Saturday, 31 May 2014

Warm places

The cats like to stay out of the way when the Girls are rampaging.


So, much later, I took Lotti out of the pied a terre (p.a.t.).  The blood wasn't seeping through the plaster. 

Should I take it off or leave it on?

In the end I decided to try taking it off.  My thought process was that if it started bleeding again, I'd put another one on.  If, however, I left it on, there was a good chance that Lotti or one of the Others might try and eat it, and I couldn't see that ending well.

Eventually, I got it off.

I then sprayed the claw...and the foot....and the grass with purple spray.. Then I let Lotti have a bit of a run around.

While she did that, I did some pruning.  While I was pruning, the Others escaped. The three of them went on a bit of a garden rampage.  Fortunately for me, they didn't reach DH's vegetables. They found themselves in a very weedy bed and had a whale of a time.

Cut to the Quick

I am a bad hen mum. As in the bad mum of a hen. I'm bad. Not the hen.

Lotti, our loopy Exchequer Leghorn has a deformed foot. It was probably broken when she was a chick. Her "fingers" are all bent round, and the nails don't really wear down when she walks. This means that they need clipping from time to time, otherwise they chafe on the finger.

You know what's coming, don't you.

I can't believe I did it. 

I also can't believe how much blood there was.

Nor can I believe how long it kept bleeding.  I didn't put her back in with the others. She came in the house and left bloody fingerprints all over the floor.   I had some septic powder which is designed to staunch wounds.  I got lots of it in the right place, and even more of it down me, on the garden seat (which was minding its own business in the background) and all over the patio. 

I tried pinching it.  Lotti got very very upset at this, and escaped, leaving a trail of bloody prints all down the garden path.

I tried again with the powder.  I ended up with blood and powder all over my jeans. And my jumper.

I shut her in Tilda's pied a terre, while I looked for help. She went nuts.  She couldn't calm down to see the feast in front of her - apple, cucumber,  mixed corn,  bird treats....  all she knew was she was SHUT IN. And Lotti cannot stand being SHUT IN anywhere.

I tried covering the p.a.t. with a towel.  BIG mistake.  Lotti seemed to interpret the looming towel as some sort of scary monster, and shrieked her head off.

I looked through my plasters.  In the end I picked one laced with silver, and I taped the end of her claw.  She's back in the pied a terre (p.a.t.) at the moment, I'll leave her there for a while and see whether it stops bleeding. 

She's discovered some of the treats, and the frantic "let me out, help help" bokking is reduced to a mumble every so often as she has a beak full of something.

I need to go and mop up the blood.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Izzy Misses You


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

This has gone too far!

We went out this morning at about 10.30. We got back at 4.

Tilda wasn't in the kitchen when we got home.

Where did we find her?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Still fitting

Two more fits this week.

We managed to miss her Thursday morning's tablet.   We were mortified.    I've now set an alarm on my laptop *and* my phone, just to make sure it doesn't happen again.

She had a fit Sunday morning at about 1am.  This is probably because of the missed tablet.

She had another fit this morning about 5.30am.  This was strange, it was more of a petit mal with minor spasms than a grand mal.  Either that or she had the grand mal and we only saw the end. 


Tilda has been out every day recently,  chooisng to come in when it's quite late.

She's also been relatively perky.  When we come downstairs in the morning, we can see that Tilda has been having a good nosey round the kitchen (hint, she leaves a bit of a trail).  She has her own toilet roll and bottle of Dettol spray, so these are quickly and easily dealt with.  I wish I had shares in Dettol. I go through bottles of the handwash!

With the lighter mornings, she's started off by moving around "her" area of the kitchen.  We can see when she has been looking out of the door to watch the Others.

Lately, we've been finding her all (and/or evidence of her) in the main part of the kitchen.   This morning DH found her facing into the hallway, on the threshhold between the hall and the kitchen.    He went into the living room to have a go on the cross trainer, and Tilda followed him, again stopping at the threshold between the two rooms.

When I came down she was back over her side of the kitchen. I made coffee, I went to do my emails.  I felt I was being watched and, when I looked round, she was sitting in the doorway behind me.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Wet Hen

A few days ago we had glorious weather.  Tilda was out all day, sitting near the fence so she could be near the Others. She had learnt just how far Poppy could push the netting to attack her, so was sitting just out  of range.

We agreed that would make up the Go, and put it by the fenceline so Tilda could stay out if she wanted. The idea was that if we went out, Tilda could stay outside in the run rather than having to come back into the house.  It also meant that if she wanted to stay out at night, she could.

The next day we got the Go out of tit's winter home, and then found the bits to make up the Go's run.  By the time it was all made up,  it was raining.  We dragged it into place, but decided to wait for a fine day before trying it out. 
Today was a mixed day.  During a particularly sunny patch, I took Tilda out and put her in the Go run.  I opened the side door so she could get out if she wanted.  I left the kitchen door open, too, so that she could come back into the kitchen if she wanted to. 

I hung up a water container, and some yoghurt (well, a container containing yoghurt, obviously)

I left her to it.

I checked on her later, and she was happily sitting in one corner of the run, close to the others. 

A little later, it was raining. I ran outside to check Tilda was OK, and was happy to find her sitting inside the Go.

A little later still it was raining harder. I looked out of the kitchen window and saw a pathetic wet blob sitting by the netting.   She'd come out through the door,  walked past the Pampas which offers plenty of rain shelter, walked all the way round the Go, and stood by the fence. 

I went out and brought her in.  

Wet hen is not a pleasant smell.

As soon as the Others emerged from their Run, I took Tilda out and put her in their Run to have a dustbath.  As we have two broodies, one of whom would, literally, kill Tilda if she could,  I had to peg up the entrances.  I actually deployed reusable cable ties on Poppy's flap, just to make sure.  She can be very determined when she wants to be.

Tilda waited for me to do all of this, then hopped out of the dust bath without bathing.

I couldn't leave her in with the others, so I brought her in again.

I expect she'll get used to it. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Possibly TMI?

This might be too much information, so proceed with caution.

Some months ago I pigged out on a lot of special cheese.  So much so, that I put on a few pounds, which I haven't been able to shift.  Then I got  abit dehydrated with using the cross trainer and not drinking enough fluid... anyway,  my tummy started to swell a little.

The swelling got worse, and I had to dig out some old (larger) trousers to stop me looking like a muffin. 

I went for a colonic.  I had been meaning to go for nearly a month by the time I finally went, and my tummy had continued to swell a little. I wasn't putting  on weight, just girth.

The lady who did my colonic for me was very pleasant.   It turned out I had a lot of gas.  I mean, a lot.   The colonic did shift a lot of stuff, but it was mostly gas.  I've never had that before. I was rather embarrassed. I bet it was those damed wholegrains. 

My tummy felt a bit better afterwards, but still not right.   I've booked in for a second colonic ten days later..

In the meantime, I've been trying all sorts of remdeis to get rid of trapped wind.

I've tried massaging.  
I've tried Windeze tablets.  
I've been taking probiotic tablets.
I've stopped drinking fizzy water.
I've tried swallowing air to make myself burp.
I've tried peppermint and fennel tea. (Fennel being renowned for helping with this sort of thing).

The tea helped a tiny bit, but not a lot.    I've carried on with all the above.

I looked online for additional rememdies. As a result, my list of attempted remedies now also includes:

  • Eating raw fennel seeds. I don't like aniseed, so that wasn't exactly a great pleasure. I'm not sure I'll be repeating that. 
  • Drinking ginger bear.  The ginger beer did make me burp a lot, but I think I'm only expelling the gas from the ginger beer rather than the trapped wind.
I have one further internet suggestion to try later.  Brandy, port and hot water.   I need to try that when I come back from voting.

And today I received a competition prize of 4 boxes of Tick Tock Tea (Thank you Omlet!).  One of the boxes is Fennel, Licorice and Lemon Grass, so I'll give that a try later.  

It can't be worse than the peppermint and Fennel.

Can it?

Monday, 19 May 2014


I thought I'd make hay while the sun shines.  Or rather,  deep clean the other coops on the allotment, and my Cube at home.

I try and do this four times a year (in addition to weekly poo cleaning and routine montly cleaning/poweder disinfecting/Diatomming) The deep clean involves removing everything, and then doing a full dose of Poultry Shield.  When it's all dry, everything gets Diatommed.

I did the large shed a couple of weeks ago, but I hadn't done the other coops on the allotment.  I've been waiting for good weather, so everything can get dry quickly.

 A couple of years ago I invested in a large pressure sprayer, and that has been great. The only downsides are that the nozzle clogs ( because I use water from a water butt), and it has to be refilled several times.  I've got round the clogging by carrying spare nozzles, so I can switch them and carry on.

I had thought about getting a knapsack type sprayer, but they seemed a lot of money.  (Especially as I was using a hand sprayer - the sort for misting plants - at the time I first looked)..  However, with a number of coops to do in one go, I decided to look again.   I bought one, and it arrived in time.

I had to tighten everything up before using it, but it worked like a dream. I wasn't sure how much water to put in. It holds 16 litres, but I knew that would be too much (from the calculatin of how much Poultry Shield would be required).  In the end, I put in 12 litres.  

It was great. A bit awkward to get on, on my own - fortunately DH was around.  Once on, it was very straightforward.  I didn't need to refill it, it didn't clog, and the job was done very quickly.

It tool about 2 hours at the allotment to do everything (including putting everything back afterwards).   When I got home, I started on the Cube.   I pressure washed it first, then I pressure washed the panels of the walk in run. Then I pressure washed the algae off the rain cover.  Then I pressure washed the mezzanine level.   After that, spraying with poultry shield only took a few minutes.

Thank goodness that's done.

I'll have to do the broody cube later. But that can wait - as long as it's ready before the chicks start to use it.

Neighbour snoring?

I was sitting at my puter in the living room, listening to the radio.  It was 11.20am, and I could hear snoring Very, very loud snoring.

I turned round to see if the cats were on the sofa. No.

Maybe it was the radio?  I turned it off. The snoring continued.

DH was out, so I knew it wasn't him.  Oh my goodness. It must be someone at my lovely next door neighbour's house!

I got up and crept towards the front window (I have no idea why I was creeping, I was the only one in the house) so my ears could work out exactly where it was coming from. 

It couldn't be my neighbour! It wasn't a ladylike snore. I was going to put my ear closer to the wall, to see if it really was coming from next door.  I wasn't really sure what I was going to do if it was.

Before I got there, the snoring stopped.  I stopped and waited. Then it started again. Out of the corner of my eye, the cat tree wobbled.

Izzy was squished inside, and her snoring was reverberating off the cubby hole walls.

In my defense, she was completey inside the cubby hole at the time, she only poked her head and paw out to pose for her close up.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Ladies who Lunch

I much prefer having lunch out than having dinner out.  Not that I do either very much at the moment.

Having said that, I do have dinner about once a month with my best friend.  She's younger than me and still works full time, so having lunch together is an especial treat.    Last week was one of those treats.

We were lunching  in our local town. I had a couple of errands to run afterwards, and I knew Y wouldn't mind .  Nothing much, just collecting a John Lewis order from my local Waitrose, and trying  Boots foundation/skin matching service. I didn't wear any make up at all, which isn't unusual in itself, but I do try and put some on to go out to dinner (Y always looks immaculate).

Good food, two bottles of wine...   Much later, we wandered in to Boots. I realised that we should probably have done this before  lunch.  I didn't feek any the worse for wear, but I suspect that people who've had a bit to drink rarely do.      On the plus side, I felt much less awkward than I would have done if I had been completely sober.

The assistant was very good and it was very helpful to have Y there to look at my face and tell me what she thought.   The colour the assistant (and her camera matching device) seemed perfect,  the difficulty was the choice of what type of foundation I was looking for. 

Rather lamely, I explained what I normally used (fortunately, it was  a good brand, so I didn't need to feel embarrassed.  We discussed coverage, lines, rosacea.  I talked about needing to use concealer (for the rosacea), she suggested green stuff.  In my youth, when my skin was toght and fresh and my face was thinner,  I didn't need makeup. I did wear it if I was going out, because the merest sniff of alcohol would turn my face heart-attack red. I had to wear green makeup to calm the red, and then thickish foundation to cover the green tinge.   I wasn't sure I could go through all that at my age,

Still, I was relaxed and wasn't feeling self conscious, so I let her give it a go. We started off with one side made up, and one side not. The result was quite good, and it hadn't required a thick plastering.        Then the not-side had the same colour in a different finish.  We all agreed we liked that better.    There was a third option.

This required removing the first option (should I mention that my skin is hypersensitive? No, it'll be alright) before applying the third.  We waited briefly for the redness togo down.  And it went down even more when the green was applied again.

The second side won, which was quite pleasant as the third side was something for when skin needs even more care.  I have no idea what I bought, I'll dfind out next time I get dressed up.

I also bought some of their Protect and Perfect serum, which has been heavily advertised. I'm usually sceptical about any skin care product, but I had quite liked the advert. Iwasn't quite sure how I was going to fit this in with my Rosacea cream, but I would think of something.

Finally, we moved on to the L'Oreal counter, because I wanted to look at some gel eye liner thing. There were 3 (who knew?!) and no testers. No buy then.

I haven't been shopping for makeup with a friend since I was 15. 

I tried the Perfect and Protect that night.  It really did feel lovely.  How sad am I?


Not one of my chooks.

A shrub in our front garden.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Eggs away

We cleared a space in the guest bedroom to set up the incubator.  It used to go in the small room, where the organ lives.  However, the organ was replaced by Orla last year, and now gets played every day.   It's not practical to put the incubator and paraphernalia in there.

Hopefully no one will want to come and stay in the next 3 weeks or so - we put 20 eggs in the incubator yesterday.   

 Our well thought out plans (fitting around DH's need to parent-sit) were  trashed by Norman, who had decided to go broody.  This also impacted on our plans to put Henry plus a select few girls (incl Norman) into their own run for a few days, so we could be sure which chooks we were collecting from.

Norman (and her sisters) are 5 years old now.   Norm was hatched under her mum, but her mum abandoned her.  We brought her home and put her in the brooder along with her cousins/brothers/sisters, who were all a couple of weeks older than she was.  

She was tiny in comparison to them,  but always did whatever they did - she had no idea that she was so much younger.    We were convinced she was a cockerel (she used to square up to us all the time), right up to the day she laid an egg.
Guess which blonde bombshell is Norman?

As Norm is 5 now, I really wanted to have a chick from her (even if it won't look anything like her because the father is Henry).

Anyway, The day after Norman came out of broodiness, we shut her in a separate run with Henry for a few hours.  Hopefully Henry did his job properly.   We then shut the Norman's sisters (SiouxsieSioux and NotNorman) in the run, so that we would know that any of their distinctive eggs laid elsewhere would be Norm's.

Norm laid one egg.   

The sisters were inadvertently let back into the run with everyone else,  so the second egg that we collected might or might not be Norm's.

We also collected one egg from Siouxsie or NotNorman from the day the were shut in together.  And second egg which could be from anyone of them.

We stared at all the eggs for sometime, and discussed what to do. 

I wanted a baby Norman.  Obviously, it would be a half-Norman, but a half-Norm is better than no Norm. I like the other two, but it's Norm that I want to keep a piece of.

If we hatch eggs that might be from the Sisters, we might not be able to tell... unless we are lucky, and the chicks inherit Norm's blondness.   It's unlikely as Henry, the father,  is black.

But then I realised that if we intend to keep a female hatchling, we'll need to keep a couple of them, to give them any chance of being integrated with the established flock.   Hatching just the two eggs doesn't give us much chance of getting 2 girls. 

In the end, they all went in the incubator.   In the unlikely event that we end up with 4 girls, we'll probably keep all 4 of them.

That left 16 spaces for other eggs.  We looked at  the 18 other eggs we had collected over 3 days. They all looked viable, no odd shapes.   We could see that one hen had contributed 3 eggs, so we took one of hers out.   16 is too many really, we don't actually want that high number of chooks to hatch.   However, Henry has a large harem, and so we can't be entirely sure that he's covering them all.

In the end we put 16 in, plus the 4 NormanFamily eggs in.

We'll see what happens. 

M62 Crash - lorry carrying 6000 chickens. The real story.

This was widely reported yesterday, with some newspapers (like The Mirror) turning in to a bit of a joke.   There was one small glimmer reported later, which was that a nearby dog rescue place managed to rescue some of the chickens.

The reports, of course, didn't go into much detail. 

Dogs4Rescue posted their account of the story on their Facebook page.  I've copied and pasted it here. There is also a video.

So many people have asked what happened and reports have got it wrong or missed the point so here is the account as it was:

6800 live chickens in the small lorry. Driver hit the central reservation and upon impact almost all the crates came off the lorry. We guess we saved about 3000 hens. Lots dead at the scene or dying on site but the unreported and most shocking thing of all was that many more were loaded back onto the wagons and put back into their crates and still sent for slaughter.

So how did we become involved?:
We live right next to the M62 motorway and it happened only meters from our house.
We woke at 4am with a huge bang and the dogs started going crazy. We just assumed it was a blow out on the motorway but then could hear a noise that sounded like people screaming. We went running over and once motorway side what we saw will be hard to forget. All the birds were screaming and it was deafening. Cages were up the embankment and scattered across the motorway, birds were loose and walking all over the carriageway, some running in panic. Many were clearly already dead but there were dying birds all over the place with horrific injuries that will haunt us forever.

Two by two we just started carrying the birds off the motorway and up the embankment to our field for safety. Turning around to realize the extent of the numbers we were facing caused an overwhelming feeling of helplessness.

Police and highways were moving the birds to the embankment and then we were ferrying them up to the field – a lamp post had been taken down and live wires were all over the ground so we needed to be careful but traffic was clearly going nowhere.

Only one person got out of the car to help and took 2 chickens in his car, the others just watched as we carried on for hours. I had to ask a highways worker to lend me his socks as I was getting so badly stung by nettles – he very kindly did!

What the papers got incorrect:
They said that those that didn’t die at the scene got to safety, some quoting 5000, but that is not true. Hundreds were stuck in the cages and with other dead birds. So many cages were mangled because of the crash that we couldn’t pull the drawers out and so we had to move on to others – another thing we won’t forget.

Feet and limbs were getting trapped if we tried to pull crates apart to start getting them out and the dead birds in each crate were blocking us pulling the others out to safety it felt like a losing battle at times.

When the police realized we had started emptying crates, to free the trapped birds, we were ordered to leave the area. Of course we didn’t as there were birds still everywhere and no one else was helping but a line of policemen and highways people stood and watched for hours as we struggled to rescue the others. We are assuming they were not allowed to get involved as these girls would have been someone’s property.

All help stopped as soon as the chickens were no longer on the carriageway, the priority clearly being to move the traffic along. Then they said they wanted to open the motorway and we had to leave. We protested due to live birds still meters from the traffic and everywhere but they insisted so obviously we ignored it and carried on.

Then the realization that a local poultry farm had been called and men in blue suits and white face masks suddenly appeared to take the live ones back off for slaughter was a devastating blow. We had worked for at least 2 hours by this point and that’s when the worst part came. After all they had been through they were being dragged up by their feet and thrown brutally back into their tiny crates screaming in pain and wedged in. We were heart broken and stunned by what we saw.

We managed to get footage of it, but we had to be silent while doing so and try and film undetected. If there had been any confrontation we would have been removed from site and so unable to continue rescuing and we just couldn’t take that chance.

The sadness is that after all they had been through, the ones we couldn’t save, were still sent to the slaughter house to experience that terrifying ordeal to top off their pitiful existence.

What shocked us to the core though was when the poultry men were pulling out the drawers to fill their crates for slaughter. They dragged crates out which had heads and legs trapped ignoring the screams – proceeding to repeatedly ram drawers back and forth in order to sever the chickens that were trapping it and catch those inside still alive. This went on longer than I can tell you, at least 30 times for each drawer they were trying to get out. What we were witnessing was torture. The anger and trauma I feel about this contempt for any life I am unable to put into words.

They were throwing those they thought wouldn’t have long to live onto the piles of dead chickens and we were picking as many as we could up again to carry them off back to at least die in the grass as though free.

Suddenly, surprisingly and due to a combination of our hounding of them with the camera and then seeing the sheer determination to battle against them and save as many as we could, the guys all of a sudden decided to stop filling their crates and start helping us save them instead.

It is ironically thanks to the workers from the poultry farm that the vast majority of these birds survived. They gathered them up much quicker as there were so many of them. They herded them up the embankment and helped us get them over into the field. We were so grateful yet there was little if any communication in words as they didn’t seem to understand us.

It was a roller coaster of emotion and confusion going from being disgusted with them to being moved by their strenuous efforts to help us. I’m not sure they knew what we were doing or why but as they watched us pick them up so gently and in amazement we saw a huge change in how they treated them. I will never understand why things changed but I have never been so grateful.

As for the driver – he was having a cigarette, cool as you can imagine, looking at us as though we were crazy. I asked why he was not helping but he didn’t understand. I picked up the poorest bald bird I have ever seen with not even one feather and showed him, he expressed no emotion whatsoever. It was very hard to keep it all together.

The rescue started at 4am continued until late in the evening, the last hen having been collected from motorway side at 9pm. The rescue involved the help of so many kind people who carried on ensuring we got every last one we could see. The motorway had reopened hours before and all workforces from the scene had long gone; leaving us all to clear up the danger.

We ended the day cut to pieces from brambles, barbed wire and all sorts, stung and bitten but happy to think they all have a chance of a normal life which would never have been if it weren’t for the crash.

11.40pm Wednesday 14th May the last people turned up to get chickens. First thing Thursday morning and we were inundated again and we could probably have rehomed them 5 times over.

Those who came to help are the heroes in all of this. If it were not for them we would not have anywhere near the numbers saved that we did:
Thanks to the first call, our friend Deb who dropped everything, having no idea what she had let herself in for. When she got here she just started picking up chickens and carrying them to safety no questions asked.

Thanks to Lucky hens rescue who took hundreds of chickens, but more importantly rapidly sent the message out to which people flocked to help! Lucky Hens Rescue and other volunteers turned up and in the baking sun carried hundreds of chickens to safety, syringed them honey water individually, set up a chicken hospital for the injured or those going into shock. Incredible.

Thanks to our immediate neighbours who helped all day with everything, even bringing pizza and beers at the end. For that we feel so lucky.

Pat and Claire – thank you so much for looking after all the dogs for us which is no easy task keeping them calm during the chaos.

To those who volunteered, followed, called, took birds, offered help, shared the story and spread the news we are so very grateful. Everyone amazed us with their stamina and determination. It was an extremely difficult task. They worked without food or water throughout the day and we don’t even know their names.

Heather Cake – last helper to leave at 11pm exhausted after hours of saving the girls one by one. And to all those I had never met before and whose names I will never know thank you from the bottom of our hearts. All these people have restored our faith in humanity.

Finally, we can only assume it’s because people can’t see what these birds go through that these conditions still exist. Please buy free range, do not buy battery eggs and continue to fund this incredible suffering.

We can only hope that this raises awareness of the ability to rehome ex battery hens and give them a life after their misery. Please spread the word and let’s show this industry up for the incredible suffering that it really is. If everyone had been there to see this I doubt they could have stomached a chicken supper.
 Video link:

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Wholefood experiment

So. My order from the fantastic arrived.

Fortunately DH was out, so I could unpack and experiment without an audience.

I opened all the bags, and then put a teeny tiny pile of each, in a row, on the floor.  Tilda walked through the row, but she did stop to try the cracked wheat.

I tried them myself. Not from the floor.   The packet of Seven Seed Mix for Bread was really lovely. Even better tha the Five Seed Mixthat we get from Shipton Mill.   I spooned out some yoghurt for myself, Tilda, and Washburn,  and I sprinkled 7SM on mine.  Really lovely.

I knew I'd never be able to tell the items apart without the bags, so I thought I'd take some pictures.

I made up a plate for Tilda, and photographed that first:
Starting at the top and working clockwise:  groats, cracked wheat, toasted buckwheat, Millet, Flaked Millet,
I gave her the plate and she ate the flaked millet.

I then got interested in trying to capture all the grains, so I swapped lenses on the camera, and here are the results:


FLaked Millet

Toasted Buckweat

Cracked Wheat

7 Seed Blend for Bread
 The pics are interesting, but not sure that they would really help me recognise any of them. So I took another couple of photos for reference.
Ingredients list for the 7 seed blend

The 5 grains previously mentioned, plus some of yesterday's pot barley (top row, second from left)
I had anticipated that Tilda would reject some (most) of the offerings.  I ordered two interesting looking wholefood cookbooks, so I will be seeing what I can do myself with the stuff I've bought.   I think my brother might have a dry container for the Vitamix, so I might borrow that to make some flours.

I'll let you know how I get on....


The Bumbles have set up a colony in our incinerator bin - ow lovely is that?!

Bumble bee colonies are fairly small, about 400 individuals.  The males, as with honeybees, cannot sting.  The females *can* sting but aren't aggressive, they only sting as a last resort.    We think the coloiny will be there for a few months before the new Queens all fly off to find somewhere to overwinter.

I don't mind them using the incinerator bin,  we don't use it that often.   The bin isn't in the best place (from our point of view, that is), as it's right in the middle of the area where we keep the compost bins.  We may try moving it a bit towards the fence later,  at night when the bees are all home.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Not stupid

DH needed to fix the new cables to the wall.  I was on ladder duty, which means I stand on the bottom rung to keep it steady.

I took Tilda with me, setting her on some grass near the foot of the ladder.  We chatted for a bit while DH did his stuff. Then it started to rain.

I mentioned the rain to DH, just in case he hadn't realised. He growled a bit. Tilda looked at me for a few seconds, then shuffled to the open door.  She waited, presumably expecting the magic lift to occur. Of course it didn't, as I was on the ladder.

I wondered, idly as you do, how heavy the rain would have to be for me to abandon my post to save the hen. (Standing on the bottom rung of the ladder staring at brickwork is rather dull, so my mind does have a tendency to wander).

Fortunately, Tilda took matters into her own wings.  She did that head bobbing thing that chooks do when they are evaluating the jump required and, amid a tremendous flurry of wing activity, she managed or get herself over the door threshold.

She watched me from the dryness of the kitchen. I'm sure she thinks I'm a little odd.


Had a humble bumble in the kitchen. It was HUGE.  I don't mean 'It was quite big', I mean it was about the size of a stag beetle.   Well, half a stag beetle.

Fortunately I like bees. And fortunately it was on the cill of an opening door. I opened, it flew off.

More money than sense?

Matilda continues living, apparently happily, as a house chook.   She's over 4 years old now, and has spent 14 of the last 18 months living in the house (she took a long holiday to Chickensville back in the summer).

Her diet lately has mainly comprised various expensive bird treats from a company called Natures Grub.  She's had their scratch mix, their fruit garden blend, their herb garden blend, their insect mix...   She doesn't eat it all, she picks bits out.

I'm running low and will have to place another order.  I decided to try and work out what it was she was actually eating,  as I thought I'd buy those specific things from a wholefood company.

  I saw there were two things that she seemed to be eating, but it was surprisingly difficult to match the grains in the pot, the label, and online pictures. There were some things I could see that she was rejecting, and so could cross off from the list of ingredients.  Some of them - well, they really do all look alike when I don't know what I'm doing.

My first attempt resulted in the arrival of a 1kg bag of Brown Linseed, and a 1kg bag of Pot Barley. (I meant to buy ordinary linseed, but made a mistake)   Pot Barley was quite difficult to get hold of, and that's how I ended up at a wholefoods place.   The service from the company was excellent.

I opened the two bags, and put  a tiny but of each on the floor near Tilda.  She turned her beak up at the barley. She nibbled some linseed.   I put some more linseed down, and she walked off.

I compared the grains/seeds (sorry, don't know what the correct term is) to the stuff that Tilda rejects from her various pots.   Yes, I could see barley was in the reject pile, I wasn't sure about the linseed.

I went through the list again.  Were running low on Tilda stocks, and I'll need to place an order tomorrow or Thursday to make sure I get some before we run out.

So, I decided to order another load of stuff from the wholefoods place.  One of the things they sell is a seven seed mix for bread, and that includes at least 3 of the things I was going to buy.  I bought the seed mix instead of the individual items,  as I can see what she eats from it... and if she doesn't like it, we can use it in bread anyway.     The rest - well, I ordered small bags.

It'll arrive tomorrow, and if I can't get a blend which Tilda likes, I'll go ahead and order some more of the other stuff.    On the other hand, if it works, well, it'll be cheaper and less wasteful.

I can see I'll be googling for recipes shortly.

Monday, 12 May 2014

And again

11.45pm last night, another fit. Her 3rd this week.

Most unusual to have one at this end of the day, they are usually around 6.30am.

The Vet phoned this morning with the blood test results.   No kidney problems.  The level of phenobarb very low, too low to be effective.

So, we're doubling the dose, starting with this morning's tablet.  She's now on 1+1.

Blood test and kidney function test in a month.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Now you see me...

I slept until 3am.

No idea what woke me.   Thought I could hear chickens, but I suffer from chicken tinnitus at night (so my ears hear chickens all the time, but the chickens aren't making a noise) so lay in bed trying to work out if it was real or not.

The rest of the night was disturbed.

This morning, Lotti was looking a little lost.  Not surprising, as her sole friend and ally, Poppy, was shut up in the next door run.    The two Broodies hadn't come out of the cube, so I assumed they were in there being broody.  Later, I saw (and heard) Florence strutting around and grumping.

Later still, I went out to see if Lotti had laid.  Once she's laid, I can shut the pop hole and then let the Broodies out to join everyone else.  I was distracted from my task by noticing that Florence was still the only Broody to have emerged.  I decided to get Poppy out myself.

Only she wasn't there.

I did a double take.  I checked again. It was like something from a comedy. I could see she wasn't in the Cube, but I took the back off just to be sure.  I looked in the run. It's 2.5 metres long.  There was only one chook in it. 

I remembered waking up at 3am.

I looked for signs of forced entry.  At this stage, I was thinking it must be an animal predator, and I couldn't understand how only one of them had been taken.

And then I wondered.

I opened up the next box of the other Cube, and there she was.  Fluffed up, grumping, telling me to go away.

She'd obviously found the flap that shuts the Purple cube off from the main run, probably by accident, and  had barged through to get to her "rightful place" in the main cube.

Purple cube, flap shut, on left; orange cube, flap open, on right. Exit to outside in middle
She's back in the Purple Cube run now; she and Florence are having an out-grumping competition.   I've pegged the flap shut, and I've moved one of their garden-seat perches in front of it so it can't open.

I'm hoping Lotti will get on with laying so I can let them all out.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Angry Ladies

Florence (Australorp) and Poppy (Australorp x Indian Game) have been "on the turn" for some days now.  They have still been laying, but have otherwise been exhibiting broody symptoms.

Today they were stomping around outside, grunting in the way only a broody Hen can.  Fullblown, nestbox hogging, broodiness was imminent.  The weather has been horrible, so I left them to it.

This evening, they hogged the nest box and refused to let Lotti (Exch Leghorn, and botto of the pecking order) in.  And if Lotti can't get in the nest box, she can't stay in the Cube. The others rarely let her sit on the roosting bars with them.  I have provided alternative sleeping accomodation for Lotti, but she didn't want to use it today.   There was quite a racket at bedtime, as Lotti was shouting at the top of her voice.

I had foreseen this eventuality, and the noise meant I couldn't put it off any longer. So I went out in the rain and put my plan into action. The plan was simple.

The other Cube, the one which is used for the chicks and lives the rest of the time next to the main cube, was brought into action.

The two very angry ladies were removed frin the nesting box of the Home Cube to the Other Cube.  No material in the nestbox and no partition separating the nestbox from the roosting bars.  Hopefully the air flow will cool them down.

I moved a feeder and a waterer into the run,  and they both came stomping down the ladder to express their rage. Express it they did.

The kerfuffle disturbed Custard and Roobarb, who had gone to bed next door. They came out to see what was going on.  While they were out, Lotti popped in....but finding no one else in bed, she came out too.

I dug up a couple of DH's lettuces, one for each set of hens.

Poppy and Florence were grumbling non stop as they tucked in to theirs.

I had to split up the other lettuce to make sure that everyone got some.

Of course Lotti is now lost without Poppy.  Maybe I should have put her in with Florence and Poppy?

Sometimes a run-cam is not a good thing to have.

How was it for you?


I went to bed at 10, leaving DH watching a film.

I felt a bit like I was lying on a drum.  I think it was the difference between the sagginess of the old mattress, and the tightness of the new. 

I was asleep a few minutes after getting into bed.  I know, because DH came up to see how the bed was, found me asleep, and woke me up. Unintentionally.

I woke up just after midnight, and just after 2am. On neither occasion was DH in bed.  I knew that he had fallen aslweep downstairs in front of the TV. I knew I should get up and wake him.  But I just couldn't make myself get out of bed.

I woke after 3ish, hearing the cat making a noise on the landing.  I lay there, straining to hear if she was having a fit. DH was in bed, I hadn't woken up when he got in.    I got up in the end, and found her on the stairs, rigid.  Not through a fit though. Rigid, watching Washburn try to retrieve a mouse he'd lost in the hall.

Because the mouse was obviously very much alive, I tramped downstairs, and attempted to catch it. I failed, and it ran under the stairs, followed by Wash. I waited for Wash to flush it out.  I missed it, and it ran into the kitchen.

DH appeared. I explained what had happened, as I watched the mouse disappear into the living room and hide under the sofa.  I couldn't retrieve it.   To my shame, I left it to its fate and went back to bed.  I'm going to pay for that at some point. 

Around 4am, I woke because it was raining heavily.

At 4.30, Isabelle jumped onto the bed and nuzzled for a stroke.  She was a bit damp. Rain. Or maybe not.

I turned the light on and checked her.  It didn't look like urine.  She wasn't demanding food (and she's always ravenous after a fit).  I got up anyway and traipsed round the house to see if I could see any evidence of a fit. Nothing.

At 7am, the radio woke me.

At 8am DH bought me a cup of tea.

Yes, the bed was much more comfortable. 

Hopefully tonight will be less eventful.

Friday, 9 May 2014

New Mattress

At my last Chiro appointment, Tanya mentioned that I had a lot of misalignment.  I mentioned that I had noticed that our mattress (memory foam, now over 8 years old) was sagging - maybe that was contributing?  Coincidentally, DH said that he'd been having trouble sleeping, so I raised the idea of buying a new mattress.

We did.

We didn't want the same one that we had, and we didn't really want a pocket sprung mattress either. Been there too,  great until the buttons start to go.

So, on Tuesday we went back to the Back specialist shop, and tried out their range.  We were there for some time, as we wanted to spend enough time on each mattress to get a proper feel of it.  The assistant took pics of my spine alignment so he could advise on which mattress was best for my poor back.

By the time we'd tried them all once,  and tried three of them at least twice more,  DH and I had an idea of what our preference was.   We asked the assistant what the spine analysis showed.   Rather surprisingly,  his appraisal of suitability matched our preference.

So, we ordered our preferred choice.  It's some gel thing, which I am hoping will have the additonal bemefit of helping keep me cool when the menopause strikes (which will be in the lifetime of this mattress)

That night the current mattress seemed even more uncomfortable.  or so we both independently imagined.

The delivery firm phoned on Wedensday to arrange delivery for today (Friday).  Wednesday was uncomfortable. Thursday arrived , and I was thinking "only one more (lack of) sleep".

The new mattress arrived today, and it's on the bed now.

Apparently it can take some weeks to wear in, so we might not be getting the immediate relief we were hoping for.

It's also actually two single mattresses in a superking cover, which I really wasn't expecting.  Apparently that's standard for this type of mattress, if it's over 5 foot wide.   Hmm.  Hope that's not going to be a problem.

We'll see.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

And again.

And another Izzy fit this morning.

Something woke me at 6.30.  I rushed out of bed and downstairs, just in time to catch the end of an Izzy fit.  Although the convulsions had just about stopped by the time I got there, Izzy was slightly paralysed and was still obviously in the throes of a fit.   It took several minutes for her to come round properly.

DH cleaned her up, and I fed her. I then cleaned the floor.  As usual, she was ravenous.  She ate a whole pack of food, plus some dried food, plus some more packet food after a short break.

She then washed herself, and looked completely unconcerned about anything. 

The camera in the kitchen caught the fit.   It only recorded 15 seconds (the limit on this camera), and we were lucky enough to see the start of the fit and how violent it was.   The next bit captured was triggered by my appearance, so we can see the end of the fit as well.

We have a Vet appointment this afternoon anyway, so they can do another blood test.   I guess the dose will have to increase,  or maybe there is an alternative treatment we can try.

Izzy, meanwhile, is having a nap on the sheepskin rug.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Izzy, yet again.

Poor Iz.

She has a bit of a sore eye.  We had planned to take her to the Vet today to get it checked out.

Then Izzy woke us up this morning by tumbling down the stairs whilst having an epileptic fit.  It's a good opportuity to let the Vet know that she's still having seizures, in case the dosgae needs changing.

Turns out she's scratched her eye, so Uncle Timmy has given her an antibiotic jab, and an anti-inflammatory jab.   See what it's like in 48 hours and bring her back if it isn't getting better.

We mentioned today's fit, and the other two fits since we last saw him mid April.    She's now booked in for a blood test in a couple of days - couldn't do it today, as it was too soon after her tablet.

Later, DH got the Vax out and washed the stair carpet.  

The Vax has paid for itself now.

Saturday, 3 May 2014


Norman went broody about a week ago.

We wanted to collect eggs this week, to go into the incubator next weekend,  and we especially wanted to breed from Norman. She's getting on a bit, and we can't be sure she'll still be here next year.

It wouldn't matter, but this year we have to factor in babysitting for DH's parents into our hatching plan.

Spick Span

I was enjoying a lovely lie in this morning. No appointments. No prospect of visitors. Just lyin gin that half-sleep state, enjoying the warmth of the bed, and the warmth of the cat's head resting on my ankle.

Then I realised it was a warm and sunny day.

I had promised myself that the very next warm and sunny day, I would clean out and Poultry Shield the largest chicken house ("the Shed") at the allotment.

I could wait until the next sunny day.

But it's already May 2nd, and usually I'd have had this done by early April.   If I didn't do it today and we ended up with Red Mite, I'd be kicking myself for being so lazy.

So I got up and got ready.

Shower cap and gloves on, it's a matter of minutes remove the poo trays and nest boxes out of the shed. Sweeping up the Aubiose takes much longer,, because I have to get it out of the corners.  And sweeping all the cobwebs.  I hate doing that, poor spiders - but they have to come down to make sure the Poultry Shield covers everything.    Spraying the Poultry Shield (PS) takes a while.  I have a pump sprayer, and this makes it less hard work (when I started, I used a hand sprayer, and that used to kill me!),

The spray loosens some of the poo which is on the floor away from the perches.  A scraper gets these up, and then I PS again.   The I eave the door open, while I dust and spray the nest boxes.  

By this stage, I have stuff everywhere, and I'm starting to get tired.   While I'm waiting for the wooden bits to dry, I  scrub and disinfect the poo trays.    Then I clean and disinfect the drinkers while I'm waiting. And disinfect the watering can.

Time passes.

Eventually, the nestboxes are dry enough to be Diatomed.   Then part of the shed is dry enough, and that gets diatomed too, as does my face, front, and trousers.

Eventually, the shed is dry enough to have the nest boxes back in.  And the poo trays.   Then the Aubiose goes in to the nestboxes, the poo trsays, and the floor, and it all looks and smells wonderful.

A final PS puff along the perches, and teh ends of the perches,  and that's done.

I look like I've been rolling in something.    Thank goodness for BioTex.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Another week gone

I can't believe it's Friday already.

I know that on Monday we were busy Pigging. 

Wednesday, we spent the day at Heathrow, doing the T2 trial.

The rest of the week is a bit of a blur. 

I know that chickens and netting featured heavily on one of the days.
And work. 
And Tilda, who had been rather subdued for a few days.

Sleep has been very interrupted,  partly because I have one ear open for Izzy, and partly because I think we need a new mattress.

That reminds me, there was a visit to the Chiro. And the feed merchant.

It's all a blur.