We wanted a fresh and local source of meat and eggs, so we decided to raise our first flock of chickens in the summer of 2013. We started out with 23 Cochin and Leghorn chicks. We lost one the first night due to the stress of relocation, but the other 22 grew to maturity (see image above). A little later than optimal, we culled all but one of the males - leaving 11 hens and 1 rooster. Our home grown, free range, organic eggs and meat were so much better than the supermarket. There was no going back.
We had two wonderful years with this flock before a fox broke in and we lost almost all our chickens. We invested in a new fox proof coop for our remaining birds, along with 8 new heritage chickens. The coop arrived in two large parts and to get it into the back garden we had to take it apart and put it back together again. It took us about two days to complete this.
During this process Ted gained the confidence to consider building his own coops. This would make it possible for us to breed pure heritage chicks. This kick started the Hermit House Wood Workshop. Ted soon found out how satisfying it was for him to build with wood. Our tool set grew to the point where we had to rearrange the house to turn the largest room into the workshop.
Currently we are building our own set of coops so we can separate each heritage strain to get pure breed chicks. In the meantime we have allowed them to cross breed so we can experiment with hybrid strains. Some of these hybrids have resulted in wonderful new combinations of colours.
In 2016 Ted began developing the Poultry Planner as part of his university project. Although in the end he put the project aside in favour of another dissertation idea, the seed behind the Poultry Planner had begun. Early the following year Niamh decided to pick up the project again in her spare time, coming at it with some new ideas. We both wanted to create a collection of online tools to help people get started and care for their flocks over time. We wanted to focus on what would help small scale holdings, like ourselves, become master chicken keepers!
We also decided we wanted to go down the conservancy route in 2017. We already knew we wanted to breed rare heritage chickens anyway, so it made sense to focus our efforts in this direction. We plan to create a Patreon page soon to handle donations and rewards. We are in the process of creating content and gathering everything we need to set up the rewards for our Patreons. This way people from all over the world can help us to conserve heritage chickens, as well as those who live locally and buy our chicks.
That is how the Poultry Conservancy was born.