strawberry chicken

Strawberry Chicken

Which came first, the chicken or the strawberry?

strawberry chicken

A Scottish farmer has posted a picture of a strawberry shaped like a chicken. Reuben and April Welch from Grove Farm in Bonnyrigg, near Edinburgh, found the strawberry while harvesting their plants for the Summer. When turned upside down the hull or green top part looks like a nest and a small portion of leaf was attached to look just like a little beak.

The original comment posted on Facebook was:

Going to have to eat this chicken as it hasn’t laid a single bloody egg yet.

The strawchicken has become an internet celebrity with the post going viral across social media and the printed media have now also followed up on the story.

strawberry chicken

Blue hybrid Chicken

Keeping chickens – July tips

A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Hampshire / Surrey smallholding, chicken expert Suzie Baldwin from Hollywater Hens offers her advice and July tips for keeping chickens:

With my four children enjoying their summer break we have more time to provide entertainment for the hens. My sons have been dragging branches into the enclosures, and my daughters have placed compost mixed with Barrier Red Mite Powder in the dust baths. This prevents parasites and has a lovely herbal smell.

Long summer grass can cause problems, not only grounding the power for electric fences, but also forming balls that obstruct a chicken's crop (where they break down their food). So keep grass fairly short and provide grit. Deterring insects is another summer job; spray citronella around the coop and stick fly paper up out of the bird’s reach. Hang bunches of protein- and vitamin-rich dandelions in the run, and blanch and freeze some for the winter. You might find your girls begin to moult towards the end of this month. Growing new feathers can take up to eight weeks, so give them a boost with Battles Poultry Drink.

pink feeders 2

new enclosure 1

Click here for details of Suzie Baldwin's hen keeping courses at Hollywater Hens, and have a look at some more of Suzie's tips for keeping chickens

Merrist Wood College with their certificates of achievement and new Smallholders book

Merrist Wood College

Merrist Wood College with their certificates of achievement and new Smallholders book

We had a fantastic fun evening with Luke from Merrist Wood College and his smallholder group who were all presented with their certificates of achievement. Well done and lovely to meet you all, I hope you all enjoy my new smallholding book x


Merrist Wood is a 400-acre, multi-award winning College specialising in the land-based industries.

The College is widely recognised by industry specialists for its training and for its many successes at RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. Work from the estate is known across the country and in other parts of the world.


What sound does a duck make?

According to Oxford Dictionaries (part of the Oxford University Press) the noises that animals make is different depending on where they are from:

The onomatopoeias used to describe the sound produced by a rooster are comparatively different. In English we would say ‘cock a doodle doo’ (which quite frankly sounds more melodic than any sound a rooster could ever produce). For once, the Germans use a word that is shorter than in English, ‘kikeriki’. A French rooster says ‘cocorico’ and an Arabic-speaking one will sound something like ‘kuku-kookoo’. Whereas the vowels differ in these examples, all of them contain a plosive (/k/). Once again, this is the quality of the sound produced by a rooster translated into human speech: loud and piercing. Another example where this is the case is the different onomatopoeias for the sound of a duck: ‘quack’ in English, ‘coin coin’ in French, ‘cua cua’ in Spanish.

Read the full story at

Abs on the Farm - checking chickens

Country Strife: Abz on the Farm

Abs on the Farm - Abs holding chicken

Swapping city life for the good life on a smallholding

Possibly one to watch...

In a brand new series for BBC Two, Country Strife: Abz On The Farm, former pop-star (5ive) and Big Brother contestant Abz Love will swap the luxuries of his life in the city for the good life, as he and his partner Vicky leave the music business behind them and head to rural Wales to live off the land. Watch as the two novice farmers set about buying and renovating their very own smallholding.

Abz and Vicky are determined to realise their dream of self-sufficiency, but with plans bigger than their pockets and very limited farming know-how, will their ambitions and enthusiasm withstand the harsh reality of living off-grid?

Abz says: 

"Moving to Wales was a complete shock to the system - the house, the chickens, the horses, the foxes, the cats, the splinters, the leaks, the grass, the gates, the fence, the rain. This being said, I have met some wonderful people with beautiful insights - I currently love my life."

Abs on the Farm - checking chickens


Head of Natural History and Specialist Factual Formats Commissioning, Tom McDonald says “Country Strife is a warm, engaging series following a charming, open-hearted couple try to live the good life against all odds – with no knowledge of country life, very limited funds and a series of increasingly outlandish ambitions & plans, Abz and Vicky are in for an often hilarious reality check as they touch down in rural Wales. Through their eyes, the BBC Two audience will get a real sense of what it really takes to make a go of the countryside dream.”

Three half-hour episodes will air on BBC Two later in 2015 (possibly July).

Lamb at Hollywater Hens

Hollywater Hens update from Facebook

Hollywater Hens regularly posts photo updates on our Facebook page.

Here's a quick sample of some resent posts:

Photos of gorgeous Hybrids - they make wonderful pets and lay lots of eggs.

Hybrid Hens at Hollywater Hens

hybrid hens

We have had an exciting few weeks at Hollywater Hens, Ed from The Observer spent the afternoon enjoying all the animals. I had a lovely interview with Bunny from the Telegraph. My new book "The Smallholders Handbook" has been released, we have 2 gorgeous lambs, lots and lots of chicks and more broody hens. Its been lovely to catch up with previous customers and meeting so many new ones. Thanks everyone for all your support and good wishes.

Ed from Observer

lamb 2

feeding lambs

feeding lambs 2

FABULOUS day today, the weather is fantastic and all the birds looking so happy. Great visit from the local Brownies and all my children being lovely ! Long may it last!



"The Brownies had a lovely time, thank you - I think you were lucky to get all the chicks back!!"

"The girls were a real pleasure,if they want to come back we could get them mucking out !"

New enclosures with lots of fun for the girls, my husbands been a busy boy, some might say he's hen pecked x

new enclosure 2



new enclosure 3

new enclosure 1

animal magic article from newspaper

Animal magic in the garden

Garden designer and BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panelist Bunny Guinness wrote a piece in The Telegraph last weekend about Suzie Baldwin’s new book – The Smallholder’s Handbook: Keeping & caring for poultry & livestock on a small scale

“You don’t need acres of space to keep enough livestock to live the good life”

“Suzie Baldwin’s new book The Smallholders Handbook tells you all you need to know to get started. Suzie who is passionate about people discovering the immense satisfaction that comes from producing your own meat, wisely suggests you begin with a few chickens, then perhaps graduate to a few cade lambs* and go on from there.”

Bunny goes on to discuss her and Suzie’s suggestions for sheep, pigs and cows…


The Smallholders Handbook in an article "Animal magic in the garden"


We will add a link to the article in the online edition of The Telegraph as soon as it is available.

* a cade lamb is an orphan lamb reared on a bottle

Chickens for sale at Hollywater Hens in Hampshire

Keeping chickens – June tips

A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Surrey / Hampshire smallholding, Suzie Baldwin offers her advice and June tips for keeping chickens:

With increased daylight, all our jobs around the smallholding are getting done. Unfortunately, however, 
the foxes are rather active so
 checks on the electric fencing and wire runs are being done regularly. Two of my Buff Orpington
 hens are sporting saddles to protect them 
from the cockerel's 'treading', as he's very amorous in June. Even though we trim his
 spurs, they can damage the girls' backs.

Click here to

Smallholders handbook

The Smallholders Handbook – now available

Now available - chicken expert Suzie Baldwin's new book "The Smallholder's Handbook: Keeping & caring for poultry & livestock on a small scale"

You can order from Amazon and we also have them in our Hollywater Hens shop at our smallholding on the Surrey/Hampshire border.

Smallholders handbook 300

Suzie Baldwin grew up on a farm in Devon where, from an early age, she cared for a menagerie of animals. These included chickens, sheep, ducks, horses and even ferrets. She has kept chickens for more than 20 years and has recently moved to her own Hollywater Hens smallholding on the Surrey/Hampshire border.

The Smallholder's Handbook is a detailed manual to start, plan and manage your own smallholding. Suzie explains the level of work involved, how much space you need and how to prepare your land. There are chapters on keeping poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese), as well as pigs, goats, sheep, cows and bees. She also explains why having a variety of animals makes the best use of your resources and how many of each type to keep. Comprehensive advice includes choosing breeds, transporting, feeding, housing, daily care and wellbeing, as well as international legislation that applies to livestock.