Thursday 31 January 2013

Bloody mess

DH phoned from the Allotment.

Some of the Dinner Boys had got in with Spike and the Old Ladies. Spike and one of the Dinner Boys had got into a fight, and Spike was badly injured.  DH was bringing him home.

He looked awful and he was starting to go into shock.  I gave him some Nutridrops and then tried to bathe some of the blood off with cotton wool and warm water - I wanted ot try and find out whether it was just a nasty comb injury (which, because they bleed profusely, always look terrible,  or to see whether there were any other injuries).

As I was bathing, I could see that Spike  was slipping into shock again.  I made up some water with some Avipro and a drop of Rescue Remedy. Being designed for birds, the Avipro had the dosage instructions on the tub;   the Rescue Remedy didn't, so I decided one drop in 50ml of water would be more than enough.  I wrapped him in  a towel, I then tried syringing small quantities into his beak.

The first one dribbled out again.   It's best to only syringe very small quantities, and to let the chook swallow themselves. This is because the windpipe is right next to the stomach pipe and if you put too much liquid in - or try and force it down - you can drown the bird by getting fluid into the lung.

He swallowed the second squirt, and the third. These were about 0.2ml each (the syringe happened to have markings). I decided to stop trying to get the blood off him, and to put him somewhere quiet so he could recover from the shock.  I wrapped a second towel around him, and moved him into Tilda's pen.  I covered the pen with a couple of towels so that it was slightly darkened in there. He's currently sitting in there still swaddled in towels.

 Poor lad.

The attacker is currently in solitary cofinement in the cockerel run at the allotment.

I look like an extra in a Reservoir Dogs poster.


The wind has been ferocious.  Last night I woke up and couldn't believe just how howling the wind was. We live in Suburbia, but it sounded like we were in some very remote place with no windbreaks.

This morning DH noticed that the felt on one of the sheds had been ripped off.

He's gone to buy some new felt, but we'll have to wait for the rain to stop (and the wind to die down a bit) before he can try re-felting the roof.

Tuesday 29 January 2013


Tilda is still living in the kitchen on a B&B basis.    She's started to come out of the dog crate to have a little wander around that end of the kitchen, and so we no longer shut the door.    She gets breakfast (even though she has a pot of pellets, a pot of treats, a pot of grit, a pot of water and a peckablock available ll the time) when DH comes down in the morning to feed the cats. When I come down, she's out of her pen and ready to be taken to her outside run for the day,

In the day, I do treats for everyone - including Tilda.  In the evening, I shut the rest of the Girls away and then collect Tilda and bring her in for the evening.  She has some dinner, and then settles down in her pen to watch us and chat with us during the evening. She eats well, drinks well.  She preens herself. 

This evening, I looked out of the window and decided to put the Girls away a little early.  Tilda was standing by the netting which separates her run from theirs, watching me.   I shut the Girls away, turned round to  go into Tilda's run...and she was collapsed on her side, eyes shut.

I scooped her up, rushed into the house and shouted for DH to bring the drops.  I laid her on the kitchen floor, got some drops into her  beak, and then sat beside her stroking her and talking to her.    In the heat of the moment - in the shock - I had  completely forgotten that we had agreed DNR (do not resuscitate).   

A minute or two of constant stroking and talking dragged past.  She was breathing, but otherwise unresponsive. She was still on her side.  I stroked her feet. They didn't grip my fingers like hens feel normally do.  But she did open her eyes.   I sat up, stroked her for a bit.  Then I told her that I'd leave her be for a while (after all, maybe she didn't really appreciate the stroking, it was perhaps more for my comfort than hers).  I knelt up, getting ready to stand. She rolled over. I stood up: she was now the right way up.  I moved away, and a few seconds later she got, unsteadily, to her feet.   

I put her in her pen. I put some corn in her treat feeder. She ate it. She's looking a bit spaced out at the moment, and I don't know what will happen.

I remembered the DNR.  DH and I discussed it again.  Maybe letting her go was the long-term kinder thing to do.  But it's hard to do nothing when there is something that can be done.  Especially when her last attack was weeks ago.  

If she didn't want to be resuscitated, she should keel over during the night when we aren't there to save her, then I wouldn't have to make the "do nothing" decision,./ 

I guess what I do, or don't do, will depend on what happens over the next few hours.  I've told myself that if she has another attack this evening, I'll let her go.   Beyond that, I can make no promises.


Lotti has been crouching for me for weeks now, and still no eggs.
Poppy's allotment sisters have been laying for a couple of weeks - no sign of anything from Poppy.

I think the cold snap has interrupted their development Or they are laying eggs somewhere else.

I' not usually quite  this impatient,  but I have agreed to take a couple of Girls in to do a school talk in a couple of weeks, and I'd really like to take in a china white egg from Lotti.  And a blue one from Milly (but that's even less likely to happen).

I was looking through photos and videos to see what else I could take in to show the children. I have lots of video from 2011 (incubator throught to adults), but apparently none at all from 2012 (Poppy and Lotti).   How did I manage to miss capturing their chickhood on video?  I have some photos, but that's not quite the same.

 My usual first choice of hen for young  children would be Tilda as she's placed and happy to be handled.  However, she still isn't quite right, and I don't think it's fair on her to put her under that sort of stress.

So, I'm currently trying to reacquaint Poppy and Lotti with the joys of being handled,  and it's likely that they will be the ones to accompany me.   I also considered one of the allotment girls, Nora or Batty, who will do anything for a bit of food.    I'll see.  

I've got two weeks to decide.

Friday 25 January 2013

At last, the truth.

I'm sure you've seen those TV ads for "feminine hygiene" products, showing girls having a great time. And Bodyform's really annoying tag line of "Have a Happy Period".

In October last year, a chap called Richard posted  a comment on Bodyform's facebook page. complaining that he'd been lied to all these years...

Here's the text in case it's cut off in the pic above:
Hi , as a man I must ask why you have lied to us for all these years . As a child I watched your advertisements with interest as to how at this wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many things ,I felt a little jealous. I mean bike riding , rollercoasters, dancing, parachuting, why couldn't I get to enjoy this time of joy and 'blue water' and wings !! Dam my penis!! Then I got a girlfriend, was so happy and couldn't wait for this joyous adventurous time of the month to happen lied !! There was no joy , no extreme sports , no blue water spilling over wings and no rocking soundtrack oh no no no. Instead I had to fight against every male urge I had to resist screaming wooaaahhhhh bodddyyyyyyfooorrrmmm bodyformed for youuuuuuu as my lady changed from the loving , gentle, normal skin coloured lady to the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and extra 360 degree head spin. Thanks for setting me up for a fall bodyform , you crafty bugger

Bodyform have now responded.....

Well done Bodyform!

Thursday 24 January 2013

Like many other parts of the country, we've had lots of snow.

The Garden Girls are very vociferous to be let out but, when I open the door to their Run, they see the snow and then hang around in the doorway complain bitterly.  It's as if they blame me personally for covering their free range area with something so horrible.

In previous years we had Lily,  my lovely hybrid White Ranger (White Star), who hated the snow as much as the next hen, but didn't let it stop her going out and exploring.  And because Lily was outside Doing Things, the others would come out and be Doing Things as well.

Sadly, Lily died last year (nothing to do with the snow). And  none of the remaining Girls is brave enough to come out. Not even the loony Lotti.

The cold snap also put paid to any idea Lotti and Poppy ight have had about starting to lay.  Even Roobarb stopped laying.

Instead they get spoiled by having hot porridge,  and mealworms.

Tilda is put into her own run, adjacent to everyone else, during the day,and then brought into the kitchen at night.    Because the other Girls aren't going out, I can't sneak her into the Big Run for a dust bath.  Worried that she might be feeling unclean, I decided that I would brave the snow and make her her own personal  dustbath.    I had to dig out access to the shed to find a spare tub trug,  and then  I was grovelling around on the snowy ground trying to install  it in the covered part of her run.  I even went to the trouble of stealing some of the contents of the dust bath from the main run, so she would smell the same as the others.   Then, still on my knees in the snow,  I realised that she might have trouble stepping into the bath, so  I cut an opening in the side.

Did she use it?  Of course not.

Now the snow has thawed and the other are going out, I've snuck her into their run and shut her in for half an hour so she can dust bathe in there.     She doesn't.

Wednesday 9 January 2013


Norman or her sisters has been laying for a week or so now.  These three lovely little girls (Sarah, they are the offspring of Capt'n Flint x Buffy and Willow) lay very recognisable eggs. Smallish, goos solid shells, very smooth.

Today, we also found an egg in the Littlees' shed!  No idea who laid it. And whoever laid it hadn't discovered the two nestboxes, so maybeit took them by surprise.

At home, Lotti has been crouching for me every day for a week or more now, so hopefully we'll have something from her soon. I'm really looking forward to eggs from her, because they will be china white.

And Roobarb has been laying a few times a week for a couple of weeks!

Home laid eggs, nothing - nothing beats them.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Goodbye, old friend

In 1984 when I was 18, I bought books through Book Club Associates (BCA).  Back then, you joined, got a few books for practically nothing and made a commitment that you would buy so many books over the next year. 

One of my best buys was Delia Smith's Illustrated Cookery Course, in the special (small) BCA format.  It's been one of the best things I ever bought, and I use it all the time.  

Yesterday, my 28 year old copy fell apart. Literally.  It's already been taped together numerous times, and yesterday it fell into pieces. (Spookily, one of the pieces was at the recipe for Ossobuco which was exactly the recipe I was looking for, but I digress.).

I picked the pieces up, and the pieces fell into pieces. I thought about taping it up again, but I realised that I was just putting off the inevitable.

I've ordered a new copy. Paperback this time, and normal sized.


So, last night.  I brought Tilda in, and opened up the flap so that the remaining 6 Girls could access both Cubes.  I hoped, but doubted, that they might all go to bed together in the same Cube.

Once it was dark, I went out to see what had occurred.  And, of course, we had the 4 Oldies in one Cube, and the 2 Littlees in the other Cube.  I left them to it.

Tonight, I brought Tilda in, and opened up the flap so the remaining 6 Girls could access both Cubes. I hoped, but doubted, that they might all go to bed together in the same Cube.

Once it was dark, I went out to see what occurred.  All 6 Girls were in the same Cube.


Is it a one-off, or is it now sorted?

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Monday 7 January 2013

Spin the Wheel

Another change around.

Tilda, who is still living-in on a Dinner Bed & Breakfast basis, spends most of her time outside hidingunder a shrub.  She moves around the garden during the day, but she's always well away from the two Oldies (Florence and Roobarb) and the two LIttlees (Lotti and Poppy).

Lotti and Poppy continue to try and sleep in with Florence and Roobarb, but the ease with which they gain access to the cube varies from night to night.  I wondered, idly, whether Florence and Roobarb were blaming Lotti and Poppy for the banishment of  the two bullies (Milly and Custard).

We realised a couple of days ago that we were going to have to re0hink our strategy, and that the best thing might be to put Tilda in a safe area on her own, and to let Milly and Custard rejoin the main flock.   She spends most of the time on her own anyway, so it is no worse than she is suffering at the moment. In fact, it should be better - she could at least mooch about without fear of being chased by Florence and Roobarb.We would continue to bring Tilda in at night (as the weather is supposed to get much colder soon).  I decided that it would be best to wait until the Littlees had come into lay, as they may be able to hold their own better when Milly and Custard were reintroduced.

And then there was last night.
Last night we were woken up by an alarmed hen. (truthfully, DH was woken up by an alarmed hen, I was woken up by DH).  DH wento to investigate and heard something leaping over the fence.   Investigation showed that Lotti (who had been in the Cube in the evening, I checked) was trying to sleep in the Egg under the Cube.

So, this morning I decided to try putting tilda in the Henitentiary,  and I let the bullies in with the other 4.  I'm keeping an eye on them - any sign of undue nastiness to the Littlees, and the  bullies will be back on their own.

I haven't decided what to do about bedtime.  Apart from bringing Tilda in, of course.   I was thinking I would separate Milly and Custard late afternoon: if Lotti and Poppy are having trouble getting in past two big girls, I can't see them getting past four.  DH suggested that it might not be such a problem, maybe a bit of harmony will be restored by having the four big girls together.   Maybe.  We've decide to see what unfolds naturally for tonight.

Custard and Milly are delighted to be back with their friends.  They've been all over the garden,  and the four oldies are spending a lot of time as a group.

Let's see how it goes.

Milly (and to some extent, Custard) are very much on probation.