Headline photo

Headline photo
Rockcliffe and Kippford from South Glen Brae: Ed Iglehart [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Introductory text

Kippford and Rockcliffe are on the East Stewartry Coast, an unspoilt National Scenic Area with two other NSAs in close proximity. It is in Dumfries & Galloway, South West Scotland, a region known for it's wonderful scenery, biodiversity, turbulent history, smugglers and black and white 'belted' cattle known as Galloway Belties. This stretch of coastline has many names. Known locally as the Colvend Coast or the 'Secret Coast' (due to the peace and tranquility) it is often referred to as the 'Scottish Riviera' due to it being the holiday resort of choice for Victorian millionaires and having a Gulf Stream influenced microclimate: evidenced by palm trees in some gardens. Castle Douglas, the food town is a short drive away and Kirkcudbright, the Artists Town is over the next headland.

This a scenic and unique part of the world and we started the blog to share the experience of living in this wonderful place. We hope that it will be of interest to others who live here and give those planning to visit the area a taste of all it has to offer.

The blog has a correspondent in both Kippford and Rockcliffe village, you can also follow their Twitter feeds on the right of the page. If you would like to get involved we look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Living the dream...

As anyone who watches Kirsty and Phil as they relocate city folks to the country will know, it seems everyone dreams of a rural idyll where they can keep hens. We were no exception and started our little flock about three years ago. Keeping hens was something I had always fancied despite having an illogical and  weird fear of birds ( Could it have been seeing the  the movie 'The Birds' at an impressionable age that brought it on?) so it was perhaps, an strange decision. 

But not so, there has been a huge surge in demand for locally produced food; after all, what could be more natural than keeping your own chickens and collecting their eggs? So for us at Millbrae House running a B&B it seemed like the right decision. After all Bed & Breakfast is synonymous with fresh, home reared eggs.

"Henkeeping - Inspiration and practical advice for would be smallholders" from Country Living and the National Trust.
A friend bought me a copy of a brilliant little book "Henkeeping - Inspiration and practical advice for would be smallholders". This quirky little book with old fashioned illustrations  advises on all aspects of chicken keeping, from advice on the full range of breeds available, choosing and buying the right chickens for you, to feeding and naming them and finally housing and caring for them. I devoured it, and spent ages choosing my 'dream 'team. 

Friends urged me to rehome battery hens which from a humanitarian angle appealed to me and I was sorely tempted but, having avidly devoured  the pages of Country Living Magazine I wanted 'fluffy' hens.

Within a day our first three hens Madge, Muffin and T2 ? ( dont ask ) were eating out of our hands and following us around the field. Their curious nature gets the better of them, even when I'm cleaning the hen house they pop in and out just in case they are missing out on something and give your cleaning work a quick inspection to check standards are kept high.

Our first Black Orpington, Bramble (with her wide berth and ungainly gait) looks like a aircraft carrier struggling down the runway - attempting to take off but never quite making it. Her first eggs never made it to the kitchen as she would lay pale almost opaque small eggs and promptly stomp on them as she rose from the nesting box. I always felt she was saying "you are not having that one". She's obviously got the hang of it now as she now leaves them intact.

Our two latest hens (brought by Santa) have settled in well though naturally at the bottom of the pecking order being the latest to join our increasing flock. Their vast size is at odds with their soft docile nature being a Buff Orpington and a Speckled Sussex named Butterball and Myrtle. Each hen, has as the books say, have  a different personality and having seven different colours and breeds. it's lovely to watch them forage around the field. 

I never tire of the joy of collecting the different array of eggs all individually coloured and sized almost like there own signature. Its like finding little individual gifts.

A bowl of fresh Millbrae House home produced, free range eggs. 'Little gifts' courtesy of Myrtle, Butterball, Autumn, T2,  Bramble, Magorious and friends. (You can tell the kids named them!)
After a scarcity of eggs over the Winter months Spring has arrived here at Millbrae House and we are up to four eggs a day so our own fresh, free range, golden yolked beauties are back on the menu. Longer days and more sunshine mean more and more eggs for our guests – pass the frying pan.


  1. I agree - keeping hens is good fun! we 'adopted' 3 girls - Celine, Bette and Dolly - from a local egg producer (saving them from the freezer at the end of their commercial life) when we had our B&B near Wigtown. They kept our guest fairly well supplied with yummy eggs. Sadly Bette passed away just before we moved, but the other two live on in our back garden here in Dalbeattie, and, although their egg-laying days are pretty much over now, they are still valued family pets, and keep us entertained with their antics!

    1. Thank you for your comments. Its good to hear that your hens ended up with a caring home and lovely to hear other peoples hen stories. Our friends recently saved several battery hens and after a couple of months freerange they looked healthy and fit.This lovely warm weather the last few days has encouraged laying and our flock have started dust bathing which I find a comical sight.