scheme, it does however add that little hint of charm to the middle of the pro pen.

Of course our decorated Gypsy Henhouses is the pinnacle of chicken house painting and decoration. With its intricate and highly detailed individual style it really adds that unique touch to any chicken house. Here are some close ups of my favourite designs.

roses chicken coop

daffodil gypsy hen house

Painted hen house

Roses, daffodils and poppies all making these hen houses a real spectacle to behold.And of course once the hen house is complete, the final result is quite something too. 

Decorated Chicken Coop

These were some of my favourite decorated hen houses that we have done over the last few years. If you've decorated your hen house in a unique way, why not send us a picture so we can see, and if you haven't, I hope this has given you some ideas on how you could paint your Flyte so Fancy Hen House

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Sleepy Office Worker and a Maggie's Dozen

It was "suggested" this week, that I leave the comfort of my drowse inducing reclining chair, put down my cup of coffee and go down to the workshop where the FSF carpenter's (with three Gypsy Caravan's and numerous hen houses on order) were quickly turning our Scandinavian redwood timber into sawdust faster than a family of beavers working against both budgetary and time constraints.

Wandering around and looking at the sturdy protection pen panels being made by Andy, strolling past Toby constructing our ever popular Hobby Hen houses, I settled by Mark the foreman's bench as he worked on one of the paramount hen houses here at Flyte so Fancy, the Maggie's Dozen.

For those requiring plenty of space for their flock, the Maggie's Dozen is a residence for twelve very lucky laying hens. Built with the due care and attention that you'd expect, it has copious features perfect for the modern poultry keeper. The large back access door makes accessing the inside of the house easy and hassle free. The large ventilation grille window on the side means you can control air flow into the keep, meaning warm nights can be cool, and cool nights warm. The removable dirt tray, a must if your hens are as messy as mine, easily slides out of the side panel, making giving the coop the occasional quick clean during the week perfectly simple. Inside the coop are three perches, artfully racked to make use of the large interior of the coop, but also providing a pecking order.

The nest box is a great feature of the hen house too. Externally fitted, the morning egg collection is
uncomplicated and quick. The hook on the roof is there to stop the lid falling on your head also, which I unfortunately found out the hard way, while trying to juggle, a chicken, three eggs and the lid, but came up one hand short.

Shocked to discover what I had been sat on for the last twenty minutes was not a conveniently located bench for tired office workers, but in fact a long legged floor option for the Maggie's Dozen hen house, I tried to sneak out of the workshop with all the dignity and poise I could muster. Elevated on 24 inch legs, the Long Legged Maggie's Dozen rises stately over the garden. While it means that there is slightly less bending down involved in egg collection, their are also myriad benefits for the hens too. It provides an excellent sheltered place to put a feeder and drinker, to save them from the elements, or just as importantly a shady spot for a snooze on a sunny day.

The Maggie's Dozen has long been our most popular house, with good reason. Its mix of carefully implemented design, gorgeous aesthetics and chicken comfort, makes it beautifully proportioned for any feathered flock. The option of adding on a roomy run, gives you complete peace of mind. A vast palace of wood and weldmesh, it provides total security to your girls, allowing them to get on with the busy work of being a chicken.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Top Tips for Getting Rid of Red Mite!

Maybe its the weather we're having at the moment, the time of year, or perhaps every red mite in the world got together for a huge meeting and decided to come out of hibernation at the same time, but we are getting call after call from people every day who are suffering from a serious red mite problem in their chicken coops.

Here at FSF HQ we've put our heads together, formed a vast pool of chicken knowledge and then compiled a list of the top ten ways to identify red mite, and then how to eradicate them.

1: Anne's top tip; put a collar of Vaseline around the end of all your perches. Then in the morning shine a torch on it and if red mite have been active during the night, you should be able to see them trapped within the Vaseline.

2: Are your hens reluctant to go in to their coop at night. If they are, it's usually because they know the little vampires within are waiting for their dinner.

3: If your hens are very lethargic, not laying during a known laying period and have a pale comb it is probably due to them being anemic. This is due to red mite feasting on them every night. The answer, apart from eradicating red mite, is a tonic like Life Guard, which with its iron supplements will help boost them back up.

4: This is what a red mite swarm might look like in your coop, in this instance it was under a perch.

Hen House suffering from Red Mite

5: The way we recommend to all our customers for getting rid of red mite, is to use Poultry Shield and Diatom in conjunction. Using Poultry Shield on your hen house will remove the organic layer of matter which the mites live and thrive in, it also penetrates the protective coating of the mites and their eggs causing them to shrivel and die. Following this up with Diatom, sprinkled within the hen house, but most especially in the corners, any cracks and by the perches, will result in residual mite control. It really does work, and you'll find many places over the web singing its praises. 

6: Another great option we mention in our leaflets (and someone on our Facebook page validated awhile ago) was to make a Diatom paste, by mixing Diatom and water, and painting it on the inside of the coop. While it might not look pretty its very effective against red mite and can easily be washed off later.

7: Diatom is a completely natural product and as such can be directly applied to the bird with no negative affects. The best way to do this is to put a handful or two into your birds favourite dustbathing spot, they will then naturally work the powder through their feathers themselves. 

8: For serious infestations, using a Fumer might be the best way of clearing the coop. Let your girls out in the morning, once they have all laid, then shut up the henhouse tight. Let off the fumer in the coop, it will smoke for about thirty seconds to a minute and then leave it for two hours. Open up the coop and clean it through using Poultry Shield and Diatom. 

9: In the right conditions red mite can go from an egg to a fully grow adult within seven days. This short cycle means that swarms grow rapidly. Make sure to clean your coop so that you break this cycle. Red mite can survive up to eight months without eating too, so even during the winter it is still a good idea to clean and protect your hen house with products like Poultry Shield, Net-Tex Total Mite Kill or the Poultry Keeper Range.  

10: Red Mite can infest any kind of hen house, be it plastic, metal or wooden. So constant vigilance is always needed, regardless of the type of hen house you have.  

If you've got any questions, need to re-stock on mite busting products or are currently trying to fend off a swarm using nothing but quick wits and a sharpened stick, give us a call on 01300 345229 or visit the website and we'll help as best we can.

In other news, the arrival of three Guinea Fowl keets (and what looks like more on the way) last week and with our Silver Hamburg and Gold Hamburg chicks both at around 14 -18 weeks, we have had many welcome new additions to the Flyte so Fancy flock.

Chicken and her chicks

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Keeping Quail

Living with us here at FSF HQ, we have chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, swallows, martins in our barn the occasional woodpecker stopping by and SBB's. We have not had as part of our flock for some years now Quail, however in the last month or so, we have had four Quail come to join us here at FSF HQ.

Egg Boxes for QuailBeing such a tiny bird, they do not need the largest of spaces, making them a great bird for people with limited room. They are however, perhaps rather unexpectedly, reasonable flyers so cannot be kept on a free range basis, but in an enclosure. We have set our new arrivals up here in the run of our display Long Legged Maggie's Dozen with a 9ft run, with their own smaller house underneath the larger, this gives them plenty of room to roam around all day. As quail are so small it is a good idea to put a timber skirting around the bottom of their enclosed area, or equally to make sure there are plenty of sheltered spots to keep them out of the wind and rain; a necessary for such a small bird with the climate our country has. You may find that if
you put your quail in a run or house with your hens, that they will be bullied by the much larger hens and beaten around, having their own space is always better. If you are thinking of getting some quail you will need to get some specialist quail feed. Higher in protein than normal poultry layers pellets, around 24%, this is the optimum feed for quail. They are prodigious egg producers as well, laying around 300 of their distinctive dabbled coloured eggs a year. So, once they are laying, some specialist quail egg boxes, designed for the much smaller eggs quail produce, are going to be in order. If you are interested in knowing more about quail, have a read of Katie Thear's book 'Keeping Quail', really the best book out there and filled with everything you could ever want to know about these unique little birds.

Quail in the backgarden

Now that they are firmly ensconced here as part of our FSF flock and ready to settle down into a life of luxury and leisure, they are truly happy. If you are calling in to our shop at any point, as you walk down from the car park to the barn, you will pass these little brown birds. However you might have to look hard for them, their mottled brown feathering on top of the woodchip make them almost invisible, as they zip back and forth around their run.

When we were first in conversation with Country Living Magazine and the Royal Horticultural Society about donating some of our beautiful hen houses to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Show and RHS Tatton Park Show; with the coops then going onto ebay to be sold to aid two worthy charities, the excitement was palpable.

Now with the closing of Tatton Park Show 2013 on the 28th July; after what seems the whole of the north (with not a flat cap in sight) flooded o'er hill and dale to visit the event, that excitement is subsiding. The displaying of the six hen houses decorated by celebrities such as Kate Humble and Deborah Meaden (as you are all now fully aware I am sure after my numerous blogs) received a paramount level of enthusiasm, admiration and interest. The amount raised by their auction on ebay, was merely the cherry on top of the cake, with a staggering £2046.55 going to two great charities; the RHS School Garden Scheme and Country Living's choice of the Addington Fund which supports British farmers, the whole enterprise has been brilliant and I wouldn't hesitate, in labeling the whole exploit a resounding success.

Hobby Hen House RHS Tatton Park Show 2013

Friday, 26 July 2013

Poultry Worms: Identifying, Curing and Preventing

Here at Flyte so Fancy HQ we have been speaking to many people over  this last few weeks of warm weather, regarding problems that all seem to come back to the issue of poultry worms. While not one of the nicest aspects of chicken keeping, it should just be regarded as one of those things that comes with chicken keeping.

If your hen has mucky tail feathers the first idea that springs to mind is that your chicken has worms, which can happen even if they are regularly wormed. There are three main types of worms that can affect poultry; Roundworms, Gapeworms and Tapeworms. Roundworms are the most common, looking like spaghetti and living in the birds intestine. Gapeworms are a type of roundworm that attach themselves to the throat of the chicken and impair their breathing. Tapeworms are less common and attach themselves to the intestine wall by burying their heads into the lining of the wall. 

Worms are regularly spread by intermediate carriers, like slugs and snails that free ranging hens will snatch up as a tasty treat. The signs that a hen might be experiencing a problem with worms are fairly easy to see. Firstly, check the droppings of your birds. Healthy chicken droppings should be firm, rounded and of two sections.

If the droppings are of a green colour it could be that your hen doesn't have worms but a dietary imbalance. If this is the case, you should ask yourself, do I fed my hens too many greens as treats? Whilst they go mad for fruit and veg, their diet should be mainly a layers pellets with a small tidbit of something tastier at the end of the day, too many greens can give them diarrhoea. A black or runny dropping could be a dietary deficiency again and it is worth revisiting their daily diet.

Yellow coloured droppings which will normally stick to their tail feathers, could mean that your hens diet is very rich in corn or maize, however it far more likely that it is actually a sign of intestinal worms. Birds with messy back quarters will need cleaning up quickly. Get a tub  of warm soapy water ready and immerse the hens backside, letting it soak so that the matter begins to break up. Then (and I recommend wearing gloves) loosen the mess from the back of the bird. After a rinse off it is best to let them dry naturally, so doing it on a cold day isn't advisable. 

There are treatments available for getting rid of worms, however with most things in chicken keeping, prevention will always top the cure. Leaving hens on the same area of ground over a long period of time is a primary cause of worms in a flock and there are a range of disinfectants available for this problem.

Net-Tex Ground Sanitiser Powder can be sprinkled on the ground and will kill worms from the larvae stage to fully grown. Another great preventative against internal worms is the use of a gut conditioner. A natural and safe liquid that you simply add to their drinking water, this herbal product maintains a healthy digestive system. It will help expel internal parasites to keep your hens healthy, worm free and maintaining a good gut. VermX Pellets or Liquid is another very popular brand of gut treatment, which if used regularly, can keep the problem in check.

It should be noted that if you suspect your birds are suffering from a worm infestation, or appear to have gapeworm, then we suggest a vet consultation or the use of Flubenvet, which is a prescribed anthelmintic for the treatment of worms in poultry. 


Worms are an unfortunate part of keeping chickens, it is important to get rid of and prevent internal worms to have happy healthy hens. Herbal gut conditioners should be used on a regular monthly basis to be at their most effective against worms.Vigilance and having a few essential products in your cupboard is everything you need to keep your flock free of worms and in tip-top shape. 

If you are unsure about which product to use or you need some help, please call 01300 345229 and speak to a member of our team.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Celebrity Hen Houses arrive at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Show 2013

After what seems like an eternity of waiting since we were first contacted by Country Living Magazine about their exciting collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society for the Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park shows; one of the countries preeminent flower shows finally arrived.

When July 8th finally rolled around I was to be found sat quietly at my desk, unable to sit still as I waited for the first photos of the event to arrive back at FSF HQ. It was perhaps in vain that I tried to focus on the work in front of me.

Flyte so fancy is immeasurably proud of the quality and care that goes into all our houses. The use of Joinery grade timber, a selection of the best materials for the fittings and precision down to the smallest millimetre, all result in something that we have no compunction in putting our name on. Talking to Phill and Anne a few days ago about the upcoming show, Phill had nothing but joy to express about being chosen to participate in this collaboration; "I really can't think of enough adjectives to describe how happy we are to have our long legged hobby hen houses in this display and how excited to see what unique personal touches the six celebrities will bring to their houses."

Luckily my excitement and expectation was not misplaced as the photos from the Hampton Court Palace Show Press Day came through. My eyes were quickly drawn to the exuberant colours of Nikki Tibbles design, before focusing on the soft colouring of Philippa Forrester's hen house and ending on the clever design of Kate Humbles chicken coop window boxes (specially made for her by Phill, no favouritism of course).

Philippa Forrester, David Domoney and Sophie Conran all painted their houses in an individual way. Philippa Forrester's subtle shades and endearing poems on both sides highlight someone with a true passion for poultry.

David Domoney's (the gardeners gardener) fun egg decoration is an hilarious and cheerful design that really stands out and a clear centre piece for any sort of garden.

Sophie Conran's stencil style fabric print on the roof of her Hobby hen house is a striking and pretty design that I shall be attempting on my own Annie's Ark as soon as I can get the paint and a helper with a steadier hand than my own.

Nikki Tibbles flower decorated hen house is hard to look away from and would provide blooms in the garden year around for any chicken to enjoy. Secretly my favourite, it had drawn many comments of admiration for one of the countries top florists.

Kate Humbles window boxes of delight, make the chicken coop a one stop shop for fruit (yes those are strawberries either side of the pop hole) veg, flowers and eggs.

Deborah Meaden's Dragons Den orientated coop is a hen house with a lot of humour, especially on the boards around the pop hole and topped with two regal dragons on the roof.

Each one of these coops was an individual masterpiece, that we would all love to have in our gardens and all proceeds from the auction of them went to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and Country Livings charity the Addington Fund which supports British farming. 

Talking to Anne as we were looking through the photos (incidentally her favourite being Deborah Meaden's Dragons Den design, she says its because they're both "business savvy women"; I think it's because of the Dragons on the roof personally) we both agreed that the whole event had been a triumph and decided that we've actually run out of superlative synonyms to describe the whole thing. We were however, as excited to see the houses go to the RHS Tatton Park Show on the 25th July and to hear the same great feedback from everyone who clapped eyes on these six very special hen houses.

Hopefully, sharing these photos with you has inspired you to try some custom painting of your own.