Thursday 28 February 2008

False Alarm

After lunch today Delilah marched up the ladder and into the nesting box. There was much excitement at the sound of her scratching around. Lydia and Scarlett sat at the bottom of the laddr looking up; Isabelle (the cat) tried to jump on top of the cube but was stopped in time by me.

I waited for a while but she was still busy, so I went back into the house and watched from the kitchen window. DH came downstairs and joined me. After about three hours (about 5 minutes really), Delilah emerged, stepped down the ladder, and went about her business.

We rushed out and opened the egg port.... nothing. Well, just the china egg that is in there so they Know What The Nest Box Is For.

I understand it is quite common for this to happen a few times before they start laying.

Tears before bedtime

At 5.30 pm Scarlett, the boss, decided it was bedtime.

She marched up the ladder, through the pop hole and into the coop. She then sat there making clucking noises for some minutes, presumaby waiting for the others to join her. They didn't.

Scarlett popped her head ot and clucked a lot, and pulled her head in. Scarlett came down the ladder, walked round, then went back up to bed. Still nothing.

Delilah, the Bluebelle that was new that day, decided to go to bed as well. Scarlett wouldn't let her in. It seems that the order (for last night) had to be Scarlett, Lydia, Delilah. Except Lydia wasn't interested in going to bed.

The shenaningans went on, and on and on. Lydia did actually jump on to the ladder, but then decided to get off. Poor Delilah tried again to ogo to bed, but was rebuffed. She started to cluck in a very sorrowful way, and then started jumping on the perches in the run. This told us that she was trying to find somewhere to roost for the night, so intervention was necessary.

I put a torch through the eggport so that the ligh was shining out from the pop hole. It dazzled poor Scarlett who was tucked up ready for the night, but it had the desired effect: Lydia came straight up the ladder and put half of herslef in the coop. Delilah came scooting up behind, but couldn't get in because Lydia was still occupying the entrance, so I had to put my hand in scoot her in to make way.

All seemed OK this morning, and today they came out as soon as I opened the pop hole. Lydia has been sleeping in the nest box. I know they aren't supposed to do this, but I can't see the harm (apart from the needing to poo pick in the morning). I asked on the Omlet forum, and was reasssured that it's not a major problem.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

The cats go mad

The Cats believe that everything we do is for them, so when the chickens went into the Coop for the first time it was natural for the Cats to think it was a pressie for them.

Firstly Isabelle tried to explore everywhere, and she was soon joined by Wash. He explored every nook and cranny trying to find a way in. He also climbed all over the run wire, and at one point climbed up the sides of the walk in Run and laid on the roof!

I couldn't make up my mind whether it was funny or worrying. It was certainly interesting, and helped us see how a fox might behave.

When the chooks finally came out, the Cats laid down around the sides of the run to watch. They've also been watching from the kitchen and the fruit bed, and the upstairs window.

When the chickens were henpecking each other earlier today, the cats backed right away.

It'll be interesting to watch what happens when the chickens are out free ranging. My money is on the chickens. And of coursed we'll be there to make sure nothing dreadful happens.

Full House at last.

Well, we are now the proud carers of THREE hens. I collected Delilah from Sharon Gould at Pinvin (highly recommend her if you are looking for chooks) this morning, and arrived home mid afternoon.

When we opened the coop to let Delilah out she came running down the steps, and was confronted by Scarlett and Lydia at the bottom. They let her get off the ladder and into the Run, and then there was a nasty bit of hen pecking.

It's mainly settled down (for now?), but we'll need to keep an eye on them.

The cats have been going bananas trying to get to the hens!

Tuesday 26 February 2008

2 out of 3 ain't bad...

Well, two of the girls are here. We picked them up from Wernlas this morning, and they are absolutely gorgeous. The Naked Neck is more beautiful than I could have imagined!

We went on to collect our Bluebelle from another supplier, but there was a mixup and the lady wasn't there. Then to compound the problem, I had the wrong mobile number for her. We waited 15 mins, and then decided it wasn't fair on the Girls, as they'd already had an hour journey and had another two hours to look forward to.

Anyway, got them home and popped them in the Coop for half an hour and left them to settle. The cats went bananas, trying to get in the Coop. After half an hour, we opened the pop hole to let the Girls explore their new home. The Girls had other ideas. After a while, we tried to shoo them out, but this was harder than we expected. Eventually Lydia descended the ladder, and Scarlett decided she didn't want to be left behind.

Washburn (the cat) has climbed all over the Run looking for a way in. Izzy has been sitting beside the run, mesmerised. As soon as the Girls are able to free range they'll peck the cats and that should be an end to it. In the meantime I swing from finding the cats antics quite amusing (the Girls are only slightly bothered by it), and getting cross with them.

It has shown us how a fox is likely to approach this, so we've put our Foxwatch out there and on, to protect the back of the Coop.

The Girls have been pecking all over the floor, but haven't found the feeders yet. I've physically shown them, but it just hasn't registered. If they don't find them soon, I'll have to get a ground feeder, but I prefer the Omlet ones as they are (a) more weatherproof, and (b) seem marginally more rodent proof.

I'll post some pics probably tomorrow, when I get back from collecting the Bluebelle.

Saturday 23 February 2008

Slideshow -Building the Run

And here's a slideshow of the building process

Ready to move in!

It's finished, and ready for the new residents!

Today we put up some "shelves" to give the Girls lots of daytime perching options, created the dustbath, put down the Aubiose, and finally cut the hole which connects the Cube Run to our walk in run. All ready for the Girls' arrival next week.

I'm so excited I can hardly sit still.

Sunday 17 February 2008

Putting a lid on it

The acrylic roof sheeting arrived, so DH has been cutting it into panel sizes and making each one watertight. And today he's fitting it. The picture shows one section with the panel, and one without.

The effect inside is a bit strange. I couldn't capture it with a photograph, and it's difficult to decribe. It's not quite what I expected, but I'm sure the chooks will appreciate being dry in the autumn and winter, which is when the roof will be on all over the run. I think it will also provide relief from harsh sunlight, so I willl probably keep a couple of panels on even in the summer.

Not long to go now.

Saturday 9 February 2008

Docking stations

So. We're now ready to connect the Cube and its run to the main run. We need to make the join foxproof, but we also need to do it in such a way that I can undo it, to move the Cube away for cleaning. A bit of a challenge, as it needs to retain its strength over time.

DH had brilliant idea. No, really. We've snipped off the first 6 inches of the Cube run, turned it round, and then permanently clipped it to the fixed run. We can then connect the Cube run to this "docking station" by means ofrun clips. Or cable ties. Or something.

The ground is terribly uneven and slopes away by many inches, so we're having to put narrow slabs all round the Cube run, and build a little runway of bricks for the wheels. And of course we're (=DH) having to level it first. I'll post a picture when we've levelled it out.

Saturday 2 February 2008

The roof is on

Eggciting news! The weldmesh roof is now on the chicken run!

DH put it on today, and now he can measure up and order the plastic sheeting to go on top. This will keep the rain off in the wet weather, but the sheets can be taken out if it's really sunny.

I've ordered the Hemcore for the base, it'll arrive a few days before the chickens do. I've also been sorting out stuff to put inside the Run for the chickens to play with. I've got some small branches to make perches, and some large branches which will sit on the run floor. I've got a large shallow Tubtrug to use as a dustbath, just need to sort out what to fill it with.

New gates

We had to put new gates up this week, tall ones so the chooks won't be able to get over them. We bought three gates wooden gates in B&Q. DH dug out the old posts and cemented in new ones, and then set about attaching hinges to the new gates. That's when we noticed that the gates didn't match - we had two matching, and one odd.

Same manufacturer, same model, same bar code, slightly different gates. Our local B&Q didn't have any more (sounds familiar), so we decided to try one a little further afield. Before we went I checked the manufacturer's website, to see which design was the current one. Neither. They now have another design, same model. How frustrating!

"Fortunately", the other B&Q had all three designs in stock. We then took the odd one back to our local B&Q, and they weren't interested in why we'd taken it back.

The new gates look lovely though. Very happy with them.