First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Graham and I have lived on Skye for almost 19 years now. My partner and I moved to Skye from the Manchester area in 2004. We have 12 flocks in all, ranging from bantams all the way up to Brahmas and to complete the scene, we also have 2 Buff Sebastopol geese, 2 White Sebastopol geese and 1 Grey goose (Gordon is now 17 yrs old) and last but not least 35 Guinea Fowl.
We started out keeping hens in 2004. Our first flock was half a dozen Lohmann Browns, these hardy little souls came through the Great Storm of January 10th 2005 relatively unscathed.
From this small scale beginning, we have slowly over these 19 short years (funny how the years fly by when you get beyond middle age) built up a sizable collection of characters. It’s only by keeping hens yourself that you realise how different each bird is. Every one has their own little idiosyncrasies that you learn to recognise over time. Some of these habits are very endearing, whilst others annoy the hell out of you!
When we first arrived here back in February, 2004, there were no trees. This was one of the first things we tackled. All told, I estimate we must have planted near 500 trees. Not all have survived however, the usual climate here (especially in winter) is damp with strong winds. Most of the trees have a distinct lean, away from the prevailing south-westerly winds. Add to that a peaty soil which is poor in nutrients and often very stony, means that any plant has to fight to survive. After 2 or 3 years of trial and error, we now know what tolerate the conditions. With trees the successful ones seem to be Alder, Swedish Whitebeam, Willow (various) but especially goat or crack willow (salix caprea).
Herbaceous plants vary in their ability to tolerate high winds and salt spray, but hardy geraniums are high on the list, as are welsh poppies, lupins, bog primulas, day lillies, the list goes on. Most of these only do well if given some shelter though. Hardy shrubs include, fushias, berberis (b.darwinii is evergreen and has lovely orange flowers in spring), clematis montana, wild shrub roses (scotch burnet, rugosa), phormiums, escallonias and olearias.
You can make a very effective wind break with phormiums. The one to go for is phormium tenax, it can grow to over 6 feet in height and has a width of around 4 feet eventually. Plant around 4 to 5 feet apart and in time your poultry will have all year round shelter. The same can be said for rosa rugosa, makes a splendid hedge and the white or crimson flowers are a bonus.
Don’t forget you can post a comment any time, on any of the posts and pages on here. You can also register, which enables you to post your own experiences of living and working with poultry. One other thing to mention, many of the photographs on this web site have larger close-up views, if you hover your mouse over a photo you will see that it becomes clickable, just click the original thumbnail photo and you will be taken to the larger version.