Monday again already. It’s dark as I unlock the farm gates at 5am. The temperature’s around 2 or 3 degrees, but it’s feeling really cold because of the strong North Easterly that’s blowing. Despite this and the time, some of the birds are already up and singing away, which lifts the soul and lets you know that Spring isn’t too far away.
First job of the day is to check all the chickens housed in different locations all around the farm in large mobile chicken houses. I decide to walk from shed to shed so as not to risk getting the 4×4 buggy stuck in any of the many ruts that are all over the farm. The winter has been long and wet and it has been increasingly difficult to get to the sheds with the egg buggy or ‘manitou’ that we use to get all of the feed out to the hens. The result is mud and ruts.
I go into every house, check the birds have food and water and that the nest boxes have opened. I walk all around spending time just observing the hens, making sure all is OK in their world. By 7.30 all the checks are done – no dramas this morning, just a light bulb to replace.
Grab a mug of tea and some food before the rest of the team arrive on site. Touch base with Jon, one of our delivery guys, and make sure he has enough eggs to get out with on his Monday round.
Next I calibrate the grader to check that it’s weighing the eggs correctly into the XL, L, M and S bands, organise the first batch of eggs for grading and ask two of the lads, Luke and Tomas, to start. The others start to go around letting the birds out and then collecting the eggs. I ask them to double-check the fence around one field where last week we had foxes break in by digging under. Fortunately we only lost three birds, but they’re constantly looking for ways in, smart critters that they are.
The rest of my morning is spent helping out on the grader. Zita, a mainstay of our packing shed, is on holiday, so we are going to be extra busy. Duncan is busy on the phone sorting out the orders.
Short break for lunch followed by a foray into my office. Becky, who does all the accounts, is there sorting out some statements for customers. Check my email, then look despairingly at the piles of paper representing things to do. Quickly ‘fire fight’ the most urgent, order the chicken feed for next week and wonder when we are going to get our new invoicing system up and running. Leave my office before I get too frantic and depressed and head back to the packing shed. The sun comes out and it’s almost joyous.
See Henry and sort out a list of spares we need to get ordered. He reckons he can repair a couple of old feeder motors, which is a bonus. Spend some more time helping to grade, then see Luke who has just completed the afternoon checks around the hens. All OK apart from one feeder line playing up. Make a mental note to ask Henry to change the motor tomorrow. Check the feed delivery tickets, then talk to Stefan about how we are going to start tidying up the ruts all over the farm. Another few days of dry weather and we may be able to make a start in some places.
By 4.45 pm, everybody is in the shed helping and we have managed to get the grading done. We finish off and load the van for the deliveries to London tomorrow. Finish just after 5, so send everyone home except Graham who stays to tidy up in the shed before he starts to shut the chickens up in their houses for the night, which he can only start to do at dusk in just under an hour. Then its the gym, and home for me.