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.