Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Worming Time!

It's time to worm the Garden Girls.   

I use the Flubenbet-on-bit-of-grape method, and do each Girl individually.  Every day, for 7 days.

Lily and Daisy are fine. They don't mind being picked up, so it's over in a second with them.  Delilah and Millie, however, most strongly object to the indignity of being picked up.  A "chase" around their paddock ensued (twice, once for each girl), made much longer than necessary by the cherry tree.  They have learned that if they run around the tree, I can't catch them.

I should probably clarify that I don't run after the Girls. That just gets them scared,  and gets me shattered.  I walk after them, trying to back them into a corner somewhere, where I can then pick them up.  It's all in slow motion, but ir's remarkably tiring.

Anyway, today Millie and Delilah were Having None Of It, Thank You.   So, I went inside, defrosted some sweetcorn kernels (in a cup of hot water), and then recaught the other two, giving them sweetcorn while they were in my arms, in full view of everyone else.  Then I caught the DOrking girls, and they got sweetcorn.   Then I tried again with Millie.

Once more, she chased around the cherry tree and then she ran as fast as she could into an area which she normally avoids because capture is inevitable.  And sure enough, I managed to corner her easily.  She was rewarded with corn, and with a laced grape, and then put back.  And I returned to the fray once more, for Delilah.
Delilah is an aged and big girl, and I'm always partially afraid that she'll have a heart attack from the exertion of running away from me.   Still, needs must.  And she ran into the same area that Millie had headed for.   

Hmm. Perhaps they just wanted to put on a show of resistance,  just for face saving?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Norman's strange behaviour

It started with Norman "attacking" me.

No, thinking about it, it actually it started some time ago, when we still thought Norman was a boy, and Captain Flint was in charge.  When Flint was attacking DH, Norman also had a bit of a go.  We thought, of course, that he was a little Rooster-let and was just emulating his dad.Of course, now we know that he's a girl, this behaviour seems a bit odd.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, by which time we'd had egg-shaped evidence that Norman was a girl.  I walked into the run in the garden, and Norman came running over to me. I thought this was quite sweet, and unexpected.  It wasn't sweet, and the unexpected thing was that Norman started pecking my legs.  Vigorously.  In a "i'm dominant to you" kind of way.

It did hurt a bit,  but I felt for Norman.  He (sorry, I can't get used to referred to Norm as "she") seems to be bottom of the 3 chooks, and I think Mrs Flint gives him a really hard time.

Today he escaped from the Run, by leaping onto the contraption we've put over the Eglu to prevent them using it as a way to escape, more times than I can remember.  Each time, he tootled past the french window; each time I saw him, caught him, and put him back. And rearranged the contraption.

Each time I picked her up, s/he snuggled on to my arm, using it as a comfy perch. This from a bird who attacks me?

The last time though, he snuck past. I expect he had been watching Daisy, and had learned to limbo (Daisy looks like she's on hydraulic legs when she limbos); he must have limbo-ed along, just below the level along the sill of the french window. Either that or he waited just by the window until I got up to put the kettle on, and tipclawed past then.

I only realised he was out because the Garden Girls decided to simultaneously voice their indignation that one of the Incomers was free.  I looked up, and saw him creeping along the corner of slightly-raised paving that we refer to as "The Terrace" (only to differentiate it from "the Patio" which is the paved area outside the living room).  I rushed out into the garden, manouevred myself around the chicken netting, - no mean feat at the moment, it's a maze out there -  and reached the Terrace.  Norman was busy right in the corner,   making himself a nest out of leaves.  He was quite distressed at being picked up, and I realised he must be desperate to lay.

I put him in the Eglu - I mean IN the Eglu, itself -  but he wouldn't settle in the nestbox. He was running around and around, then he came outside, went back in, came outside, went back in.   I opened the eggport so I could see what was happening, and he bit me. Yes. he bit me.  It was a chickeny bite, so there weren't actually any teeth involved. But it wasn't a peck. He got some of my hand flesh between his top and bottom beak,  and then closed the beak together.  In my book, that's a bite.

The poor boy girl chook was obviously in a bit of a state, and I couldn't see why. I assume that it was something to do with the other two, although they weren't doing anything as far as I could see.  Anyway, I did the only sensible thing I could think of. I shut the Eglu door so he was completely shut in. And they were shut out.

A short time later,  I peeked in, and there was a teeny weeny Norman egg.
Norman looked a lot happier, and didn't try escaping again all afternoon.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Learned behaviours

Pogo and Siouxsie started laid their first eggs while they were here in our garden.   They snuggled into the Aubiose in the Eglu nestbox,  picked out a few bits of poo,  and purred happily.

Mrs Flint, Norman, and BlueRing were already in-lay by the time they got here.  Yesterday evening, Mrs Flint wanted to lay an egg, and she proceeded to excavate much of the Aubiose out of the nestbox, and then she pancaked herself into the shape of the nestbox.   We put the Aubiose back in.

This morning, Norman is in there laying,  and she (I can't get used to referring to Norman as "she") proceeded to excavate.

Nurture, not nature then.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Thunderbolts and Lightning....

...very very frightening....

I hope Pogo and Siouxsie are all right on the Allotment.    It might be a bit much for them - rehomed, to a coop with a ladder, and then suddenly lashings of rain, deafening thunderclaps,  and shocking lightning bolts.

DH is en route to check them,  he left before the sudden storm started.
I hope they manage to get themselves to bed....

Sussex Chicks Pics

While I had the camera out to snap pics of Norman, I thought I'd try and capture some of the Chicks.
Day 11.....

(Rhode Island peeping out from under the Electric Hen)

 (Rhode Island and one of the Light Sussex)

(Rhode Island squaring up to the camera)

(Light Sussexes snuggling under "Mum")


Norman ("Norman NoMates") was the single chick offspring of one of our original two "DorkingX" girls.  She abandoned him shortly after he hatched, and we brought him home and saved him.  We then had to put him in Mrs Flint's (the other DorkingX) chicks, who we'd hatched in the Incubator and who were 2 weeks older than him.

Norman stood out for the whole of his time here. He was 2 weeks younger than everyone else, and was always bright yellow.  However, he didn't realise that he was younger than his siblings, so he grew up to be a feisty little thing.

And he turned out to be a girl.

She's one of the three girls we've brought home (so Pogo and Siouxsie can get used to the Allotment coop in peace). I've taken the opportunity to get some quick pics of Norman, because she's still very different to her sisters.

Here is Norman as a Chick:

(Norman is the Blonde on the left)

And here's Norman now, both on her own and with one of her half-sisters:

(Norman is the blonde at the front!)


We've only just finished the butter I made back in January  (when the wholesaler was selling off nearly-out-of-date cream at a bargain price)- in fact, I'm about to spread the last of it on a home made currant bun.  So, yesterday, I trundled off to Costco to buy a load of cream to make some more.  I ony bought 5 litres this time.

I've just finished potting up and labelling.  I've made just over 6.5 pounds (I know it's odd mixing my measuring systems;  the cream is sold by the litre,   and I weigh the finished buttwr in imperial because I add 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of butter.     I also had just under 2 litres of buttermilk. I kept back 1.1 litres (as much as my Lock N Lock fridge jug holds), and the rest went down the drain. I know its a waste, but I just won't use that much.
The butter is now stacked in the fridge and, when it is suitably chilled, I'll transfer most of it to the freezer.

Well, helloooooo

Roo *so* reminds me of Leslie Phillips.

Earlier, we had the three Allotment girls in a box, and ths box was placed (temporarily) in Roo's pen while we were messing about with Pogo and Siouxsie.

The box has very big air holes - more like small windows - so the Girls were able to peep out. Norman had her head right out at one point.

LeslieRoo realised that the box contained Girls, and he sidled up to it in his best Rooster Gentlemanly manner, and began making those courtship movements that cockerels do when they meet a new Girl.

I could almost hear him saying "Well, hellooooooooo".

We moved the box as soon as we realised, as it isn't fair on him or the girls to tease.     He wasn't too bothered, as by then he had spotted two apparently *brand new* girls in the pen next door.     DingDong!

Maybe he's more Terry-Thomas than Leslie Phillips?

Chicken Swap

So, today was the day we decided to take the first step in reintegrating Pogo and Siouxsie back into the Allotment flock.

About 10am today we popped them into a box and went to the Allotment.  We left them in the box while we did a skip out of the DorkingXs' coop, and while we waited for one of the Allotment Dorkings to lay an egg.  We fed the geese and did other general stuff while we waited.

As soon as the Coop was free, we put Pogo and Siouxsie in there and shut them in.   DH then managed to catch the three Allotment girls, and put them in the box.

We then opened the coop, and watched as Siouxsie attempted the ladder (she hopped down two steps then flew off it),  followed by Pogo who sort of slithered down.  At the bottom, they started digging and scratching immediately, so they seemed OK.

We finished up with a quick cuddle of Roo and his ladies,   distributing a Lettuce and some Swede to each run,  and then came home.

Eglu was moved slightly (so the Run wasn't on the same ground as that used by Siouxsie and Pogo), and we popped the 3 Allotment girls inside.   When DH finished arranging the fencing, and I had refilled the feeder and grit box, we let them out.    They're very happy to see so much grass.

We'll pop back to check on Pogo in a couple of hours, and we'll go back yet again to make sure that she got into the coop OK.

And in a few days (or a week), we'll take this lot back and see how they all get on together.
Can't be much longer than that, as we're going to need the Eglu for the Sussex chicks soon!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Electric Mummy (Day 10 in the Chick House)

The chicks really seem to like the Electric Hen.

We've still got the heat lamp on as well at the moment, on low,  so we can gradually acclimatise them to the change.

It's day 10, and they now have well developed shoulder feathers.  The Rhode Island also has a teeny tiny tail,  I hope that doesn't mean s/he's a he as that doesn't fit in so well with what is required.  He's very adventurous, and seems to not mind being picked up - he often breaks from the crowd when we go into the shed, and looks up at us. I like to think he's asking to be picked up, but I suspect that really he's just trying to do a chick stand-off.

I can't take pics with the webcam at the moment, so I'll get round to taking my camera in the shed in the next day or two and will post some pics soon.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Chicks Day 8

The chicks now need a bit of stimulation.  We've removed the inner cardboard circle from the brooder,  and we've put some pieces of wood in for them to jump over, stand on, sit in between.

The Electric Hen arrived today, so DH has put that together and we'll put it in the brooder tomorrow.   I've realised it means we won't be able to see the chicks (if they are under it) on the webcam. Oh well.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Chicks, Day 6 UPDATED

They are growing up so fast!

They spend much of their time alternating between eating and sleeping,  and we can see changes in their wing feather development just in the space of a couple of hours.

As well as doing a full clean out yesterday morning, I wiped the floor clean at least twice.  It doesn't look like it at all!

Our Electric Hen hasn't arrived yet. I phoned the company concerned yesterday, and was frustrated to hear that they hadn't yet sent it because one of the other items in the order wasn't available.   I had specifically said that if the item concerned didn't arrive on Wednesday, could they send the rest of the order as we needed the Electric Hen.   It won't be here until at least Monday now.

The chicks need a bigger area, they can't wait until Monday, so we're going to need to put them out with the heat lamp.  Not the end of the world, but we really didn't want to change the heating method part way.

UPDATED 2.30pm
They are now in the brooder pen in the shed, fast asleep.  We didn't want to freak them out, so we put a cardboard riing inside the circular pen, to create a kind of pen-within-a-pen.  This is slightly bigger than the lunar module, and we'll leave it in there until we see them moving around a bit more. 

I'll post pictures later. The light is a bit too bright for the webcam at the moment, because they are in a pen-within-a-pen.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Chicks, Day 5

Just cleaned out the chicks this morning. We should have done it yesterday afternoon, but our attention was on Jasmine.

Anyway, their Brooder is all clean and sparkly now.

Their wing tip feathers are coming through prominently. I've been trying to take a snap with the webcam to show you... this is the best I have so far. Can you see the teeny-tiny proper feathers appearing on the ends of the wings?
Here's another photo, take a look at the one at the back...

Pogo, update

Took Pogo to the Vet today.
She's putting weight on her lame leg, and is hobbling rather than pogo-ing. But we noticed that her foot was twisted in,  and we wanted advice from the Vet on the prognosis.

The problem is with her tarsal, and she will always be lame and have trouble walking.  How well she'll cope with life, ladders, and a lusting cockerel, only time will tell.  She may be fine in those regards, she might not.    Everything else about her is fine. She's eating well, looks bright, her poos are perfect - she helpfully provided a sample on the Vet's table,  and she's started laying.

So, she's back in with her sister (who made a complete racket from the moment Pogo was taken out to the moment Pogo was put back), and we'll leave her in the Eglu in the garden for a week or so to give her time to rally get adjusted to her leg.     Once she is stronger,  we'll try putting them both back in with the other 3 allotment girls, and we'll see how she manages there. 

We don't have a cockerel in with them at the moment, so we can see how she deals  with normal daily life - the ladder to climb and her possibly-unsympathetic sisters and mum.  If that all goes OK, we can see about reintroducing a cockerel. Eventually.

I did consider keeping her with our garden girls, especially as Jasmine's untimely death has given us a vacancy.  But she'd still have a ladder to climb,  and our FOUR girls are likely to be even less tolerant than Pogo's sisters.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Jasmine RIP

Jasmine, our Welsummer, is very ill. I don't think she'll last the night.

She was fine yesterday, eating and ranging vigorously as normal.  Today, she was just standing still.  I picked her up, and knew she wasn't right as she didn't really try and run away.  Brought her it's likely to be a digestion problem - most probably she's eaten or ingested something.
Have appointment at Vets tomorrow morning.  In the meantime I tried syringing water laced with Avipro (a probiotic) into her, she didn't want it;  and I tried offering her a little mash made with chick crumb.    I put herb ack outside, and she settled herself by a flowerpot and sat quietly all afternoon. 

Just before it was time to put everyone away I tried again unsuccessfully,  with the syringe; and then I carried her and placed her in the nestbox.

Went to see her a few minutes later, after shutting everyone else in their respective Runs,   and she was very floppy with her head back.    Discussed with DH whether we should dispatch her, but she doesn't seem to be suffering, she just seems to be drifting off.  We decided to leave her where she is, rather than hoiking her out and putting her in a box, although we'll check again during the course of the evening.  If she's still with us before bedtime, we'll consider bringing her in and putting her in a box.   I know I'm anthromorphosising chickens, but I think its better for her to be in familiar surroundings, with her friends about her.

Poor daft bird.  

17.40 Update: She's gone.
At least her last day was spent in the sunshine. RIP Jasmine.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


The brown chick isn't a Light Sussex, it's a Rhode Island Red.

I emailed the seller to ask if it was possible if it was something else and, if so, if she had any idea what it might be.  I explained it didn't matter, the chick would bekept and loved no matter what.

She said if it was brown, it would be a Rhode Island Red,  she keeps those in the pen next to her Sussex, and the egg must have got put in with the Sussex eggs by mistake.

These things happen, so there's no point being upset.  One of  the members on  the Omlet forum hatched some Silkie eggs last week, and three of the four turned out to be Transylvanian Naked Necks instead!  Gorgeous birds, and adorable chicks,  but not what she was after.

And a Rhodey means the chick is from a completely different bloodline, so  R and C can experiment with offspring, if they should want to.

Wonder if it'll be a he or a she?

Pogo update

Well, Pogo is using her bad leg a reasonable amount. She hobbles now, instead of hops, which is progress.   WHat we can see, though, is that her foot is at a bit of a strange angle, making it difficult for her to walk without treading on her said foot.

I'll phone the Vet in a moment and get an appointment for tomorrow or Friday.

And she laid her first egg today! Teeny tiny, very speckled.

Chicken Fluff

Well, the brooder has been scrubbed, disinfected, and put back together, and the chicks are back inside.  We had a look at their wings as we put them back in, as the comparitive length of the primary and secondary feathers is meant to be an indicator of sex.

No idea if it's true, but if it is we reckon we have 5 girls and 3 boys. 

The remaining 2 eggs have shown no sign of hatching, so we've dismantled the incubator now.   This gives us a bit more space, so we've turned the Brooder around so that it has it's back to the window (instead of its side) and we've been able to open the window to let some fresh air in.  

When we dismantled the incubator to clean it, we were really shocked  at the fluff under the floor plate. My goodness, how can 8 chicks cause so much dander in just 24 hours, especially as they are soggy for a large part of that time! 

The incy will be scrubbed and disinfected, and then put to one side ready for use again when we put some of the hopefuly-fertile Sasso eggs in in a few days time. 

I'm really, really, really tempted to slip a couple of other eggs in we've got it on.  But I've said that I'll wait until we have a space in the Garden Run before I add any more girls there.

Days 2 and 3

Day 2, and the chicks spend a lot of time moving around inside their lunar-module brooder,  eating, drinking, sleeping, pooing.... They still fall asleep in a instant, wherever they happen to be.  Yesterday, four of them fell asleep standing in their food tray.

Their new mum and dad came to see them and to have a little cuddle.  We are making sure we handle them all, as we want them to be very tame. 

Here's a pic from Day 2 evening:

This morning, they need cleaning out.  The Module is designed so that the poo falls through the grid onto the Aubiose-covered floor below.  Cleaning that bit out is very straightforward.       

What is a bit more tricky is that a lot of poo sticks to the grid itself,  and food gets trodden in.   For this reason, they'll need cleaning out once a day while they are in there.

At the moment, all they are really doing is sleeping and eating.  Soon, they'll need a bit more stimulation though,  and for that reason we're getting the bigger brooder pen ready.  This  will give them more space and, as they grow and theur feet deveop, we can put things in to add interest. 

We're going to try using an "Electric Hen" this time, instead of the heat lamp.  (Although we'll have the lamp inm position, just in case).  That should arrive in the next day or two, and then we'll be ready.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Bounce Bounce Zzzzzz

One second they are all running around inside the brooder, then next it looks like they've been unplugged and they doze off wherever they are standing or sitting.

Then they do that head jerk thing...the head gets lower and lower, then it drops and they wake up briefly.

Chick TV.

2 Duds, 2 unsure

All 8 chicks are now in the lunar-module brooder.  They'll stay in there for a couple of days, and then we'll move them to a bigger brooder pen.

We candled the remaining 4 eggs.  1 looks like it wasn't fertile;  1 looks like it had been fertile but is less than half full, so we assume  the embryo died fairly early on.  We've taken those two out.

The remaining 2 eggs are fertile andwith large embryos, but possibly not as big as they perhaps should be at this stage. However, it is possible that they might just be a bit behind the others so we'll leave them in the incubator for another day or so and see what happens.  It would be good to have more, but we're actually  pleased at 8 out of 12.

The little chicks are all fluffed up now and look like the toy chicks you get at Easter.

Straight Eight

This morning we had 7 chicks hatched, and one poor little mite who had been stuck partially hatched since last night.

Following Katie Thear's advice, we soaked a cloth in some sanitised water, wrapped him in it (being careful to keave a gap so he could still breath), to try and soften the by-now very papery and dry membrane.  We then removed a bit more shell, and found the membrane still very dry.  We soaked it some more, peeled a little more off, and then put him back in the incy.

While this was happening, DH transferred the first 5 chicks into the brooder, leaving the 2 latest chooks in the incy as they needed to dry a bit more and they would continue to provide encouragement to Sticky and to the as-yet unpipped eggs.

45 minutes later Sticky had made a little more progress but was still stuck.  He was also exhausted, poor wee thing.  So we did another round of damping and a bit of peeling,  and then suddenly he burst into life and was kicking for all he was worth,

We popped him back in the incy,  and waited. 

And watched.

I find it surprisingly painful to watch,  my heart strings get pulled as the poor exhausted chicks try and emerge from their shells. WIth this little one it was even worse than usual.

One final heave and he was out. And like all chicks he lay splayed out, looking as though the effort had killed him.

But it hadn't.

8 out,  four to go.  We'll candle them later when we move these three into the brooder.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

High Five

Number 5 emerged a little while ago.

We've rearranged the remaining eggs as they were getting really biffed about.  Two more have definite pipping (we can see the little beakies); one has possibly pipped but it could be a chip from the scuffling.

II'll be back when there is news.

Now we are three

The third chick, who was actually the one which pipped first, finally emerged.  He was "helped" by Number 1 chipping away at the shell.

The three of them are busy clambering over each other, pushing the other eggs around, and then falling asleep on the spot.

Number 2 is through

Number 2 has emerged.  
S/he spent some time recovering from the effort of breaking through the shell. I find that bit really difficult, as they always look as though they have died from exhaustion.   
It was a bit tricky to get a picture because Number 1 kept getting in the way. Anyway, here's number 2:

Chick pics

Here's a pic of the first hatchling. He's a few hours hold and is already reasonably dry. He's busy moving about the incubator,bashing into his brothers and sisters eggs, trying to wake them up.

You can see the cracked shells where some of the others are getting ready to emerge.

And here's one of him/her a few minutes later, dozing against one of the eggs:

New Chicks on the Block

The Sussex eggs have started hatching!

Last night, before we went to bed, three of them ad pipped. This morning, we had one chick totally  emerged from a completely differentegg,  and the pip holes in the original three are bigger.    Other eggs have decekoped pip holes, and a couple of eggs are rolling around.

More news later.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


I can't believe how cold it is today. I'm going to have to light the fire I think - either that or put the heating on (and I don't like having the heating on during the day).

The Girls are keeping us on our toes.  Lily has escaped at least twice today and at one point all 5 girls were out,:one of the gates had popped open.  DH has now adjusted the hook. 

Lily has escaped once since then, and we aren't sure where she's getting out. I suspect she's managing to "fly" over the top of the netting (despite her clipped wing), as I can't see any gaps.  We always give her corn as a reward for escaping -  It means that as soon as she gets out, she comes running up to the house looking for her treat.

Pogo, meanwhile, is still on one leg.  When she moves now she does try and put her bad leg down on the ground with each step; when she stands, she stands on one leg.  It's still progress (although slow). 

I'm not around much for the rest of the week, so we'll see how she is at the weekend and take her back to the Vet early next week if her leg is still up.   There's not much point taking her back before then, as there really isn't anything he can do.  

She's eating and drinking well, but I think I might start weighing her every day, just to make sure that se is maintaining her weight.

Down on the allotment,  Norman managed to find hisher way into the Geese enclosure.  DH rescued him/her from the Geese and put himher back in the correct pen.  S/he has also been visiting with Roo and his girls.  

We're still not sure about Norman, although I suspect its Norma really.  S/he isn't showing any cockerel feathering, which I would expect to have appeared by now, especially as there are no other cockerels in that pen.   But s/he is overly bolshy for a hen, maybe a feature of being 2 weeks younger than his friends all his life?    Mind you, it doesn't really matter what sex he is now. As we have no other cockerel, we'd probably keep him even if he turned out to be male. He's only partially related to everyone else: Mrs Flint isn't his mum; the other Girls are his half sisters.

In the Roo pen, still no signs of fertility in the eggs. Mrs Roo is laying, regularly  Mrs RooToo isn't laying at all yet.

With the Garden Girls we've had a couple of eggs from Delilah (it's something to do with the Lifeguard tonic,  she lays when they have it, and she doesn't lay when they don't);   Milly laid her first egg for ages yesterday, and it was perfect. That's a relief, because the last few she laid before taking a break were very ribbed.  Jasmine  has yet to resume laying after the winter. Mind you, she didn't start to lay until she was 40 weeks old,  and she stopped at the first hint of winter.    Daisy and Lily continue to lay most days.

And we've got less than a week to go before the Light Sussex eggs hatching!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

MIchael Caines' Roask Duck (with link to recipe added)

No, not the cheeky chappy, this is Michael Caines the chef.    We went to see a recording of Market Kitchen a couple of  weeks ago, and saw and sampled his roast duck.  It was incredibly easy, and incredibly delicious.  I don't normally eat duck (apart from Crispy Duck in a pancake),  but this was superb.

I popped a duck into my Ocado trolley this week, as Waitrose do free range duck,  and we made it tonight, using the programme recording notes.    Superb! 

The recipe should be on the Good Food Channel website from next Thursday. If you fancy duck but are a bit unsure how to make sure it tastes delicious,   try it.  It really is a simple recipe.

Edited 12 March to add: it was on Market Kitchen last night, and here's a link to the recipe http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/634603

(The title says "duckling", but it wasn't a duckling - it was definitely a duck.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Pastures new

Time to move the Garden Girls on to fresh grass.  We're a bit restricted because Pogo and her sister are occupying  part of the garden, and they need moving too. This means that a large part of our grass isn't getting rested, so we're restricyed on how we can move things around.

The garden girls now have a section towards the back of the garden, which includes some very small beds near one of the sheds.  They've made the most of this unusual access.

Pogo and her sister have been moved around the other side of the pampas grass, and have made the most of having a lovely dappled shaded bed to roll around in.  Unfortunately, the rolling created a little crater underneath the netting, and we ended up with one either side of the netting.

Isabelle, one of my cats, could hardly contain her excitement.  She climbed up on one of the fruit cage posts - no mean feat, as she's a big cat - to supervise,  and then she sat in the Pampas, the other side of the netting from Pogo.  When that got too much for her, she decided to go and check out the Cube and its run, which she has never done (Wash does it frequently).

Lily, meanwhile, has tuened into a Harrier-Jump-Chicken, and has been doing vertical take-offs over the netting.   After the second time I suggested we clipped her wing; DH declined.    After the fourth time, he agreed.

We also trimmed Daisy's beak again today, just a tiny amount.  We're still hoping that if we keep this up, we'll manage to get behind the weak point and prevent it continually splitting.

Thursday, 4 March 2010


I love semolina, a real comfort food...as long as it's made with the coarse stuff and much thicker than the recipes usually recommend.  DH doesn't eat it. I make a pint of milk's worth, eat just over half of it, and then the Girls get the leftovers the next day.

Of course it's set very solid by the time they get it, and the sight of a chicken running around with a lump of semolina always makes me chuckle,  especially when she is followed - Benny Hill style - by a line of other hungry chooks.

Pogo and her sister had some too, although I think it would be more accurate to say Pogo's sister had some. Despite me putting the bowl right by Pogo, I'm not sure she even saw it before it was wolfed down by Sis.

Fruit Cage

Our fruit cage has been very congested for a couple of years now.  Today we bought a Jostaberry to put in (a bit late, I know), and it spurred me on to clear it out.

WIth great sadness, until it poked me in the face, I completely removed one of the very-sweet gooseberry bushes, The variety name escapes me, temporarily. It was recommended years ago by Bob FLowerdew and was described by him as being better than grapes. Which it is, when it isn't covered in mildew.  I had four of these in total,  two of which were side by side and one of them had to go.   I also brutally re-pruned the third one, in the middle of the cage,  and left the fourth one alone.

Then I cut down all the raspberry canes which were outside their wire.  And finally, I thinned out the canes.  I left the blackcurrants alone.

I've warned the remaining raspberries that their days are numbered, as the Tayberry at one end of the fruitcage fruits prolifically and tastes wonderful.  She would stretch all along the raspberry wires, given a chance,  and I've warned the raspberries that I am getting inclined to let her do just that. 

The gooseberries have this year, if they get mildewed again then they are coming out completely. Especially as the Jostaberry should provide gooseberry flavoured fruits from next year.

We'll see.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Pogo put her foot on the ground!

I let them out of the Eglu at about 8 this morning,  and at 9.05 I let them out to free range in their netting-enclosed area.  Brought Pogo in for her tablet (which she helpfully pecked up herself), and then put her back outside.

Just looking out of the window and I saw her put her foot on the ground and take a step on it.  It's gone back up now, but she is trying it so it must be feeling better!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Another lovely day

Warm and springlike.  Back door is open, chooks are outside burbling away to themselves....

Silverring crouched for me today, so I picked her up and brought her in to have some corn.  I'd like her to associate being picked up wth good things.   Pogo also crouched for me,  I brought her in to give her her tablet, and she pecked it up from the worktop. Result!

Here's Silverring dustbathing, watched by Pogo.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Spring Clean

Well, I scrubbed out the Cube,  took all the covers off the CubeRun so I could wash the rubber chippings,  and then decided I might as well do their Walk In Run as well.   Bit of a mistake, as doing everything in one go is quite a lot of work.  Still, the perches and the bench always look great after they've been pressure washed (until the Diatom powder has been puffed all over them anyway),  and the brand new Aubiose looks very bright and clean.

I also refreshed their dust bath,  and made up a small version for Pogo and her friend.  SilverRing used it immediately,  Pogo found it a bit hard to get into, so I gave her a hand.

The Garden Girls don't really like it when everything has just been cleaned.  Lily went and laid an egg, eventually.   About 15 minutes after laying, she decided to announce it, but she was also trying to eat at the same time.  So we had an ear splitting announcement for a few seconds, then it was muffled while her head was in the Grub, then ear splitting.  She strutted down the path screeching,  and SilverRing decided she'd join in as well, despite it being over an hour since I collected  her little egg.

Pogo crouched for me as well.  I was kinda hoping she wouldn't start laying just yet. As she's on Penicillin, any eggs she lays will be consigned to the bin - and if we can't tell hers and SilverRing's apart then both eggs will be wasted.

Pogo also touched the ground with her bad leg today.  She didn't put any weight on it, but her toes definitely touched earth.  A good sign, I hope.
It's sill lovely and warm outside. DH has scrubbed the matting that lines the inside of the big broody pen, so it'll have plenty of time to dry before we need to use it.

Back from the Vet


Vet gave Pogo a thorough examination, and couldn't find any obvious break.  He did find that the hip and knee and possibly the pelvis were a bit askew, and this could be the result of overtreading.   (He also raised the spectre of Marek's disease, but said it was unlikely in this case, especially given the circumstances).

The area was hot, which indicates there could be an infection. So, the upshot is (a) antibiotics (Penicillin, DEFINITELY not Baytil in a hen so young) for 5 days,  if its an infection that will clear it up (b) keep her where she doesn't need to climb up into the henhouse or onto roosting bars (so Eglu is perfect) and if it's a bone injury it should heal itself within a week (birds bones knit together ridiculously quickly).   If she's still only on one leg in a week, take her back. In the meantime, watch out for other Marek's symptoms in her.


It's sunny outside!  There's a thin frost covering, but it's reasonably warm as there isn't any wind.

If it's still like this when I get back from the Vets I think I'll give the Cube a good scrub with the pressure washer.  Hopefully the Girls will have laid by then and won't be running around squawrking (sp?) because they can't get into their nest box.

DH is doing the Allotment birds today, which means mucking out two coops; and he's fitting a nestbox divider to the Dorkings' coop. He won't be back in time to go to the Vet with me.
EDITED TO ADD: He fitted the divider, but Mrs Flint was still able to lean round an bop the other Girls on their heads,  so he's now made a second version which completely separates them. Hopefully this will give the youngsters some peace.