It’s a lovely summers day, the sun is out, the colorful flowers in your backyard are in full bloom, the bees are buzzing, the vegetables are thriving, raspberries just waiting for you to pick and eat them straight from the bush and a nice refreshing breeze of air blows lightly through the rustling leaves – and carries something rather peculiar with it.
Years ago almost everyone knew this noise from their own back yard.
Nowadays a lot of people have only heard it in stories or even in the petting zoo.
This time though, the clucking is the most relaxing noise you could imagine, turning this beautiful day into perfection. Your happy little flock of backyard chickens, happily clucking away in your beautiful yard, supplying you with fresh, tasty eggs every day.
Does this sound somewhat too good to be true? A beautiful backyard with flowers, vegetables and even berries that is not completely scratched and ruined from the chickens living in it? Is that even possible?
Yes, it is! And we will tell you how you can make your dream of keeping chickens and still having a beautiful yard a reality.
It might require a little bit of planning, but with these tips, you and your chickens can enjoy a lovely, well cared for yard together.
Free Range Chickens or Secure Chicken Run
The easiest way to keep your yard in a pristine condition is to keep your chickens in an enclosed area. With a spacious chicken run, you are able to keep the chickens in that area and they will not be able to dig up your precious vegetables.
This however might not be an option for everyone due to the garden shape, size or sloped areas. It would then be best to offer the chickens a secure run for the daytime and let them out to free range once you are back from work.
The most important thing to consider is how much room you have in your garden that you would like to offer to the chickens. That determines how many chickens you can keep, without the ladies taking over your yard entirely.
The more space you can offer them, the less damage they will cause – their scratching will then not just affect a small area, instead they will be able to forage for food and scratch out mossy areas in your lawn as well as getting rid of pests like slugs, snails and caterpillars in a wider area, therefore not destroying the lawn but actually keeping it healthy.
If you account for about 20 sqm per chicken in the yard, they will usually not cause much damage to the lawn.
Another important factor to consider is the breed of chicken you choose.
Hybrids usually cause the most damage, as they are constantly looking for food and need a constant energy supply due to the demand of producing an egg almost every day. Hybrids are generally hardy birds that are easy for first time chicken keepers. However, a better choice for a beautiful back yard are calm purebred chickens.
Depending on what you look for in a chicken, and if the eggs are not the most important part of your chicken parenting journey, bantam breeds are generally very nice and docile birds to keep in the garden. Their small size alone often prevents them from doing too much damage. Seramas and Cochins as well as Pekin Bantams and Silkies make lovely, friendly pets and are known to be fairly kind to your garden. Their eggs are generally very small. 2-3 eggs would usually make up the equivalent of one medium sized egg.
If you’d rather have a sizeable breakfast egg, Bantam Orpingtons would be a fantastic choice. They are very calm birds, don’t fly and are simply round and fluffy, perfect, friendly chickens. Due to the big size of regular Orpingtons, the Bantams seem more like a medium sized chicken and lay medium sized eggs. They come in a variety of colours and are a favourite of many.
Securing flower beds and veggie plots
An easy way to keep plants safe is a home made hoop house covered in plastic or netting, that will keep chickens out without difficulty.
If that’s not an option, you could try to install raised beds in your yard. Most chickens don’t seem too interested in foraging for food above head level, so they tend to leave plants in raised planters alone for the most part and the plants can thrive in their beautiful wooden planters. Raised gardens make easy, back friendly gardening possible and more enjoyable.
Should you not have raised beds or want hoops around your plants, we would recommend a mobile fencing option to allow your chickens to roam freely, yet not show off their landscaping skills on your veggie plot. The mobile Chicken Fencing from Omlet is ideal to keep chickens out of certain areas. The new and improved fencing blends into your garden and is available as a 39, 69, 105 & 138 ft roll. This movable chicken fencing is much easier to install than chicken wire and features many benefits such as tangle proof netting, adjustable poles and reflective badges to help you find the gate at night.
Omlet’s flexible chicken fencing comes with an inbuilt gate which features a newly redesigned catch that is stronger and more comfortable to use. You can also set the width of the gate opening to your preferred size making it easy to get in and out to feed your chickens. Another great feature of the gate is that you can position it wherever you want within the layout you have chosen, you can put it at any end, the middle or anywhere else. The width of the gate opening can also be adjusted to suit.
With an overall height of 4.1ft, (which is taller than most chicken fencing), you can be confident that even the most determined of your feathered friends won’t make a great escape! The poles of the fence are also adjustable to ensure that the netting remains tight and secure at all times.
Offer a “chicken spa” area
Chickens love to dig up dry soil under bushes to then enjoy a lovely dustbath in the sheltered, shady area. Allow them to find their favourite spot, or plant some chicken friendly bushes in an area you are happy to devote to your chickens, and they will most likely not think about any other plants. A chicken spa like that will not only keep your girls feathers in beautiful condition but keep them in good spirits and happy moods.
Keep an eye on your chickens
The best and safest time for your chickens to free range is usually when you are with them in the garden and can keep an eye on them. This allows you to keep them from causing too much mischief by throwing a handful of tasty corn in an area as far away as possible from flowers and veggies. My lively bunch of ladies will then loudly proclaim their excitement and run to gather all the tasty treats. This will usually keep them preoccupied for at least 30 mins.
This entry was posted in Chickens on May 30th, 2019 by chloewelch
Are you thinking about adopting a kitten or rescue cat? That’s great – but it’s important to ensure you are completely prepared to provide the care they need first.
Many cats still find themselves placed into rescue centres (whether for the first time or the sixth) when new owners change their mind about their new pet. This is incredibly distressing for the cat, and can put already-busy rescue centres in a difficult situation. Ask yourself the questions below and check you and your home is completely ready for a new furry family member.
Should I buy or rescue a cat?
Before going ahead with buying a kitten from a breeder, it is important to remember there are lots of cats in rescue centres across the country, waiting for their furever homes, including cats of all ages and breeds.
We strongly encourage enquiring with your local cat rescue homes before making a decision. These cats may have been through a tough time and initially be very shy and reserved, but most rescue cats make a full recovery and see a drastic change in their personalities when they are in a safe home and have bonded with their new owner.
Is my home, garden and neighbourhood safe for a cat?
Think about where your home is located. Some rescue cat centres do not allow adoption if you live near a busy road – and for good reason. Some skittish cats can put themselves in danger and there is a risk of injury in a busy street. Consider whether your current home is really suitable and safe for a cat to be going outdoors. If not, are you able to provide an alternative, secure outdoor space for them to play and exercise, such as an Outdoor Cat Run?
Within your home, do you have other animals who could respond negatively to a new furry resident? Only rescue a cat that you know will be okay with other pets and children in your household, and likewise only if you know the existing residents will welcome a new four-legged family member.
Can I offer a secure space for the cat to feel comfortable?
For rescue cats, having their own space to hide when they get scared or anxious is incredibly important. Does your home have plenty of hiding spaces for your new cat to disappear to when it all gets too much?
Are you able to provide a cosy cat cave for your new pet to sleep and rest in complete peace and security? The Maya Nook Indoor Cat House is the ideal den for nervous cats to be tucked away in, as the curtains provide a completely secluded space. Learn more about how the Maya Nook could help settle your rescue cat into your new home here.
Am I willing to provide a rescue cat with the support they need?
Seeing the transformation in your rescue cat’s personality is incredibly rewarding, but first you need to be sure that you can provide the patience and support needed for them to settle in to your home and feel at ease.
If you have a full time job, you may need to consider taking some time off to settle them into your home, get them used to their surroundings, litter tray and neighbourhood. If the household has children, you will need to prepare them to be gentle and quiet with the new cat.
Most rescue cats are discharged from rescue homes with a full bill of health, but on the odd occasion some cats may need a few more vet visits, or even repeat medication. If you rescue such a cat, you must be prepared to accept the cost and commitment required to provide the healthcare they need.
What will I need to settle a rescue cat into my home as smoothly as possible?
- Litter tray, litter, scoop
- Food – speak to rescue centre about what food the cat has responded to best, e.g. wet or dry
- Food and water bowls
- Toys – again the rescue centre may know what they have liked
- Cat carrier
- Calming products
- Outdoor enclosure for indoor cats
This entry was posted in Cats on May 30th, 2019 by chloewelch
Treat your cat this weekend and save 15% on ALL Cat products until midnight on Monday.
That’s right – everything CAT is now 15% off, including the NEW Maya Nook Luxury Indoor Cat House, available with stylish curtains and a handy wardrobe, giving your cat a cosy, secure space they can call their own, and blending seamlessly into your home.
Our Outdoor Cat Runs are also included in this pawesome sale. You could even upgrade your existing enclosure with our range of covers and save 15%.
Don’t miss out on this purrfect opportunity to treat your feline friend – they deserve it!
Terms and conditions
This 15% off promotion is only valid from 24/05/19 – midnight on 27/05/19. 15% off requires no promo code. This offer is available on all cat products listed in our cat category only. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Offers and Promotions on May 24th, 2019 by chloewelch
STEP ONE: LIGHT
The process of egg laying starts in the chicken’s eye. Sunlight enters the eye and activates a photosensitive gland, the pineal gland, located right next to the eye. This in turn triggers a process that releases an egg, or oocyte, from the chicken’s ovary. This light sensitivity is one of the reasons that hens lay less eggs in winter.
STEP TWO: THE YOLK
Hens are born with two ovaries, but one of them stops working straight after the chick has been born. It is believed that this is to save on both energy and weight, and as long as the other ovary is working, one is plenty!
1. Ovary, 2. Infundibulum, 3. Oviduct, 4. Magnum & isthmus, 5. Uterus, 6. Cloaca
The ovary contains thousands of potential eggs, or ovum as they are also known. If you were to open up a chicken, these undeveloped ova can be seen at the start of the spine. When the chicken is old enough to start laying, some of these ova begin to mature into what is later becoming the yolk. At this stage the ova are separated and contained within their own follicles, but when one is ready to move on it releases its follicle and moves out of the ovary and down the reproductive tract, the oviduct.
This process, ovulation, occurs approximately every 25 hours, and normally starts again about an hour after the previous egg has been laid.
STEP THREE: THE WHITE
Via the infundibulum the yolk enters the oviduct, and it is here that the egg is fertilised if a rooster has courted your hen. You might have noticed that egg yolks have a small, white spot on them. This is the blastodisc, the single female cell that together with the sperm will develop into an embryo through cell division.
The journey of the egg is however exactly the same regardless of whether it’s been fertilised or not. The yolk travels through the magnum and isthmus parts of the oviduct, and this is where the egg white (also called the albumen) is created. It works as a thin membrane around the yolk that holds everything together. The chalazae, two spiral bands of tissue, makes sure that the yolk is evenly positioned within the albumen, and the whole thing starts looking like an egg, although missing a quite crucial part – the shell!
STEP FOUR: THE SHELL
The egg receives its shell in the uterus, thanks to the shell gland. It takes roughly 20 hours to produce the shell, so this is the most time consuming part of the process. Before the egg moves on for the last time, the outermost layer, known as the bloom or cuticle, is formed to create a anti-microbial layer. When the egg is ready, the shell gland pushed the egg out of the oviduct and in to the cloaca, the part where the reproductive and excretory tracts meet.
This entry was posted in Chickens on May 20th, 2019 by chloewelch
Many cats in rescue centres looking for a new home have had a very tough time of it. Whether mistreated, abandoned, stray, or injured, the kitties who find themselves in the care of a rescue organisation can, quite understandably be wary of humans. But this isn’t a reason to give up on them.
When I adopted my cat he was depressed and overweight due to the large amount of time he had spent hidden away in his kennel, showing no interest in playtime or human interaction. He had been with the rescue organisation for 4 months and not one person had shown him any interest. Stress had caused his fur to come out in great tufts, but as I stroked him he let out a little purr. I adopted him then and there.
On bringing Smudge home, I opened the door to his cat carrier but he refused to step out for a good few hours, and when he did he scarpered under the kitchen table, hidden as best he could.
In his first few weeks with us he spent a lot of time hidden under beds, behind the sofa, in between boxes or attempting to blend in to a pile of clothes or under a blanket. It took a long time for Smudge to be brave enough to spend time on the sofa and beds, and even then he wouldn’t be up there for long until a slight movement or noise would frighten him and he would vanish.
It became very obvious he was going to take a bit more time to settle in and to feel less afraid, so I was going to need to think outside of the box – or more so inside. As I noticed he felt most secure in an enclosed space where nothing could reach him and he was protected from harm, I started to think about the best kind of bed to suit his timid personality.
The Maya Nook is a cosy indoor Cat House with curtains. Yes, you heard that right, it’s got curtains. But before you start rolling your eyes at another example of anthropomorphism, let me explain. The curtains not only make the Nook look really nice, they are also fully functional and transform the Nook into an enclosed little ‘room’ where cats can rest and sleep in a peaceful, secure space they can call their own. Placing their bed in a den-like Nook gives them a sense of distance and security from a busy home life, while the addition of the curtains completely closes off their space so they cannot see outside, and likewise they cannot be seen.
When I introduced Smudge to the Maya Nook, it took a short while for him to get used to it. I allowed him to spend some time alone with it, giving him the opportunity to approach it at his own will, instead of picking him up and forcing him inside, which I thought could create a negative association. He spent some time sniffing around, going in and out for short periods of time with the curtains open. When he had settled inside for the first time, I closed the curtains for 30 seconds or so and opened them again. I repeated this a couple of times so he could get used to both scenarios.
When he would spend time hidden behind the sofa or under a bed, he seemed to mostly be awake and on guard, unable to relax, whereas now that he is sleeping in his Maya Nook, I feel as though he is getting much better quality rest and actually being able to switch off from what is happening on the other side of the curtains.
The combination of a quiet space and better sleep time has had a multitude of benefits to Smudge’s progress in our home. He is visibly more relaxed and spends more time out of his bed and in the open space with the family, compared to when he spent all of his time hidden and stressed. He is beginning to open up to the possibilities of play time, visitors are still feared but he is becoming braver with showing his face, and always has the comfort of being able to run to his Nook whenever it gets a bit too much for him.
I am sure this will also be hugely beneficial for events such as Fireworks Night and New Years Eve, when the bangs and pops of fireworks can be relentlessly frightening and heard for weeks on end. The Nook will help to reduce the sound, while the curtains will block out any flashing lights coming through the window.
The Maya Nook is designed to fit in the home like a piece of furniture, so we are able to use the space on top for whatever we please. It is a great spot to feed my cat and keep his water bowl so it is always close by and in his “safe zone.” The Maya Nook is also available with a handy fitted closet which provides extra storage for cat food, treats and toys.
Adopting a rescue cat is really rewarding and I’m so glad that I didn’t let Smudge’s initial shyness put me off. If you have adopted or are thinking of adopting a rescue cat who continues to be very nervous and stressed in your home, I would highly recommend providing them with an indoor cat house like the Maya Nook so they can claim a secure space for themselves – it could transform your cat’s personality.
This entry was posted in Cats on May 20th, 2019 by chloewelch
Hamsters make excellent pets – they’re fun, cute, and relatively easy to care for. Their cuddly credentials have made them popular pets all over the world. Hamsters bring a lot of joy to a lot of people, but how can we tell our hamster is happy too, or not? Like all animals, hamsters have the ability to communicate with one another and with their owners. They use body language much like we do and can display a range of emotions that include being happy, afraid, threatened, curious, startled, angry and many other emotions.
Stretching and yawning: yawning is often a sign your hamster is feeling comfortable and relaxed, rather than being very sleepy. If your hamster stretches as he yawns, this is even more proof that he is a very relaxed hamster.
Freezing: this involves your hamster staying in one position, sometimes for a few minutes. Its ears are straight up and he is completely stiff to the touch. There are lots of potential reasons for hamsters to stop moving temporarily: they can freeze both out of fear and surprise, or they can pause their movement so that they can listen more carefully to something that they’re unsure about.
Sitting up on back legs, ears forward: something has captured his attention. Your hamster is standing on its hind legs to see and hear better.
Grooming: hamsters spend a large amount of their time grooming themselves. When a hamster grooms itself, washing its feet, hands and fur, it means that he is feeling secure and happy.
Chewing: if your hamster keeps biting the bars of its cage, then there may be some things that you need to do to improve your pet’s life. Gnawing on the bars of the cage can indicate one of a number of things, including boredom, a lack of space, or overgrown teeth.
Biting: hamsters can bite when they’re scared, when they’re stressed, or when they’re confused. if your hamster bites you, then there’s almost certainly a reason for it. Maybe your hamster is in pain, or simply uncertain how to react to you. Never get angry at your hamster but try to understand the reason behind his behavior.
Ears folded back, eyes half closed: your hamster has just woken up and is still sleepy. It is best not to take out your hamster out of its cage until it has woken up fully.
Running: hamsters are born to run. In their natural habitat they can run up to 5 miles per night! It’s therefore important that hamsters kept as pets have the opportunity to run, usually provided by a wheel. Hyperactivity and repetitive behavior, on the other hand, can also be a sign of stress. A stressed hamster will move constantly, run on his wheels quickly, try and climb his cage and appears more nervous and alert than usual.
All hamsters will have their own personalities. Spend time watching your hamster and get to know his personality and mannerisms. As you get to know your pet, you’ll be able to recognize when they are their usual selves, and when they are not. Observing your hamster’s body language is a great way to be more “in tune” with the needs of your pet, which can be crucial to their health and well being. Visit our extensive hamster guide at the bottom of this page for more information about hamster and tips on how to keep them healthy and happy.
This entry was posted in Hamsters on May 17th, 2019 by chloewelch
Using a steam cleaner to clean any Eglu can be a very effective way. It will not affect the plastic, whereas all surfaces are cleaned, disinfected, and all killed mites, insects and dust are blown away by the power of the steam. As a bonus the surfaces will be dry in no time, because the plastic is warmed up.
Deep-cleaning an Eglu Go once or twice a year is extra easy if one follows these steps:
1. Take of the top panel (lid)
2. Unscrew both side panels and bumpers, and take these off as well. For a complete cleaning you may want to disconnect the run as well.
3. You now have access to all inner and outer surfaces. Clean them thoroughly with the steam cleaner, if required using an old dish brush as well.
4. Clean the bumpers, panels and top lid in the same way.
5. Re-assemble the run and the coop.
This cleaning method has been used for several years now by our Dutch team-member and is guaranteed to keep your Eglu in top condition, without damaging any parts!
This entry was posted in Chickens on May 17th, 2019 by chloewelch
One of the best things about being a dog owner is coming back home to be greeted by a happy (and pretty crazy) dog. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gone to the shops for 10 minutes or have been at work all day, your pup will act like you’ve been gone for days – jumping, dancing, licking and tail wagging. This is quite clearly a sign that your dog loves you and is happy that you have returned to them.
We know that yawning is contagious between humans, but did you know that studies show that dogs are more likely to yawn simultaneously with their owners than with someone they don’t know? It is suggested that this is a way for dogs to show empathy, and that yawning together with their owners is a sign of affection.
Does your dog wake you up with wet kisses in the morning, or does he or she lick your face when you’re playing together? This is one of the absolute strongest signs that the dog feels truly comfortable around you, as it’s a version of the grooming that they would have spent time doing with their parents and siblings in the pack.
You might think that your dog only wants to play when they bring you their favourite toy. Wanting to play is also a strong sign of love, but by giving you their beloved possessions they are showing that you’re the pack leader and that they’re fully dedicated to you.
Loving Your Scent
You might get a bit annoyed when your pup steals your underwear and runs around the house with them, but try to remember that this thievery is actually a strong sign of affection. It means that the dog wants to feel close to you even when you’re not right next to them. If you see your dog doing this you might want to leave an old T-shirt in their bed when you’re out of the house to make them feel safe.
If your dog looks you in the eye when you’re talking to or playing with them, they’re telling you that they love you. Eye contact releases the hormone oxytocin in the brain, which triggers feelings of comfort and affection and creates a stronger bond between you and your dog. An interesting fact is that dogs don’t use eye contact in the same way within their own species. In fact, prolonged eye contact between dogs can be a sign of aggression.
Relaxed Body Language
There are several ways your dog can use body language to show that they feel completely comfortable in your presence. A wagging tail is one of them, but you might also see relaxed facial features with a slightly open mouth and lolling tongue, blinking eyes, raised eyebrows and a tilting head, as well as rolling over for a belly rub.
In the wild dogs sleep huddled with their pack, and as you are your pet dogs pack, he or she might choose to snuggle up next to you for a nap. If they’re allowed to, dogs will sleep as close to their beloved humans as possible, both to feel protected and to protect the people they love the most. In a similar way you might also find that your dog stays close to you and sometimes leans against you when they are feeling stressed or intimidated.
This entry was posted in Dogs on May 17th, 2019 by chloewelch
More than 80% of cat owners are having their sleep disturbed by their feline friends, reveals latest Omlet survey.
Following a discussion amongst the Omlet cat owners about the close sleeping arrangements with our pets, and the resulting impact on our daytime energy levels, we began wondering whether it is actually normal, or wise, to be allowing our cats to sleep in our beds?
Are we just soft when it comes to letting our cats get cosy at night, or are we a nation of pet slaves who value our cats happiness more than our own sleep?
To find out we decided to conduct a survey to shed light on the sleeping patterns of cats and how their nocturnal habits affect their owners. Over 900 cat owners responded and more than half (56%) said they let their cat sleep on the bed with them at night, with 40% allowing them to do so on the first day! In fact by the end of the first month of cat ownership the number has increased to 71% of owners allowing their cats into their bed at night.
A massive 84% of cat owners who allow their cat to sleep in their bedroom admitted to having their sleep disturbed by their cat – and as a result 1 in 5 cat owners sometimes resent their cat following a bad night’s sleep. Could this cosy sleeping arrangement actually be negatively impacting the nations’ relationship with their cats?
We invited these cat owners to share how exactly their cat disturbs their sleep. Many agreed that the main disturbance is due to their cats lying too close to them, purring, snoring or cleaning themselves. However, here are our top 10 favourite, more unusual, ways that cats are disturbing their owners sleep…
- Chasing mice around the bedroom
- Patting my face
- Trying to eat my toes
- Zoomies at 3am
- Dribbling on me
- Trying to wake me up for breakfast, or asking for a snack
- Knocking things off shelves
- Licking my eyelid
- Restless dreams
A third of cat owners say they have to change their bed sheets more regularly since allowing their furry friend to sleep on their bed. Only a small number of people (12.2%) are aware that allowing cats to sleep in their bed is unhygienic.
Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine found that when you look a bit closer cats can have parasites like fleas and ringworm, which unless treated can cause health issues in humans. Fleas for example can jump into your mouth leading to owners becoming inadvertently infected by tapeworms. Yuck.
37% of cat owners have made the wise choice to shut their bedroom door at night, saying they can’t allow their cat to sleep on the bed because their sleep gets disturbed.
1 in 4 owners wish their cat would sleep in their own bed at night – which begs the question, why don’t they?
Perhaps they’re so connected to their owner that they can’t bear to be more than 2 inches away from them, or maybe their owner has never found a cat bed which provides the same level of luxurious comfort as a king size bed and a thick, cosy duvet does?
The Maya Nook gives your cat their own little space, complete with a cosy bed, curtains and wardrobe, to create a warm, secluded and calming zone for them to sleep in complete peace, undisturbed by you and most importantly out of mischief.
Designed to look like a piece of modern furniture, the Nook looks great in any room so can be placed in your bedroom if your cat likes to be close to you, or downstairs to give you a truly undisturbed sleep while your cat enjoys a luxurious slumber in their very own cat house.
Overall 52% of cat owners said they may prefer it if their cat slept in their own bed, yet 70% of people say they don’t regret allowing their cat to sleep on their bed. So the Maya Nook might be the purrfect compromise to keep both cats and their owners happy.
This entry was posted in Cats on May 17th, 2019 by chloewelch
Looking for a breakfast treat that will impress guests, but doesn’t take all morning? Put your girls’ eggs to delicious use with this gooey Nutella French Toast and a selection of toppings, perfect for a tasty brunch to be enjoyed with family and friends this summer.
Ingredients – serves 4
- Sliced Brioche Loaf (8 slices serves 4)
- Lots of Nutella!
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Butter for frying
- Toppings of your choice. We recommend a dusting of icing sugar, fresh summer berries, vanilla ice cream, and more Nutella!
- In a bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Pour into a shallow dish, such as a pasta bowl.
- Spread Nutella (as much as you would like!) on one side of 2 slices of the brioche loaf and put together to create a sandwich.
- Pop roughly a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan on a medium heat.
- Soak each side of the Nutella brioche sandwich in the egg mixture for a couple of seconds, and then place in the frying pan when the butter is melted and hot.
- Allow the brioche to fry for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- We cut these into thirds and served with a selection of toppings for guests to choose from.
This entry was posted in Recipes on May 17th, 2019 by chloewelch
For most pet dogs meal time isn’t very challenging time of the day. Typically owners only put the food bowl down and leave them to it. If this suits you and your dog that’s absolutely fine, but they would without a doubt not have been served food in this way in the wild. Instead they would have had to scavenge and hunt for their meals, keeping both mind and body active. If you feel like you would like to challenge your dog and enrich their daily routine, then making some changes to their meal times can be a good start.
Adding more mental stimulation to your dog’s life can have several benefits. It keeps them busy and tires them out in a similar way to a long walk. Many dog owners forget about challenging their dogs mentally, and when they encounter problems with boredom and linked behavioral issues like chewing, pacing, jumping and barking, they just presume they need to increase the physical exercise. This helps, but it doesn’t satisfy your dog’s hunger for mental stimulation.
Mentally stimulated dogs are not as hyperactive, and they tend to adapt more easily to stress. This is useful if you’ve got a very worried pup who shows aggression towards other dogs walking past the house, struggles with separation anxiety or gets stressed during thunderstorms or fireworks.
Brain games are therefore a brilliant way of tiring your dog out for the evening, or before you leave for work in the morning. By combining this with their normal feeding time, it won’t take much longer than normal, and your dog will love the extra challenge. Additionally you don’t have to worry about giving your dog too many treats as they are rewarded with food they would have eaten anyway.
So what are some fun ways of mentally stimulating your dog during meal times?
The aim is that it should take your dog 10-15 minutes to finish their food. Make sure you supervise your dog the first few times you’re trying a new way of feeding.
Our first tip is nose work. Using their nose comes naturally to dogs, and searching for their food will definitely add stimulation to their daily routine. Scatter the food in the garden so that your dog will have to sniff around to find it. You can also do this indoors, but it might be good to choose a room that’s easy to clean and where the pieces of food won’t get stuck under furniture. If you want to make it even more challenging you can hide little heaps of food under a bush, on a window sill or behind some flower pots. If your dog doesn’t get the game, start with something that smells a bit more than their normal dry food.
Our second suggestion is puzzles and food dispensing toys. The Classic Kong is the most well known food dispensing toy, but you can also find treat balls and complicated puzzles that provide your dog with a harder challenge before they are rewarded with food. The idea with most of these is that your dog will have to move the toy around the floor or press certain parts of the toy to make the food fall out. Dogs absolutely love this, and as they get rewarded again and again it can keep them entertained for hours.
If you don’t want to buy toys you can make some yourself. Try putting the food in a cereal box and taping it shut, in a toilet roll with folded sides, or in a plastic bottle with some holes cut out where the food can fall out. This can get a bit messy, and definitely noisy, but it’s worth it when you see your dog running around trying to get into the box, tail wagging with excitement.
You can also use mealtime as an opportunity to practice tricks and teach your dog new ones. Don’t ask your dog to do the same tricks every meal time, as it will just become a part of the routine, and not challenging or mentally stimulating. By using this time for training you are able to give your dog more than just the one treat at a time, as it’s the food he or she is supposed to eat anyway. This will form a stronger positive association, and your dog might learn faster.
Another thing you can do to change the daily routine is to change the texture of the food. If your dog normally gets wet food, try freezing it into little discs or cubes that they will love crunching on. If your dog gets dry food you can mush it up with a bit of yogurt or water. It’s all about novelty and enriching your dog’s daily routine!
This entry was posted in Dogs on May 17th, 2019 by chloewelch
Nathalie is the owner of the Instagram account My Backyard Paradise. Together with her husband and their three teenage daughters she runs her own ‘mini backyard farm’ in Belgium. The beautiful pictures she shares with her Instagram followers show that this truly is a backyard paradise. In June 2018 Nathalie decided to extend her mini farm with three ex-battery hens. Follow their journey to recovery in the two-part photo diary she kept for us. You can find part one here.
The chickens are still eating an Alfamix mixture, a very rich grain blend with pellets and amphipods, and layers pellets. It’s time to further reduce the layers pellets (this was the only feed they had before we rescued them). For one month we will only give them Alfamix, then they will get the same food as our other chickens. Our chickens also always have access to a large meadow where they can find lots of extra food.
It’s also time to do something about their nails. Usually it’s better not to cut chicken nails, they just have to wear down. But the manure stuck under their nails needs to go. We soak their feet in lukewarm water and wash off the manure. This takes more than half an hour per chicken. In the meanwhile our ducks decide to help us and bathe in the water! As a reward we give the chickens a treat afterwards. It’s strawberry season, so I cut some strawberries into small pieces. My husband says the chickens are still ignorant, they are not used to anything and do not know how to eat a whole strawberry. But they do like the small pieces, they finish them in no time. Slowly we introduce more variation into their diet. Our chickens always get a decent amount of fruits and vegetables, kitchen scraps, leftovers from our children’s lunch boxes etc. We’d rather give it to our chickens than putting it on the compost heap.
We are down to two eggs per day. One chicken stopped laying completely, but we don’t blame her. It’s nature and we have to respect it.
This week it rained for the first time in a long time. Fortunately, I have a very caring daughter who wants to make sure the chickens look for shelter. When she checks on them she finds them in their run, not moving and soaking wet. When she comes back in she’s also soaking wet. She tells me she put the chickens in their Eglu and closed the door “because otherwise they will never learn, mum!”. Our children are really interested in our new chickens and they think it’s terrible how laying hens are treated by the industry. They tell me that next time we have to save 50 chickens! But I don’t think our neighbors would agree with that. It’s important our children learn that nature has a rhythm, and that chickens lay fewer eggs during winter. But this doesn’t mean they have to die! We will just eat less eggs and have to remember to store eggs in the freezer so we can use them for cakes later on. We certainly will not buy any eggs this winter!
Our chickens really start to get to know us and they know when we will bring them treats. It’s now time to introduce them to the rest of our chicken family. Our chickens have not been allowed to free-range since the new chickens arrived. The risk that they would transmit parasites was just too high. But now they are allowed to run free again. And they are very curious to meet these three brown newcomers! The new ladies on the contrary are not too sure about this and stay close together in the middle of their run. We will spend this week introducing them to each other. Eventually we want to keep them all in the same large chicken coop. In no time they are used to the other chickens and don’t even seem to notice anymore when ten other hens scratch around their run.
Since they are now part of our extended chicken family we have to come up with names for the ladies. This is something we always decide as a family. We decide to go with names of the Belgian Royal Family. Overall, they will be our best laying hens, so they deserve some respect. We name them Louise, Elisabeth and Mathilde. They are not scared anymore and eat from our hands. It helps when you talk to them softly, as they start to recognize your voice and associate it with food. Besides vegetables we now also feed them scraps like rice and pasta, which they really seem to enjoy. And they still give us two eggs every day!
It’s finally time. We move the Eglu to the orchard, our chickens’ playground. We open the door of the chicken run. Our ladies stay inside, but our greedy Faverolle cannot wait to taste their feed and unsuspectingly enters the run. Immediately the three chickens attack. My children are shocked, they did not see this coming! I don’t worry too much since I know they’ll soon sort themselves out and are now strong enough to defend themselves. We just have to give them a few days to get used to each other.
They then take off to discover the orchard, but stay together all the time, and the other chickens don’t come near them. But it is time for them to sleep in the big chicken coop with the other chickens. At night, when it’s already dark, we take them out of their Eglu and put them on a perch in the big coop. The best time to do this is at night when it’s dark, so they won’t start fighting. This way the chickens will also all have the same smell in the morning. We keep the automatic chicken door closed for 2 days. This will enable them to sort out the pecking order and it will give them time to get used to their new home.
The transition actually goes really well. But they don’t let the rooster come near them! They are clearly higher in the pecking order than him! After two days we open the door of the chicken coop and allow everyone outside. The three ladies are slightly hesitant but eventually decide to have a look outside to see what the other chickens are up to. The only problem with the three chickens is that they like to stay out late, after the door of the automatic coop has already closed. My husband takes a flashlight to look for the chickens and puts them in the coop with the other chickens. But we can’t do this every night… We’re going on holiday soon and we want the chickens to go inside the coop by themselves. Instead of putting them in the coop we just manually open the door again when they want to get in. After a few days they enter the coop before the door closes. We can now go on holiday and don’t have to worry anymore!
I notice that since they’ve decided to sleep inside the coop, they’ve really found their place in the group. They even sleep on the highest perch. We notice the amount of eggs has really decreased. We just find one egg per day, which is strange since we hear two chickens clucking. Our youngest daughter decides to keep a close eye on the chickens. After spending half the day in the orchard, our daughter proudly tells us she found out where one of the hens is laying her eggs. There is a hidden nest! A true treasure with seven eggs in it! After removing the eggs and twigs, this hen also decides to lay her eggs in the chicken coop.
Three months later
We split our holiday in two so we can check on our chickens and collect their eggs. There is a fox in the neighborhood, so we are scared every time we come back home. But they’re all still there! We have an automatic poultry drinker, they have plenty of food in their feed bucket, and with all the plums, peaches and apples falling from the trees there’s also more than enough variation! There’s nothing better than a bunch of happy chickens and a bucket filled with colorful eggs. Now all of our chickens are allowed to free range in the garden when we are home. The three ladies are now the most adventurous. Our other chickens never noticed the compost heap but the three ladies have already found it (and they help mixing it a little bit). The only chickens that sometimes enter the kitchen are these three. And when we have dinner outside, one of them will sometimes just jump on the table. They surely provide entertainment!
We are really relieved and also proud the three hens have adjusted so well. It was a difficult summer for the animals. It was really warm and there was no rain to cool them down. But with the right care and some extra attention it all went really well.
The three hens are proud chickens now, and are definitely are part of our chicken family. They are very tame, and they are always the first to come to us so we can pick them up and cuddle them. They are very curious and love colorful shoe laces. Their egg production has stopped because they need all their energy to renew their feathers. We give them protein muffins to help them with this.
Just a few weeks from now they will have beautiful shiny feathers and the only thing that will remind us of their past will be their trimmed beak!
This entry was posted in Chickens on May 17th, 2019 by chloewelch