Sunday, 13 December 2009

Back (for a bit)

Hello, sorry it's been so long.   Had some family things going on and they have been taking nearly all my time and focus for the last month.

So, let me start with an update on all the chooks.

The Garden Girls are doing really well.   The moulting has finished for all of them, except for Milly who seems to be taking a long time to regrow her head feathers.  

Lily and Daisy are valiantly continuing to lay most days; Milly and Jasmine have given up for the winter,   and Delilah has (hopefully) retired completely.

Delilah's feathers are more stunning than ever. This year she is displaying a bluey-black grey feather, with a black face.     She crouched for me today, which was a bit of a shock for both of us. 

Lily and Daisy haven't moulted at all,  and their sparkling white feathers are very grubby...mainly caused by them bathing in the Dustbath while the contents are a bit damp.

Daisy's beak continues to split, and DH is trimming it a little bit every few days to see if we can get it under control.  Now I'm home for a few days, we'll try to mark her beak where the split is, so we can see if it is extending backwards.

The Girls now control about a third of the garden, and it won't be long before they get the rest of it.    DH washed the roof of their walk-in run, which made everything look much better.

On the Allotment The remaining bought-in Dorking girl (Willow, I think) is still moulting, but has nearly finished.  DH lets the two Dorking flocks free range together when he is down there, and they are fine, usually mostly interested in exploring the other flock's quarters.    This week DH mentioned that he had trouble telling the bought-in Dorking from three of the offspring; it was only because she was moulting that he spotted it was her.  We're assuming that the three brown-egg Dorking chicks are hers,  and that Norman is the offspring of the Dorking who sadly died.

The chicks here are now 13 weeks old (except Normy, who is only 11 weeks).

We'll carry on like this for a while,  eventually we'll leave them all together  all the time, but with two henhouses to choose from.  Because there are so many chicks, they are unlikely to be serious issues from Flint - but if there are, they won't have to share the same accomodation.  if we leave it too long, we'll have problems the other way, with Flint and Willow being bullied. 

One of the blue-egg chicks was under the weather a while ago.  We brought her home so we could give her some avipro, and watch her. We were able to check that her poos, although runny and white, were not displaying anything scary like sulphur yellow colouring.   After a couple of days her poos settled down and she looked a bit better, and we decided to put her back with her siblings.  She's now running around as fit as ever.

In Roo's area, all of them are doing well.  They are all about 18 weeks old now, and we're gradually moving them on to Layers pellets.  Roo is enormous and magnificent. His two Sasso girls are absolutely stunning as well, and I'd love to have a Sasso girl in my flock at home.  The two Ixworths are getting very large,  and we're thinking that one is definitely a cockerel.  We'll need to think about taking action soon, as we don't want to start having problems between him and Roo.     The female will stay, and we'll see what Sasso x Ixworth is like.

This group is SO friendly, because (of course) we handled them constantly from the moment they hatched.  We didn't do this with the Dorkings because we didn't want to become any more attached to them than we could help;   in some respects, I wish we had just gone ahead and handled them more as it would make life easier when worming etc. 

I'm at home for some of next week, so I'll try and take some pictures.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Leaving Home. Again.

Norman and his siblings left home last week, and were moved into their new (temporary) accomodation at the Allotment.

The arrival of 7 new young hens caused a lot of interest from the other groups of chickens.  Both Roo and Flint got quite perky as they inspected the newbies.

Norman, of course, managed to escape into one of the neighbouring pens, and had to be retrieved.

The 7 are in a separate area (adjoining both the other areas) and have their own separate accomodation.   They'll stay separate  (Norman permitting) for a couple of weeks so that everyone gets to know everyone at a distance.  Then we'll start the introduction process.   

The plan is that they will all move into the same area as Flint and the single Dorking, and create one flock.    Of course, we still don't know which of the 7 are boys and which are girls. No doubt the other chickens know already.

We'll start with a few sessions of supervised free ranging and see how that goes before we take it any further.  And that won't happen for a week or two.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Dead hen :-(

One of our Dorking Girls died on Saturday night. 

DH arrived at the Allotment, said hello to all the birds, noticed that neither Dorking Girl was out and assumed they were in the nest box, laying eggs.

He sorted out Roo's gang, did the Geese, and then came back to the Doirking pen.  He found one of the girls in the nest box, possibly trying to go broody, and saw the other girl on the perch - dead. 

He phoned me, and checked her over while I was on the phone.  No sign of blood or pecking,  so it wasn't a predator or an attack from one of her family.   He brought her home so I could check her over.  She was a good weight and didn't look anaemic, and there were no signs of pests under her feathers (although I imagine they would all have evacuated by then).   I suspect she had a heart attack, perhaps the violent storms frightened her too much?

We wrapped her up in a soft towel, put her in a cardboard coffin and said our goodbyes.

She was such a pretty little bird.

Monday, 9 November 2009


As my surprise birthday pressie, DH bought me a Ukulele.    I heard a programme on the radio about the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (UOoGB)some time ago, and I went on to listen to the UOoGB Prom.  They were amazing. I had no idea that a Uke could be so versatile.  

I was particularly interested in the audience participation part of the Prom, where the audience had been invited to bring along their Ukes and to join in "Ode to Joy".  Fab.

I thought how great it would be to learn to play a Ukulele so I could join in, should the opportunity arise.    I played the guitar a bit as a child, and I couldn't see it would be much harder than that.

Well. It isn't harder,  but being able to play the guitar (a bit) has turned out to be a real hindrance.   The frets on the Uke are much smaller,  and the chords are different.  So instead of just learning the Uke chords, I have to unlearn the guitar chords.

Progress is slow.  I can play 9 chords now without looking at a crib sheet (C, C7, G, G7, A, A7, D, D7, F) and I am practising my changes.  I've also learned to play the melody for "Ode to Joy", but i'm not mistake free.

And I'd forgotten how sore it makes finger pads.

Still. I'm keeping the Uke in it's (open) case on the kitchen table, so I can pick it up and have a quick play.    On the beginners DVD it says that Ukes need frequent retuning, sometimes between songs.   It's certainly true of one of my strings.

DH told me I need to learn more songs.  Uh-huh.  I explained that, as it's primary purpose is an accompaniment by chord strumming,  it's a bit difficult to hear the difference between one song and another.  

I don't sing. Well, I do attempt to sing while I play, when the house is empty, but it's not a pretty sound.

We'll see how it goes, and whether I carry on or put the Uke in the wardrobe next to the Accordion.

Saturday, 31 October 2009


I was reviewing my bookmarks and deleting the redundant ones.  I came across lots of websites I haven't visited in ages. One of them is Wordle.  You can get Wordle to produce a "Word Cloud" of a series of words,  either words you paste in, or give it a URL and it will do it.  You can then go through numerous style options until you find a shape you like,  which you can then further customise.

The more often a word appears, the larger it is in the Word Cloud.  Very revealing, perhaps!

The picture above is based on my recent blog postings.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Moulting revisited. And beaks.

Delilah's new feathers are starting to appear on her back, although her bottom still looks like PlayDoh's "Barber Shop".

Jasmine has joined her in the Borg-lookee-likey stakes. Jasmine's moult isn't as rapid,  nor is it quite so dramatic, but there are definitely big pbald atches on her body where there used to be feathers.   Her neck has he borg feather shafts but, as they are brown, it isn't as scary as it was with Delilah.

I've been finding some other feathers in the Run as well. They could belong to Jasmine but I suspect they belong to Milly,  so looks like she'll be joining in soon.

Daisy's beak continues to fracture. The Vet showed DH how to trim it with nail clippers, so we've been trying to do this as soon as new growth appears and  the old growth splits.  The hope is that we can eventually get ahead of the weak point, and it'll stop happening.    Or it could be that we carry on like this.  Daisy doesn't like having it done, but she doesn't bear a grudge and lets me catch her anyway.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


I've been learning how to make figures to go on cakes. They don't stand up to close scrutiny (in fact, the Golfer didn't stand up at all, he fell over and snapped his spaghetti stand when we went over a speed bump), but they made my DH and I smile.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Autumn Garden

As I had the camera out, I thought I'd take some close-ups of a few of the plants in the garden.

The LovelyNeighbour's passion flower plant spills dosn our side of the fence.  We love it, and put up some wires to help support it.  

The last flowers are fading now, but are still gorgeous;  and some of the fruits will never ripen...

The roses have nearly finished, although there are a couple of buds around. Can't imagine they'll last long..

And a few other plants are finishing up

Friday, 16 October 2009

Norman. Again.

Norman won't be yellow for much longer. In fact, he'll soon look just like his siblings.

As I had the camera out trying to snap photos of Leelus amazing Borg feathers,  I thought I'd take a few of Norm while he still has some yellow fluffiness left.

Bless him.

The LIttlees are out

Yesterday was a pleasant enough afternoon, so we fenced off the front of the Eglu run and let the Littlees out.  They were tearing around, jumping up and down.  Within seconds, one of them was on top of the run.

Washburn, our ginger cat, couldn't contain his excitement.  He sat on the Eglu run quivering,  while I stood by with the hose discreetly aimed and ready to fire.  We didn't leave him alone with the Littlees, that would have been asking for trouble.

In the meantime, the cheeky Littlee was back on the run again, so DH made a kind of heffalump trap over the top of the fencing, using other bits of fencing and fence posts.

They were out all afternoon. If the weather warms up a bit, we might try leaving them in the Eglu overnight.   Norman is a bit young, but he's well looked after by his older siblings, so he should be OK.   We'll see what the overnight forecase is for the next few days.

Plastic Chicken (updated with photos)

I've been giving the Girls pellet porridge, made with chick crumb and laced with Poultry Spice, for the last couple of cold mornings.    This morning it wasn't too cold, but I wanted to give Delilah something extra, as her moult is getting worse.

I put some cat food (non chicken variety, of course) on a plate and laced it with Poultry Spice.  Then I went and collected Leeloo who, generally speaking, doesn't really subscribt to being collected, even if the reward is Delicious Cat Food.  

Surprisingly, I managed to catch her first time.  Maybe she guessed that there was Cat Food at stake and only wanted to make a token effort at resistance.  When I picked her up, I nearly dropped her.

She she was covered in plastic spines.  As I carried her over to the garden seat and the waiting cat food,  I looked through her feathers. She looks like...a plastic chicken.   She's still very bare,  but now she has rows and rows of thick, steel-grey, plastic spiny things all over her.  It looks like she's forming an exoskeleton with knitting needles.  All over her back,  all down her neck.  

I called for DH to come and look, and while she ate the cat food and I rested my hand across her back, DH had a look.    They are, of course,  new feather shafts.  But they are really scary.

I couldn't risk putting her down to get my camera, I'll try and have it to hand next time.

EDITED TO ADD: I wasn't able to hold Delilah and take pics, so you can only see parts of the feather shafts in these photos - she has her wings covering most of them.

You can see what they are like on the photos of her bottom.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Delilah goes Commando.

Leelu (Delilah) is the last of my original three Girls.  She's a Bluebelle hybrid, and she is gorgeous.  She's pretty much retired now,apart from the occasional kidney shaped, weak shelled, attempt. That's fine. She's been a lovely Girl, has laid well, and I hope she goes on for a long time.

This week she decided to start her moult.  Being a hybrid, she couldn't do it over a long period, a bit at a time. No. She had to shed bucket loads of feathers. Everywhere.  The garden looks like we've been out there having pillow fights.

Again, I don't mind. About the feathers and the mess.  But I don't like the fact that she's so bald.  Her bottom, her lower back, her tummy, under her wings... all bald.   She's still got some feathers on her back, and from the top you would think she was losing just a few.  

The skin doesn't look sore, so I'm assuming it's just a normal hybrid-chicken-fast-moult.

I've been supplementing her normal feed with a bit of cat food (much to Washburn's disgust),  and today I gave her chick crumb made into porridge, with some poultry spice in.  They have Lifeguard Tonic in their water.   

I'm hoping that her new feathers will grow quickly, and I wonder if she'll change colour again.  She was originally a browny-grey,  and after last year's moult she turned steely-grey.

I tried to take some pics of her bald botty, but she's doin the chicken equivalent of a comb-over so you can't really see.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Not quite so yellow

Norman is changing, very rapidly. Every day he's slightly less yellow, although so far his little yellow head still stands out.

Here they are sittting in the sun yesterday, but it was a bit chilly so they all sat together.  (Don't panic, there is a heated pad in the Eglu so they can go in and get very warm if they want to!)

Here he is whispering a secret to one of his sisterbrothers:

And here he is just running around:

He's such a cutie-pops!

They're all lovely, he just stands out because of his size and his colour. Mind you, that isn't going to last. He's now getting stubble on his shoulders and front, so I reckon in a week or so he'll look like the others.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Norman tries his foot at perching

Silly boy doesn't realise he's too young

Caught him on camera this evening...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

How old before they Perch?

Got home (from the Spaghetti Western Orchestra) last night, and took a quick peek at the Littlees (previously known as the Tinies, but are now a bit too big for that name).

I missed the shot of five of them trying to perch on the trough, but managed to catch this one:

 They were very warm as we'd left the light on for them.  When its cooler they all sleep on the ground in a little clump...with Norman right in the centre.


Spaghetti Western Orchestra

I have been waiting for these guys to come back to the UK for years!

A very long time ago, when we were on holiday in New Zealand, we saw an article about them. I think they were performing in Wellington.  They sounded very interesting, but we realised that we had just missed them.

I've kept the NZ newspaper clipping on my Fridge for years,  and I've been to their website numerous times hoping to hear of a UK tour.  

I was SO excited when I saw they were visiting London (and Brighton) this Autumn, and I immediately snapped up tickets for last night at the South Bank Centre.

They were brilliant. It's not just the music,  it's a really enjoyable visual experience as well.  I will never  again be able to eat cornflakes without laughing.

I see from their website that they will be on;
"Later with Jools Holland.
The show will be broadcast on Tuesday October 6th at 10pm BBC 2 and on Friday 9 October at 11.35pm on BBC 2 and BBC HD.
You will also be able see it on BBC i-player
Don't miss them playing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Fistful of Dollars Medley."

If you don't get to see the show live, try and catch them on TV.   

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Norman and the Apple

We're just starting to introduce the Tinies to treats.  Today I tried them with a bit of spinach, which they ignored.  Then, whist they were sheltering in the Eglu,  I put some small pieces of apple in the run.

From nowhere (well, from the Eglu) Norman  came rushing out and grabbed a piece of apple.  He then ran round and round the run with this, what now looked rather enormous, piece of apple in his beak.  He ran past his siblings, he ran around again, and then he ran into the Eglu.

Much later, we noticed that Norman wasn't out with the others. Fearing that I had inadvertently killed him with apple,  I asked DH to go out and open the nestbox to see if he was in there.  DH did so, and Norman ran out into the Run with the apple in his beak.  He then proceeded to run around again, cheeping loudly, and dropping the apple on the ground and picking it up again. This went on for some time, so long that  was able to go and get my camera, lie on the ground next to the Eglu run, and take some pics.

And here are is  one of some of his wonderfully feathered Siblings, onward my brave Hawkmen!*

And here's one of them having a bad hair day

* Very early on, the BlueEggers developed enormous wing feathers, and for ages they looked like Brian Blessed's Hawkmen from the eighties film "Flash Gordon".  Since we realised this, every time I look at them I hear Brian Blessed's cry "Onward my brave Hawkmen".  Helped by the fact that I've had Queen's Greatest Hits in my car CD player for some time now.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Growing babies!

The not-so-Littlees are having a whale of a time at the Allotment.    This meant we could scrub and disinfect the Eglu ready for the Tinees, and we've started started letting then outside onto the grass (within the safety of the Eglu run)  for a couple of hours, if the weather is warm enough.

Getting them back out again was a bit of a challenge.  I forgot that, with the Lttlees, we only put half the run on to start with, so we could reach inside and catch them as necessary.   I tried shooing them into the Eglu so that I could shut the door and get them out through the nest bos - but they weren't having it.  I tried crawling in the run, but it was just too damned awkward.  In the end, I had to herd them to the front of the run, then put a bamboo cane like a limbo bar across the inside of the run.  It toolk them a few seconds to work out that they could easily hop over it or limbo under it, but in those precisous seconds I was able to scoop up a couple of them and remove them.  I repeated this exercise a number of times, until I had all but three of them out.  Then Norman made a break for it, and dashed off, followed by one of his step-siblings who dashed the other way.   

This was rather scary, as we were close by our huuuuge Pampas grass, and if they got in there, I'd never find them again. Not until they emerged as fully grown chickens, anyway.    Fortunately, Norman just ran round tehe edge of the Eglu, so while he made his way back round, I was able to launch myself and "grab" his sibling before he escaped.  When Norman realised that I was waiting for him, he turned round and did that chicky waddle off in the opposite diirection, and I was able to lean over and scoop him up.

It took me nearly thirty minutes in total. Good job I think they are cute.

This morning we discussed whether to shorten the run, but decided against it as there are 7 of them and it wouldn't really be big enough.  Instead, we've taken the run clips off one section, so it opens out like a book. We've re-secured it with Velcro cable ties, so it should still be safe.  And we've taken then rain roof off, as we're only putting them out in good weather at the moment anyway.

They are growing fast. One of the brown-eggers now looks more like hisher blue-egg siblings.  Norman still sticks out like a sore thumb, although hs/e is getting lovely black feathers on his wingtips.

I'll try and take some pics today, in the meantime here's a pic from a week ago

Just done a quick calendar check.
Today, Friday 2nd October:
    The Not-So-Littlees are 8 weeks and 1 day old
    The Tinees are 3 weeks and 2 days old
    Norman is 1 week 6 days old

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Leaving Home

Today's the day that the not-so-Littlees are leaving to go to their new home.  DH is at the Allotment putting the finishing touches to their new Coop, and we'll be taking them there around lunchtime.     They'll be shut in the coop for about an hour to help them imprint that it is home,  before we let them out to explore their new area.

I will miss them. Particularly the Roo.    

I won't miss the constant shepherding of the two Ixworth escapologists back into their run.  They can squeeze through the poultry netting;  the other netting, which has smaller holes, they simply stick there heads underneath and then crawl through.

On the positive side, it means that we can scrub the Eglu, and then make it available for the Tinies to get a bit of fresh air and grass.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Norman NoMates gets some friends

I was telling my brother the story of  TeenyWeeny (our orphan chick,) and he immediately renamed himher as Norman (as in Norman NoMates of course).

Norman is doing really well.  He's very small compared to the others (well, he is a week or two younger!) and he's bright yellow so he sticks out like a sore thumb.

But the Tinies are looking after Norman very well, as you can see:

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Integration update

DH decided to leave the lunar module door open, so TeenyWeeny could get out and see the Tinies, and the TInies could get in.   DH watched, as TW came out and the Teenies went in.

TeenyWeeny seemed to think that the Tinies might be Mum, s/he kept trying to dive underneath them. Some of the Tinies just moved away, others let himher get on with it.  DH kept watch for some time.

He then came back to the house and watched via video.   All seemed well.  At the end of the day, TeenyWeeny was sleeping in the middle of the Tinies.

And this morning, it's been the same.  

Seems a remarkably easy introduction.  Hope it carries on that way - TeenyWeeny is so much smaller than the Tinies. And being bright yellow, he really sticks out!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Integrating a tiny chick - updated

We've put a brick inside the lnar module so TeenyWeeny can see out.  And we've put brick steps on the outside, so the Tinies can look in.

Whenever we go out to see them, the Tiniesa re a long way from the lunar module, all sitting like statues.  Yet when we watch them on the video camera, they are running round, happy as Larry,  jumping on and off the brick steps.

So funny

Integrating a tiny chick

We decided to take a step towards integrating the teeny chick with the Tinies. Obviously he's far to small to be left with them, even though the Tinies aren't really doing very much.  So, we decided to take the bottom off the lunar module, and then stand it in the brooder in the shed.

We cleaned out the Brooder first of all, fresh Aubiose on the floor,  and we moved the main heatlamp over to the side.   This means that the little chick can hear the others, and they can hear him, but he is completely protected from them.

We'll see how that goes until he's bigger, and then decide what to do.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


I don't know if you remember me mentioning that the other Dorking-cross was also broody?  Well, her egg hatched yesterday morning!  

Other Chap (OC) phoned early to say that there was a hatched chick in the broody cage.  DH popped down to see it,  and then later in the afternoon I went down as well to meet the new arrival.

But it wasn't good news.  The poor little chap (or chappess) was cold, and the broody was trying to escape.  As soon as I lifted the lid, she was off...rushing over to join Flint and the other Girl.  The chick was not doing very well.

DH and I had a discussion about what to do.  The ex-Broody was not interested in coming back.  The chick was cold. The other egg was stone cold, so she hadn't been sitting for a while.   We decided the best thing was to bring the chick home and pop himher in the lunar module brooder.

DH cupped the little thing in his hand, I drove....

Anyway, we put the poor little thing in the brooder, and checked on himher every couple of hours.   This morning, he was all fluffy and bright eyed, but looking very lonely.  Actually, I don't think chicks have that sort of expression,  I'm assuming he's lonely.

We're not quite sure what we're going to do with him/her yet.   We might try and integrate with the other 6 dorking/dorking-crosses. There is about a week's difference in age, and we'll need to be very careful how we do it.  We'll see what he's like when he's a bit stronger.

Oh, he's also bright yellow, which was a bit of a surprise, so we're assuming he's reverting to whatever cross made his parents.  Whatever s/he is, s/he is really, really cute,  just like the pics of chicks you see at Easter.

Watch this space!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Ciders and Juice

With our record apple harvest last year, and the successful cider making, we decided that we would invest in an electric mill this year.  New mill was purchased, last year's manual crusher was sold on Ebay,  and we were all set.

One of our trees produced zero apples.    Second tree doesn't have many, third has a reasonable amount but a fraction of the normal yield.  Third tree apples don't ripen for another month.

We decided to visit Cross Lanes Fruit Farm in Mapledurham. They have over 60 varieties of apple (not all at once, of course) including Katy, which Thatchers use for one of their single varietal ciders.   Our more local apple farm has a smaller range, and doesn't have Katy, so we decided to visit them later in the year instead.

We came away with 2x13 kilo boxes of small apples. Predominantly Katy, but with a few other varieties thrown in.    Being small, they didn't need chopping - which speeded up the processing time enormously.   The mill was fantastic.

We now have 3 demijohns of juice to be turned into Cider,  and one and a half litres of very acceptable tasting juice, which we'll drink over the next couple of days.

DH did nearly everything himself.   I just had to pile the washed apples into buckets and weigh them,  and record yield/cost/specific gravity etc etc in a spreadsheet.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Very Sad News

Got a call on my way home yesterday afternoon, to say that OC (other chap) had found a dead chick outside the coop at the allotments. The broody (the first one) had also abandoned the remaining eggs.

The chick was part way through hatching when it had been thrown from the nest. We don't know, of course, whether Mum did it,  whether Auntie (who is also broody) did it, or whether Dad did it.

We brought the other 2 blue eggs home (in my armpits) and put them in the incubator.  The brown egg - which Mum had stolen from Auntie - was replaced under Auntie.  Later on that evening we candled the blue eggs to find hey weren't fertile.  What a shame that the one fertile egg should have been destroyed.

On a more positive note, the three blue eggs in the incubator have all hatched.  They are bigger than the Dorking-crosses (from the brown eggs, remember?) which hatched a couple of days ago, so we're going to pop the in the Lunar Module with the three Dorking crosses as soon as all three of them are dry.

Meanwhile, the Five spent their second night outside in the Eglu, along with a heated pad, and I think we'll leave them out there now.  Next step will be when they are on Growers pellets and can move to their permanent home on the Allotment.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


Last night, the Five stayed outside in the Eglu and run.

In preparation, the night before, we left the light/heatlamp off in the shed, although we did give them a heated pad to snuggle up to.  We had planned on continuing like this for a feqw days until tehy were ready to Overnight outside.  That came a bit quicker than we anticipated.

Firstly, the weather yesterday was really warm, even in the evening. Secondly, we had cleaned out the broody pen. And thirdly, the chicks seemed quite content to settle down in the Eglu run.   We scooshed them into the Eglu last night, and shut the door.  DH got up early to let them out, as they aren't used to being away from food and water.  They seem fine this morning, so we'll carry on like that for now.

Meanwhile we have three very small (and very quiet) Dorking-cross chicks in our lunar module; they'll stay there for a day or two before movign out into the brooder in the shed.  There will be much more to interest them out there., so we're keen for them to move as soon as is safe.

And our first Blue egg has pipped! 

Sunday, 6 September 2009

2 new chicks, and the first 5 go out!

Two of the Dorking chicks have hatched, and the third has pipped.  The 2 are now in the safety of the Lunar Module brooder. Hope the 3rd one gets a move on.

And today we let the Five out of the run into a very small fenced area.  We'll see how they get on - and how the Cats react - and we plan to give them a much bigger area which will include a flower bed to explore.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Here we go again!

The brown eggs (unexpectedly fertile, removed from one of our Dorkings) have pipped.   The first one pipped last night; this morning the first one had a bigger hold and a second one had pipped.  The third one hasn't done anything yet.  All three had chicks in when we candled them last week.

Bit of a problem with humidity in the Incubator. We've had to raise it for the eggs that are hatching, but we can't raise it too much because the other eggs aren't ready.  

I'll post when there is more news.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Funky Punky Chicks - 27 days old

In the last day or two the Chicks have started to develop feathers on their heads and necks. This gives them a wonderful, punky, look.   They are also  starting to "fight" with each other. If they were big Girls that we were integrating, I would describe it as bosom-bumping.

They are very large now, I'm sure they are as big as Milly and Jasmine were when we got them at 11 weeks old.   We're going to section of a bit of flower bed soon so they can have their first free range.     The cats are a bit of a worry here but, despite all the things in their run to amuse them,  the chicks need a bit more stimulation, so it'll be a risk we have to take.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Who's broody now?

The other Dorking hen went broody over the weekend!

It's all getting a bit complicated now, as we have eggs everywhere.

We have the original incubated hatch of 3 Sassos and 2 Ixworths, who are now 25 days old and are occupying the Eglu during the day, and a brooder pen overnight. 

Under one of the Dorkings, we have three Silver Dorking eggs, which are due to hatch next Wednesday (9 September).  Their henhouse is three feet off the ground, so we need to move mum and newly hatched chicks as soon as possible to new, temporary, house which we bought and installed near the original house.

In the Incubator, we have the Broody's original brown eggs  (she's a Dorking cross) which unexpectedly turned out to be fertile (none of the eggs of either broody were fertile up to that point).  We don't know when they are due to hatch, our best guess is today, tomorrow or Friday.  When they have hatched they will move into the Lunar module for a week. Hopefully, by the time these are ready to leave theLunar Module,  the first hatch chicks will be overnighting in the Eglu.     And by the time they are ready to leave the Brooder,  the First Hatchers will have moved to their permanent home on the allotment.  DH just needs to build another coop for them, if we are planning on keeping them. 

Also in the Incubator, we have three more Silver Dorking eggs, due the smore or less the ame time as those under the Broody and we intend to slip those chicks under the broody as soon as they have dried out.   We've had to stop the auto turning of the incubator now that the Brown Eggs are due to hatch, so we're having to turn the Silver Dorking eggs manually for now.

And now we have one or two eggs under the other Broody, no idea if they are fertile or not.  We'll check as soon as we've moved Mum1 out.  Hopefuy the temporary broody house will be vacated by the time her chicks, if the eggs are fertile, are hatched.

It'll be fine.   It'll just need a bit of organising.  And it'll put us in good shape for breeding next year.  We hope.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Chick Pics - 23 days old

The Chicks are now 23 days old.

They are out in the Eglu and run all day, and back in their brooder at night. During the day, I keep a heated Snugglesafe pad in the next box, so they can snuggle up with it if they need to.

It rained heavily a couple of days ago, so I covered the Eglu run to protect the chicks. They aren't really old enough to deal with "rain" yet.

The development continues, and new feathering is appearing all the time. The Sassos are much more feathered than the Ixworths, so we need to be careful to make sure we aren't progressing things just to suit the Sassos.

They adore courgette. They ignored corn on the cob, but this morning one of them must have tried it again and discovered that "mmmm, tastes gooooooood", as they were all fighting over it when I looked out of the window.

I've been out snapping pics...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Judge Dredd and Chicky Adolescence

A couple of the Sassos are starting to look like Judge Dredd. Their shoulder feathers are now really sticking out in a Judge Dredd epaulette sort of way.

The most developed Sasso has also started to get breast feathers.

Weather today is chilly with showers, so I've left them in the Brooder so far. Every time I pop in to see them they rush to be picked up. Not because they particularly want to be picked up per se, but because they have learned that being picked up = going outside to grass.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Dust bathing chicks

One of the Sassos seemed to be having a fit.

As usual (well, for the last 3 days) the Chicks were brought out of the Brooder early in the day to spend the day (or until the weather changes) in the Eglu and Run. They are obviously keen to do this, they are very happy to be picked up out of the brooder each morning.

I watched them out of the kitchen window, and I saw one of the chicks had hisher legs in the air. I went out, concerned that I was to be confronted with a Dead Chick.

But no. By the time I got out there, s/he was on hisher side, and was obviously attempting to dustbathe in the grass.

I went upstairs to rummage in the spare room for a small, shallow, box, and I found one. Added compost and some sand, and put it in the run. The Chicks seized upon it! No dustbathing, but lots of rooking and chicken-Salsa. Trouble was, it was only big enough for 4 chicks to rook, and they were taking it in turns to not be in it. All my other boxes were too deep.

Then I saw a seed tray. That's now in there, and there is plenty of room for all.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Isabelle's new sunbed

Izzy's attempts at getting closer to the chicks whilst pretending not to, took an interesting turn today...

Meet Rita the Meter

We had Rita the Meter installed on Thursday.

We've been considering changing to a water meter for...more years than I care to remember. In theory, we should save money, as the rule of thumb says that if you have less people than bedrooms, you'll be better off. But that rule wasn't designed for people who have very productive gardens.

We have been doing a lot to minimise our water useage - fitting doodahs in the cisterns (with mixed success as I'm sure one toilet doesn't flush properly now); catching the water that we have coming out of the tap while waiting for the hot water to come through, and using it to water the plants; bought an energy/water efficient washing machine, that sort of thing.

Our next door neigbour had a meter installed last year. The bills have been slow to arrive, but she has saved a lot of money. So, we decided to take the plunge. We have 18 months to decide whether to keep Rita or to send her packing, and I wanted to try and include 2 summers in that so we could see what difference the garden makes.

It was relatively easy to sign up to have a meter fitted, but a bit of a faff with the contractors. It took longer than promised to get it installed. In the intervening period we've been practising being even more water miserly. We've fitted one of those water restricting shower heads, which has dramatically reduced the water used in our shower. It took a while to get used to, but now its fine. I do find I spend longer in the shower though - not because I need to, more because I can.

The plumber took quite a long time to fit Rita, which surprised me as she's about the size of a baked bean can and is installed under the sink (we have a shared supply). There isn't a huge amount of room under there. It's a wide enough cupboard, but we have the water softener under there, plus the pipework for 2 sinks, a three-way tap, and a separate hose spray. And a water filter cartridge. And then of course there is The Stuff. You know. Washing up liquid. Cream Cleaner. Dishwasher tablets. Dishwasher Cleaner. White vinegar solution., bin bags... The stuff we use all the time. And the stuff we use occasionally: stailnless steel polish, baby oil, Milton, stove cleaner, bicarbonate of Soda, wasp killer, ant killer, bleach, disinfectant, baby bio, stickystuff remover. It all had to come out.

Eventually the plumber emerged from the darkest recesses of the cupboard and said he'd found it. He had spent 20 minutes trying to fix a leak, which turned out not to be a leakm but to be a split pipe. I apologised for having crap pipework, but it wasn't our pipework, it was his.

Having had Rita installed, I phoned the water company to find out what the cost of water was going to be. I had sort of expected it to be on the literature the plumber provided, but it wasn't. It works out at £1.40 per cubic metre. Our water nill for this year was £310, which means that if we use less than (310/1.40) 221 cubic metres a year. we'll be ahead.

We need to get in the habit of checking Rita before and after a Washing Machine cycle, a dishwasher cycle, etc so we know how much they are costing us.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Chick chaos

The chicks are growing rapidly, and are getting extremely adventurous. A couple of days ago, we had to change from transporting them between brooder and Eglu in a small Trug, to using a very big Trug.

Today, even that isn't big enough!

The weather was supposed to rain, but mid morning it was still dry. We decided to put the chicks out for a bit, and I put a Snugglepad in the run as well, just in case they found it cold (apart from amnything else, if I saw them snuggling, I'd know it was too cold for them).

Isabelle tried to disguise herself as a chair, watching the chicks from the gap at the bottom...

Here she is from the other side

Today, I tried them on peas. They had one pea (specifically un petits pois) each. There was a lot of running around with said pea in beak, but not much eating going on. However, when I checke later there was no evidence of pea in the run.

I've ordered some chick sized grit today from It'll be here tomorrow, and it's necessary as we're starting to give them stuff other than the chick crumb.

The feather growth continues, with much bigger feathers appearing on the shoulderblades.

At about 2pm I was getting ready to take my DgS (who has been staying for a few days) back home, and I needed to get the chicks back into the Brooder.

Sasso 1 came and jumped on my hand. I put him/her in the larger trug, and tried to persuade the others to come along as well. S/he decided it didn't want to be in the trug, and jumped up and on to the side, wobbled a bit, then leapt back into the Eglu run.

So. I knelt down, put my arms in the Eglu run and manged to catch one chick, trug himher, then catch a second. The two in the trug began to cheep. The three in the run cheeped louder. I laid down on the grass, scooshed up, and caught number 3. I had to get in further to get number 4. I had to get almost right in the run, which is not easy when you are a woman of a certain age and ample bosom.

Number 5 managed to run past me and out of the run door. Cursing, I had to wriggle and wiggle myself out of the run. By this time, Chick 5 was running around the Eglu cheeping wildly. I gave chase, hoping that I got to himher before the cats did.

S/he stopped for breath, and for an extra pitiful cheep, and I scooped himher up. I then had a bucketful of chicks, all trying to get out.

By the way, I forgot to mention that the Broody Dorking has accepted the other eggs and is still broody. Fingers crossed she doesn't get bored.