Friday, 27 June 2014

Quick Change

We had an interval of very hot dry weather, so I put the chicks out for a bit.

Earlier, DH went into the shed to check on them and found one of them perched on the rim of the brooder wall.   That signalled that we had to make some changes.   If a chick flew out of the brooder, it might not be able to fly back in,  it would get chilled, and that would be the end of it.

We discussed putting something over the top. We discussed moving the brooder ring out completely.  It's a bit early to do that really, we would normally do that next week, once the chicks are bigger and need more space.

In the end, we decided to move the ring out completely.  This has the added advantage that it gives the chicks more space away from the heat lamp, so a bit more choice about how warm they want to be.

I tool a quick snap from the spycam. You can'tget any sense of the size of the area, but the chooks look perfectly content.

Getting back to normal

The poxy spots have, mostly, gone.    At the beginning of the week, I was completely lethargic and unable to muster the enthusiasm to do anything.

Now, I'm getting back to normal.

I picked the strawberries that I couldn't summon the energy to collect whilst I was ill.    I didn't feel like making jam and I already have alot of strawberry jam in my cupboard.    I decided to make some strawberry vodka,  so I've started that off.  It'll be some time before it's ready to drink, but I'm thinking a bit of strawberriness in the autumn will be very welcome.

I made a strawberry and polenta cake.  I wasn't sure whether to use fine or coarse polenta, so I used a bit of each.   I think fine would have been better because the resulting cake, whilst delicious, is a teeny-tiny bit gritty.  I'm finding it very hard to resist though, which isn't doing my gut bacteria any good.    Gosh, I think I might have to go and eat some now...

I'm ready to strip and re-protect the Karndean in my living room.  Of course the days and days of dry hot weather have now been replaced by rain,  so it will have to wait.  (We have to move some of the furniture outside for me to do it, there isn't enough room in the rest of the house to sensibly put it all).    I hope that I can maintain the enthusiasm until the weather changes back.    The actual stripping and re-protecting doesn't take that long,  it's the emptying of the cupboards and dismantling all the TV paraphernalia (and putting it back to gether again) that takes the time.

I can feel myself trying to work out whether I could do any of the other Karndean floors at the same time....

Our plans to enlarge one of the sheds took a different turn.  We've now pretty much decided to get a "summerhouse" of some sort for the garden.   My new kitchen will have to wait for another year or so, but that's OK; I haven't found the kitchen I want yet.  I haven't looked at kitchens for ages.

We had our first barbeque of the year yesterday.  It was delicious.  We had to eat inside, as the rain started just as DH finished cooking.  Again - all that sunny weather....

I haven't used the cross trainer since I was unwell before my chicken pox.  I don't feel ready to get back on it yet. 

The chicks are now just over 3 weeks old. They are feathering up beautifully and getting bigger, slowly.  They've been out all day, every day whilst it's been sunny and dry.    Today, the rain means that they aren't going to get out of the shed, and the forecast isn't looking good for the next few days either. 

Poppy continues to be broody. She comes out every day for a dust bath, a poo, and something to eat. And I sneak some treats in for her.

Tilda is out every day.

No fits from Izzy for a couple of weeks (bet that's tempted fate).

I'm not quite raring to go... but I'm getting there. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tilda Picnic

Tilda is fascinated by the chicks.  Yesterday she sat under the cherry tree watching them, before shuffling off to the shade of the rosemary bush.   

Today she has settled in the shade cast by the pampas grass.  Normally she goes right into the pampas, but you can see that she's sitting just outside it, so she can watch them.

I put out a little picnic her..

Tilda with her drink and snackpot
Taken from the other side - she's watching the chicks.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Summer continues

Another hot, clear blue sky, day.

The chicks have been out since about 10am, slightly later than yesterday.  They've learnt to scratch around in the dust bath, but none of them has used it for dustbathing. Yet.  Mind you, they aren't rubbing themselves on the grass yet, so maybe their feathers haven't started itching.

I cleaned them out again today.  Although their shed brooder is very large now,  and they aren't in there that much,  they are pooing more when they are in there.    

My chicken pox spots are slowly receding.  My arms now only have a few spots, and I was able to scrub my arms today.   The spots on my chest, torso, neck, and face are smaller.   The ones under my arm haven't changed.  My scalp spots are mainly gone, but that was (I'm a little  ashamed to say) with help from me. 
I'm still feeling lethargic. I just CBA.   Today is the last day of my course of antibiotics.

DH and my two brothers had a day at Wacky Racing ( on Saturday.   I wasn't able to go, still being infectious.   I phoned them last Monday, as soon as I knew I had chicken pox, but it wasn't possible to rearrange the date at such short notice.    Sounds like they had a good time :-)


Friday, 20 June 2014

Babies at 2 weeks old

 The chicks were out under the Cube for the first time today.

This is the fourth time they've been outside,  the first time they've had such a large space (3m x 1m)

The Electric Hen is outside, and on, as well.  They've been under it a couple of times, but mostly they are running around and playing chase.

I've put some compost in a kitten litter tray for them...but they haven't discovered it yet.
At the moment, jumping on and off the Hen (under the Cube at the back) seems enough to keep them occupied. That and eating.

We're wondering how long it will take them to try and fly up on to the step.  Just something else to keep them amused as they get bigger.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Growth spurt

The chicks are coming up to two weeks old and I swear that letting the out on the grass yesterday resulted in a growth spurt.

I took a quick pic with my phone, not great for detail. Hopefully you can see how much their wing feathers have grown.  The yellow chicks have green legs, which is fab, Hope they stay that colour.

They were out on the grass again today.  While they were frolicking, we made the pen in the shed bigger. It's now oval. Not only does it give them more room to run around in, but it also gives them an area even further away from the lamp if they want to use it. 

They're back in the shed now, and running around like loonies.

We've detached the purple cube from the Big Girls run, and DH is currently joining it up the 1m bit that has been acting as a temporary outside chick pen.  

Of course the chicks are too small for the Cube, they won't even be able to fly up to the bottom step of the ladder (ha ha, famous last words I bet!).   It's still worth doing because it will give the chicks 3m of fox and kestrel proof run, plus a covered area.  

We'll put the Electric Hen on the ground too, so they have that if they need it.

Hope it's good weather tomorrow.

Poxy update

Today the spots really do  look like chicken pox spots.

Cooler weather and the antivirals (so lucky I was able to get to the Doctor when I did, any later and it would have been too late) have combined to take out the swelling and the redness, and reduce the spread.   Quite a few new spots yesterday, but not as many as I would have had.

In the shower, I'm desperate to scrub - but I can't. It would be the equivalent of scratching.

After my shower, with some of the calamine lotion removed (the rest won't come off until I can rub), I'm amazed at how reduced the spots actually are.  Pale pink imitations of their former selves.

I'm very tired, and I have a headache. 

I might go back to bed later.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Chick Development video

Fantastic animation of the development of a chick inside the egg

Exciting day for the chicks!

We put the chicks out on the grass for an hour today.

We set up a 1m x 1m x 1m enclosure, using a Cube extension and some other bits.  We put a feeder and drinker in, plus our second electric hen.

The chicks were nervous at first, but were soon running around, nibbling the grass, jumping on and off the hen.

They ate happily, drank happily, dozed happily.

If it's dry and hot tomorrow, we'll put them out for longer.

Monday, 16 June 2014

calamine lotion

Liberally applied.

I saw myself in the mirror and chortled.

Mel Gibson in Braveheart springs to mind.

Poxy chicken

Or, more accurately, chicken pox.

Sincere thanks to Sarah (compostwoman) for making me consider that it might be an illness rather than insect bites.

I am 48 years old and I have chickenpox.

I suppose it's better than being 48 and having shingles.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Feeling *very* sorry for myself

I was already feeling sorry for myself when I finally got up at 7.15am.  I had no idea how bad things would become just a few minutes later.

At 7.15 I was in a foul mood. 

It had been a hot sticky night, so I had had trouble sleeping anyway.

I'd been up several times in the night with the cats,  including one instance which sounded like Izzy in torment  outside but was actually Wash wanting to come in. (We have a cat flap).  When I went rushing outside to see if Izzy was OK, a mouse ran across the kitchen floor.   I couldn't be bothered.

Later, there were more disruptions as the cats had, presumably, caught the mouse and were fighting over it. I could not get up.

Lotti started whinging at about 4.40,  and the others joined in.  I fantasised about taking all of them down to the allotment and being chicken free. (That's a symptom of how rough I was feeling).

At about 6.45, Wash started farting around near the curtains.  I was tired, I was aching, I couldn't be bothered to get up, I threw a pillow at him.  It stopped him for a while, then he started again,. I threw my stuffed cat.   This went on, and in the end I sat up.  Looking at Wash, I guessed that a mouse had run up the curtains, and I could see that it wasn't going to stop until the mouse was removed.

It was 7.15am.  I got up, retrieved the mouse - which wasn't the one from the kitchen - and took it outside.  I was very angry with the cats. I don't think I've ever been angry with the cats before.

I washed my hands, and crawled back in to bed. Wash bounced on the bed wanting breakfast.  I was aching, I needed a drink and I needed something for the pain, so I got up. Fed the cats,  made tea,  stamped around.  Angry at everything and everyone.

I felt like sh*t.

I saw some Tildy bombs.  I curbed my still-rising annoyance (I'm never annoyed with her for this!), wiped them up, dropped the tissue in the toilet, flushed, and washed my hands.

I looked in the mirror.

 I got the shock of my life.

My face, my chest, my arms, part of my tummy, were a horrendous mass of swollen bites.    There were so many, that they had joined up. I even had some on my scalp, and the back of my head was really sore.  My chest was just one angry mass of bites.  My face angry  red, with red weals.

I didn't know what to do.

I showered and washed my hair.

I dried myself.

I got some hydro cortisone bite cream out and started to apply it.  I had well over 100 individual bites.
Yes, that's right.  Over 100 bites. They are horrendous. They itch like crazy.

I took some antihistamine.  I took some Ibuprofen.

 My face is a mass of bites, I can't go out looking like this.

I've been putting all the bedding through the washing machine.  I've sprayed everything with flea treatment (although I can't see that it's fleas,  I've never had flea bites like this. And the cats have spot-on treatment anyway).

DH is coming home today.  What a lovely welcome for him.

I feel pathetic, and I really DO feel sorry for myself.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Chicks at 10ish days

Apologies for the poor quality of these photos,  they were taken on my phone - and the chicks don't stand still long enough for the phone to focus properly.

Their wingtip feathers started coming through on day 2 and 3.  They've been creeping up the wings now, and some of them have started to have feathers sprouting on their necks and tails.

The camera can't catch it on the black chicks, but it is easy to see on the yellow ones.

3 Broody Hens

On the Allotment, three of the lovely Welsh Black ladies (including Gorgeous, who is Poppy's twin) are broody.

Their "angry" clicking, clacking and growling  - when I search for eggs under them - makes me chuckle.

Lovely girls!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Under the weather

Me this time.

Yesterday, I suddenly came down with a serious bout of aches and pains.

It felt like flu aches;  the sort of aches in my stomach, sides, and kidneys that indicate a chill,  or kidney infection, or food poisoning.    I wasn't having any additional discomfort going to the loo, so I ruled out the kidnesy infection.   I couldn't see how I would have caught a chill or the flu...

It got worse as the day progressed.  I had a bath to try and relax my muscles.  This in istelf was a bit of an achievement as everything hurt too much to actually get *in* the damned bath.   

It occurred to me that I might just be dehydrated, I definitely hadn't been drinking a lot over the last few days.  I made myself drink a pint of water,  and I took a small mug of hot milk to bed.

It was an eventful night.   The cats brought in a friend (= "the cats brought in a mouse"). I was pretty sure it was a mouse, but it might  have been Izzy having a fit, so I had to get up and investigate.  By the time I had shuffled downstairs, it was too late to help.

I woke up, still in pain, at about 5am.  Lotti, our loopy chicken, was making a racket, but I couldn't get up to see what was going on.

I dozed on and off until about 7, when I got up to feed the cats and make a cup of tea. I drank another glass of water.   This time, I took some Ibuprofen in the hope it would help my muscles relax a bit.

I checked on the chicks, and went back to bed.

At 10am, my phone alarm went off. I got up and got Izzy her cheese and tablet.   I made a coffee, and forced myself to eat some toast.  I wasn't aching so much, so the Ibuprofen was working or I was getting better.   I checked on the chicks, turned the lamp down a bit,  went back to bed.

At 12.00 I had a work related phone call.   I dealt with that,  had another pint of water,  checked the chicks.  I gave them their fresh water, and a fresh feeder of feed.  The Girls needed some more feed too, so I did that. And I got fresh water for them.  I was starting to ache again, so I took more Ibuprofen.

Matilda had hidden herself under a kitchen cabinet. I got her out and made her drink, gave her some food.  I remembered that she needed a bit of  a bath, so I did that too.  Then, while I had some chicken water (and I was going to have to Milton the sink anyway), I went out and caught Custard and did her too.  She is brick shaped and seems incapable of missing her drawers.   She did need doing, so I was glad I did it.

I cleaned up, then  refilled the sinks with water and Milton.  I'm typing this while I'm waiting for the Milton to work.

Then I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Wash has Tilda exactly where he wants her

I guess not.

I went out to take a picture of Tilda happily ensconced in the elevated Go.

She wasn't there.

She had come out and was sitting by the rose bush, right next to the gate that goes into the Other Girls' free ranging area.

I stroked her for a bit, then left her there.   There was a small (ok, miniscule) chance that she might take herself off to bed in Go.   But no.

Much, much later, she made her way down the garden and presented herself at the kitchen door.

I take that as a "Not tonight, thank you".

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Big NIght?

This *might* be Tilda's first night camping out.

She's been reluctant to come in the last few nights. It's been very hot out.   Mind you, judging by her wanderings she hasn't been to keen to go out in the morning, so maybe that's not true. Or maybe she's been desperate to go out, and has been wandering around the house looking for an open exit.  Although this morning she had made a nest in my one of my shoes, which was lying by the dishwasher.  So, all in all, it's rather inconclusive.

Anyway.  This evening, I put her in her run and put some food and mealworms in there too.  I left her in there.

A few minutes later, she was back out, sitting by the gate into the Other Girls' paddock.   Well, one thing I can say with certainty is that she won't be going back in with them.

I wondered if she would prefer to camp out.

So, I picked her up and "helped" her up the ladder/ramp into the Go.  There is little chance that she will climb up this herself, but she might be able to fly part way up, and then flap her wings to propel herself in. That's how she got into the Cube when she was camping out with the Girls last summer.      I just needed her to see that the elevated Go was hers, then we can see whether she chooses to stay there,  or to go back in there.

She started by eating the Aubiose.  I put some Yoghurt (in a coop cup) in with her.   I left the pop hole open so there is no problem with ventilation.  Currently the door into the run is also open, so that if she wants to come down and leave, she can.

She's sitting, looking quite comfortable, watching out of the pop hole at the moment.

Will she stay there?

Hmm. We'll see.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Chicks Day4/5

We put the chicks out in the brooder in the shed on Saturday evening.   More space, more interest, they have different ranges of heat (rather than the intensity of the little brooder) so have more choice themselves. Plus they don't poo quite so much in the food and water.

Today they discovered that the Electric Hen has a top. Lot of fun for everyone.
I know it's the same every year, for every hatch of chicks.

But for each hatch, the chicks' glee of the discovery makes me smile, every time.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Go Up

Some time ago Omlet launched a new run set up for their cheaper "Go" coop called a "Go Up"  We already had a Go, it's great for chicks (until they are old enough to climb into the Cube),  and it's been good as a shelter for Tilda.

I liked the design of the Up, but I couldn't really see Tilda managing to go upstairs.  Then Tilda started exploring the house, and then Omlet had a 10% discount day to celebrate their 10th anniversary. I;m working at the moment, so if I'm going to spend money on unnecessaries,  now is probably the time.

So, the Go is now a Go Up. We've modified the ladder to make a ramp for Tilda. Of course this means it's not suitable for tiny chicks anymore. 

Tilda has been shut in the run when we go out, if the weather is OK.  We haven't got her to try climbing the ladder yet.

We've also used two of the original Go Run panels, which had doors in, in place of two of the Go Up sides.  Because of the design differences, it means that we have a doubling up of skirt in a couple of places, but I don't think that's a problem. 

Of course, this didn't take into account the cats' unshakable belief that...
 So we weren't to surprised to see someone else having a snooze in there..

Friday, 6 June 2014

10 LIttle Poppets

 Here they are

10 little chicks

10 chicks now, just one unhatched egg left. Not sure that one is going to hatch, but we'll leave the incubator on today just in case.

We have seven black (or black and yellow) chicks, and three yellows that look like junior Big Birds.  The three yellows are from Norah or Batty.  These are   They are all out of the incubator and in the tabletop brooder at the moment.

We'll get them into the shed brooder, where there is lots more room and stimulation for them, asap.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Waking up in the middle of the night

I woke up at about 2am. 

I hadn't shut the pophole to the Girls' Run.

I listened. Had I been woken up by a fox rampaging?  Not as far as I could tell.   I told myself to get out of bed and go out and shut the pophole.

A little voice said "it's not likely to happen really"

Then it said "It's already 2am. The pophole opens at 5 anyway. It's not worth it".

I lay there, snug in my bed.  Another voice said "and how are you going to feel about your snug bed if you get up in the morning and find them all dead.  You'll realise then that it wasn't worth the risk".

I thought about the Girls, especially loopy Lotti, and Poppy who has sat tight on an empty nst for 3 weeks now.

I got up. 

I found my dressing gown, and I padded downstairs. I didn't turn the lights on, I still managed to unlock the back door.   I padded across the grass,  with the arden lit up by our PIR light.  I hoped the neighbours weren't disturbed.

I got to the Run and, very carefully so as not to make a noise, I slid the top bolt, and released the kickbolt.  

The pop hole was shut.

I forgot it was set to shut automatically.  I vaguely remembered setting it to close when it was dark, but I hadn't calibrated the sensor and it hadn't worked.  It didn't matter as I always (apart from tonight) shut the Girls in myself.

Obviously it had got dark enough.

Back to bed.

They're coming!

No matter how many times I see chicks hatching, it always takes my breath away.

Here's Number 4, the last minute or so of his hatching process

00119 from Hazel on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

An early delivery

Just went into the Guest Bedroom to retrieve my lightweight coat from the wardrobe.

I could hear cheeping.

I turned round expecting to see an egg pipping, and found we had a fully hatched chick.  There was no evidence of pipping at all earlier this morning, so this one has emerged very quickly!

Hope his brothers and sisters don't keep him waiting too long!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The chicks will be here soon

It's Tuesday. The chicks might be hatching on Thursday.

DH got the brooder out of the loft today and cleaned & sterliised it.  It's sitting in the guest bedroom, on a table next to the Incubator table.  This is the most urgent thing as the chicks will go in there as soon as they are dry.  They will stay in there for a few days, depending on the weather,  before going out into the brooder in the shed.

DH also cleared the stuff from the shed and constructed the brooder pen.   The Electric Hen, fantastic thing it is,  has been retrieved from the loft, and is waiting to bedisinfected and tested.

We're almost ready!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Glowing cat

Love it when Wash decides to sit in a shaft of sunlight.

Serves me right

We have the beginnings of a plague of pigeons.

It started with Fat Pigeon (the bird who is so fat that he makes the fence wobble when he lands on it).  Then we had Mrs Fat Pigeon.     Then we had the Little Fat Pigeons.   And now we have two collared doves. 

They are becming a nuisance. The bird feeders are protected, but they hang around looking for cast offs. They scare the small birds away/ They sit on the garden furniture pooping everywhere.
They aren't scared of us.  If we go out, they move about 3 yards then stop. They've even come into the kitchen.

The cats have tried to catch them, but without success.

And now they are getting in the Girl's run.  They have learned where the little door is.

I don't know how you stop them.  I mean, I know we could shoot them, but I don't think we're good enough shots to be sure of a clean kill.

Today I spotted one in the Run.  I went out, and closed the pop hole.  Pigeon was now trapped.

I wasn't really sure what to do.  I suppose I could have caught it know.   But I couldn't.

I went and got Wash.  I thought that if I shut him in the Run with the pigeon.....  I was planning to go and get Izzy as well.

Unfortunately,  Pigeon (it wasn't Fat Pigeon) outsmarted me.

When I opened the big door to put Wash in, he flew out and past me, brushing my head with his wing.  Wash leapt out of my arms in panic, tearing my favourite tee shirt and scratching my stomach nd chest as he did so.

I guess that serves me right.  I'm sure Pigeon thinks so.

Bee careful!

Just had a bee get trapped in my hair.