Sunday 28 March 2021

Bloody Update

Astrid, my blood soaked Leghorn, stayed in the nestbox in the orange Cube for ages  She laid an egg in there.  The walls are once more soaked with blood, from where she kept shaking her head.

She came out, and wasn't too happy about being trapped in the separated run.   She ate a little of the cabbage I'd put on the floor for her, and a bit of sunfolower seeds.   She hadn't bothered with the scrambled egg, which was a bit worrying,  so I put some of that on the floor for her, and fed the rest to the others.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle last night.   Elizabeth (hatch sister to Violet and Bot) had not managed to find a bed for the night.  I caught her, and popped her in the purple cube, which is where the majority sleep (and where she usually sleeps).

Astrid was hunkered down in the next box again, and I was a little worried about her.

This morning, the clocks changed. 

The clock on the openers on the Orange Cube (Astrid) and  the Green Cube (Norah, Katy and Fay) adjusted automatically, so they were let out at the new 7am, which was an hour earlier than they are used to.    The opener on the  purple cube, with the majority in,  did not change.  There was a lot of squabbling, as they Purplers could hear that some of the others were up and about.

I went out to check on Astrid at about 9am.  She was marching up and down,  eager to be let out of her confinement.    I didn't let her out, I came in and had breakfast.

After breakfast, I let everyone else out into the netted outside area, and then I released Astrid.  She looked much brighter.  She went outside with everyone else, and I had to stand and keep watch for a while.   Gloria was bullying her a bit,   waiting for Astrid to start eating some grass then walking up to her and forcing her to move.

I gave her a warning with a "Gloria!" growl, and she looked at me.   She knows her name, but she rarely hears it in that tone of voice. 

I went on to explaine to her, in the most menacing tone I could muster, that I loved her very much. But, as much I loved her,  so much that I spent half an hour every day hand feeding her lettuce and grain/seeds,  if she touched Astrid,  I would cull her. 

DH checked on them in passing when he went out to do stuff in the garden. 

I went out just now, and Astrid is looking OK.  11 of the 12 girls are out n the vey denuded patch of grass.  Norah is in the main run, as usual.  She hasn't been in the netted area for a long time (she does go "outside" in the fruitcage run though).

I'll go out again in an hour or so, just to see how they are, and to hang up some vegetables.   I keep the chicken veg in a fridge in the summerhouse.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Bloody mess

I went to let the girls out into their netted external area this morning.   Poppy crouched for me, which was unusual.  I had found a very thin shelled egg yesterday, soI 'm guessing it was hers.

I saw some blood on Astrid's (one of my Leghorn) comb, and I realised that she had been pecked, severely.

I bent down to take a look, and I saw that she had blood everywhere. 

Her neck feathers and her face were soaked in it .  Her earlobes were covered in it.  Her comb had blood apparently coming out of many places.

I picked her up and brought her in the house to try and deal with it.

I started with wet kitchen roll, trying to "sponge off" what I could.  I didn't know where to start.  I checked that her eyes were OK (they were). 

There was so much blood. 

I know that combs and wattles bleed profusely,  but usually they stop before too long. 

She was panicking, and I was concerned that she might have a heart attack.

Over the course of the next half hour, I managed to get a lot of blood off her neck and her face.  

Her comb was still bleeding, but I was struggling to find out which of the blood pools were just blood, and which were injuries.  She struggled so much, that it was hard to hold her and clear her up.

We have blood all over the glass door now, and all over the floor.

I ended up using Septi-cleanse powder to try and staunch the bleeding.  She was very stressed (at being captive), so I put her out in the garden.

A bit later, I checked on her, and could see that she still had loads of fresh blood.  More powder.  Some purple spray.

She desperately wanted to get back in with the others, but I was  not happy about it.  In the end, I let her back in, and watched what was going on. 

While waiting, I wondered who had attacked her.   

Then I remembered Poppy crouching for me.   
Last night,  Astrid was in the orange cube with Poppy.  Could she have done it?

I opened up the Cube to see if there was any evidence.

It was like a scene out of Dexter.  There was blood spatter, everywhere.   Again, I know these scenes are not as bad as they look.  Usually its the hen shaking her head that causes the blood to spray everywhere.   But this really was everywhere. .

I started to try and scrub it clean.    Astrid came in the Cube , so I put it back together so she could sit in it.   She had gone back into the Run by the time I finished. 

Poppy appeared.  And then Poppy started harrassing Astrid.  

I ended up putting Astrid in the orange Cube,  with some food and water hooked on the wire accessible from the mezzanine,  and I blocked off the access to that part of the run.

Later I checked on the camera, and she was waiting by the mesh, wanting to come out into the main run.  I went and let her out   She went into one of the wooden nestboxes.

Our setup is a huge covered run, which has 2 cubes with separate runs attched on one side,  a fruit cage ( with a cube inside) attached to another side,  and access to an outside netted area from a 3rd side.   We can close off any of the sections at any time. 

Most of the other girls, including Poppy, were sitting in the fruit cage part of the run, so I shut the auto door so they couldn't get in to the main run.   There were three of four girls in the netted outside area, but they didn't seem too interested in Astrid, so I left that hatch open. 

Sunshine, the other leghorn,  went and stood by the door to the nestbox.  I don't know if she wanted to go in and lay,  or if she was concerned about Astrid.

Just in case, I waited until she went about her business before leaving. 

I'm so disappointed in Poppy.   I know she's a chicken, and chickens do what chickens do,  but it was spiteful and unnecessary.  And she knows it.  That's why she was crouching for me.  She wanted some reassurance that she was a good girl.

A little later, I went and checked on Astrid,  and saw that she had left the nestbox. She was in a corner, and one of the younger girls (Violet or Bot) was pecking at the blood on her neck.

I took some warm water out to the run to try and clean her off, but there was just so much blood, and all the hens were interested in what I was doing, and in the blood on Astrid.

Someone else couldn't resist a peck, and her comb started again. 

I was going to bring her back in the house, but I know she finds that stressful.  So, I ended up putting her back in the orange cube run,  with the entrance shut so no one else can get in.      She'll stay there until she's had time to recover properly.    

Ive put some scrambled egg on the mezzanine for her, as well as food and water.

I'll leave her for a while and then see what the situation is.   I may leave her there overnight, which will infuriate Poppy who sleeps in that Cube normally. 

Friday 26 March 2021

6 more sleeps

6 more sleeps until Flockdown is over for the Girls.   They have no idea.  I can hardly wait!

The area we let them out into,  covered with approprately sized netting to comply with regulations, is such a mess.   We've had to restrict their time out,  and I'm spending a small fortune each week on fresh vegetables for them.  I'm getting another delivery today,  hopefully the last (for chicken veg).

When they do go out, they will have access to the "lawn",  the one area we aim to ckeep chicken free. Almost chicken free.   It's the area we use - used to use -  for the chicks, for a few weeks before they go to the allotment to live.  No chicks last year, and no chicks this year.   We don't have space to add any chicks to the flock here and, more importantly,  we don't want to have any more birds given the precariousness of the Covid situation. 

We will spend a few hours next  Wednesday fencing off the garden that we don't  want the girls to go in.  This is the veggie beds,  the area they have been using as their "outside area", and all the areas tha DH re-seeded at the beginning of March.  It also includes a small grassy patch which we are keeping as a backup for them, in case it takes a while for their previous "outside area" to recover. 

Gloria and Norah are still here, surprisingly.  I've been expecting Gloria to check out for a few days,  but she's carrying on.  She's still eating,  helped by a faily  private dining experience of half an iceberg lettuce and a load of sunflower seeds.      

I hope she and Norah both stay long enough to feel the lush new grass under their feet. 


Wednesday 24 March 2021

Knitter Natter

Well, I finished my knitted infinity scarf!

it's got a few, erm,  holes. The knitting is a bit erratic (for example where I was meant ot be purling and I accidentally did some normal stitches),  and doesn't stand up to close scrutiny.  But,  it is the first item I've ever knitted, and I had to learn a whole load of techniques to do it.

I had the urge to knot becaise I accidentally won an Ebay auction for quite a few balls of  wool yarn.  The wool yarn was Sirdar Faroe, which feels lovely and was a plesanat pinky colour.  I'm not reall a pink person, but this was an acceptable variation.

So, I bought a pack of bamboo needles of various sizes from Amazon,  and had a go.   First, I had to learn how to cast on.     I did a few rows, and realised that I'd picked needles which were too small for the chunkiness of the wool. 

I abandoned this piece, on it's needles, and started again.  Later,  Shelby ate some of the wool yarn, like spaghetti, and DH had to pull it out of her throat.

My second attempt was quite acceptable really.  I quite liked it initially.   I realised after a few rows that I should have used  bigger needles.  I ordered some circular needles from Amazon, and transitioned.   I made a complete hash of the transition.

For my next attempt, I started with circular needles.   However, I just kept turning the kntting round when I got to the end of a row.   I thought that circular needles were just a way of holding a lot of stitches.  I used more than one ball of wool, so that was another thing I had to learn how to do.

I quite liked what I made, despite the flaws.

I wanted to learn how to purl,  and I found a good tutorial for an infinity scarf, knitted (properly) on circular needles.  I orered some larger circular needles, better quality, and tried again.

During the creation of my scarf I had to learn how to purl, and to mark my stitches.   The purling took a while for me to "master", I really struggled t get my head around it and I started again at least twice.   Now, of course, it seems very easy, and I can't see why it was such a challenge.

As expected, I had trouble maintaining the number of stitches.  I ended up with a lot more than I started with, despite dropping some along the way, which is because the wool was so fluffy and was multi stranded. 

I saw someone using a cat's head shaped marker.  I found a template on Thingiverse, and DH kindly 3D printed some for me.

There were multiple instances of where I should be purling and I accidentally knitted,  or vice versa.  This usually happened when I was trying to knit without watching what I was doing.    I had been using an elastic band to markthe beginning (so I knew where to change from knit to purl), but  I  lost it on more than one occasion. I'm sure it also contributed to my stitch multiplication.

After quite a few balls of wool yarn.  I decided it was time to stop adding rows and to finish it. I learned how to cast off.  It was a bit hit and miss, but I did it.  I then went back to my other attempt, which were all still on their various needles,  and cast off those as well.

I couldn't possibly use the finished knitting if I was making a jumper but, as it's a scarf,  I can and will wear it.

I started this because I had bought too much wool yarn, and just to see if I could do it. 

Ironically, I've now bought another 15 balls of the same wool yarn in a different colourway,  so I can try and make it again. Just to see if I can do it better this time. 

I did try a quick square with some very delicate yarn, Sirdar Firefly (which I had also bought in a large quantity, to use on my bnew Embellisher).    It was a bit of a disaster,  I'm not ready to handle that sort of yarn.

I'm not adding knitting to my list of active hobbies, but I would like to see if I can make something with fewer mistakes this time.


Total crafty things this year: 28

Sewing based makes: 16;
Inner pad for foot muff; make cover for foot muff;  trim down Superking Duvet to KS and recover edges;
Cushion cover for Miss T; Gift bags for Miss T and GDK;
Dressing Gown;
Cat Duvet, Duvet Cover and Pillowcase;
Cushion cover for living room;
Sleeveless tops (x4);
SBCC top
Overlocker chicken
Curtains for nest boxes (4, but counted as 1 make)

Learning activities: 10;
Scanning pattern pieces; Making movies; Babylock demo day; Gathering using my overlocker;    Euphy training (circles,using elastic in looper) Gail Yellen's binder course;
Inkscape 1; casting on;  purling; casting off

Non sewing based craft makes: 2
Knitted Infinity scarf


Thursday 18 March 2021

Bye Bye Big Bird

Big Bird died.  She was 7 years old, and her death was not a surprise. It was a heart attack overnight.

When she was a couple of weeks old, she was enormous compared to the other chicks in the hatch.  She was big, and  the only  yellow chick. We were sure she was goung to be a boy.    She was a quiet bird, no trouble.

She's descended from the original birds that we hatched as table birds, but ended up keeping.  She has the "brick shaped bum" that meant she had to have help, from time to time,  keeping clean.

The flock is a literally a lot more dull without her lovely yellow plumage.

She was also the last visible link to some of the most wonderful hens we've ever owned, including our first kind roo, Roo.

I'm sad that she's gone, but not devastated.   I did not know she was going to die, but it wasn't a surprise.  

She was 7 years old, and she had a full, happy, free range life.  She died without a long painful illness, and without us having to make a decision to cull her.   


Now that some of the girls are coming back in to lay, Nest Box wars have broken out again.

I kept meaing to make new curtains for the wooden next boxes, to make them more attractive.

I finally did it. I made four sets.

I had a great idea, to use my coverstitch and the binder attachment.  Unfortunately, the ristop fabric would not move (and I can't see a sliding foot for the coverstitch), so I havd to use the overlocker,

They aren't great, there is definiteely a red mite risk.

But they are doing the job



Total crafty things this year: 25

Sewing based makes: 16;
Inner pad for foot muff; make cover for foot muff;  trim down Superking Duvet to KS and recover edges;
Cushion cover for Miss T; Gift bags for Miss T and GDK;
Dressing Gown;
Cat Duvet, Duvet Cover and Pillowcase;
Cushion cover for living room;
Sleeveless tops (x4);
SBCC top
Overlocker chicken
Curtains for nest boces (4, but counted as 1 make)

Learning activities: 7;  

Non sewing based craft makes: 1. 



I decided to make a top using a petite (i'm short waisted, so 'petite' actually works for me at the top) pattern from Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick (SBCC)

This was one of the first two patterns that I stitched which actually fitted.  It may even have been the first.

I still have and still wear the top I made originally, and I wanted to make something other than the sleeveless top I've become so proficient at.

I picked a very stretchy fabric (just in case), and I whipped it up in no time. Even the sleeves!

I'm so happy.





Total crafty things this year: 24

Sewing based makes: 15;
Inner pad for foot muff; make cover for foot muff;  trim down Superking Duvet to KS and recover edges;
Cushion cover for Miss T; Gift bags for Miss T and GDK;
Dressing Gown;
Cat Duvet, Duvet Cover and Pillowcase;
Cushion cover for living room;
Sleeveless tops (x4);
SBCC top
Overlocker chicken

Learning activities: 7;  

Non sewing based craft makes: 1. 


Monday 15 March 2021

Wool Spaghetti

Have you seen the original Lady and the Tramp?  There is a scene in it where the pair eat spaghetti from the same plate.

Shelby kitten decided to eat wool, in a very similar manner.

We thought she was playing with it,  but then we realised she was swallowing it.  DH grabbed her, and caught the end of the yarn before she swallowed it.  He pulled gently.  And carried on pulling  and pulling.

And we had a huge length of yarn retrieved from her stomach.

I now have to keep my knitting in a zipped bag.

Unexpected consequences

I went to check on the Girls, as usual, after they had gone to bed.  

I check to see if anyone has not managed to get into a coop,  and I take a look and see who is in each coop.   After months of a mostly comsistent arrangement,  last night saw an unexpected change.

For a long time now, the  Green cube, out in what was once our fruit cage,  has housed 5 hens.  Four of the ex allotmenteers - the ones in the second evacuation, namely  Nora (oldest hen),  Katy (one of the 3 next oldest),  Big Bird, and Ping,  and also Fay.  Fay was temporarily at the allotment when some Girls were stolen, so she kind of had a foot in both camps.     She is low in the pecking order, and a very small, nervy, girl.

I had been very happy that she seemed to have found a place in the ex allotmenteer group. I have a soft spot for her.

Last night, however, she wasn't in the green cube.  She was in the purple cube, which is where most of the other girls go overnight.  [Poppy, another of the 2 second-oldest,  sleeps in the orange cube, sometimes on her own but often with a party hen, or a hen which has been denied access to the "in" crowd].

I was really surprised.

It could be that she just didn't get in before the Green Door closed.

It made me wonder whether her link to the Greenies was a friendship with Ping (who died yesterday). 

I'm interested to see what happens tonight.

Sunday 14 March 2021

Goodbye to Ping, and to Bella the Cat

Ping, my silver grey dorking, died today.  She was only 4.  Her twin,  Pong,  was stolen a year ago (along with my Appenzeller and two silver duckwing leghorn).

She was OK yesterday, she was very vocal.  Today, she looked a little unwell.  I picked her up and she didn't resist, which is how I knew she was really not right.  

I gave her some drops,  and decided to put her in a crate in the kitchen so I could keep an eye on her.

She drank a little from a syringe, but she refused yoghurt and scrambled egg.   I've been haunted by Annie's death so, although I could see she wanted to be left alone,  I felt her abdomen to see if I could feel an egg.    I couldn't tell.

She got a bit worse, and I decided to risk putting her in the sink in a warm bath.  I realised that it might be the wrong thing to do, but if she was egg bound it would help; if she wasn't egg bound,  then she was dying anyway.

She didn't mind the bath.  She didn't grip my fingers when I put them under her feet though, and that's not a good thing.

She died peacefully shortly afterwards.

There is no sign of any respiratory stuff in the flock.   She had no mites or lice. 

It might be one of those things,  it might be coincidence.  It might be that she's eaten something that has poisoned her. (we never did find out what killed Jasmine all those years ago).   It might be stress.   Maybe she'd had an accident or been injured in a fight. 

She had some heft to her, so it wasn't a case of her being ill for a long time and hiding it.  .

I'm so very sorry that she's gone.  She wasn't the friendliest of girls but, recently, she'd started responding to her name.  She had such beautiful feathering, similar to our little cross breed Dorkings (Norman, Not Norman,  Siouxsie Sioux and Pogo).

I've been expecting several of the Oldies to go at any time, but I didn't expect to lose any of the middling hens. 

It's been a horrible weekend.    

One of Miss T's two cats was hit and killed by a speeding car yesterday.  I won't tell her about Ping,  not for a while anyway, as she's got enough to deal with right now.   This is the first time I've ever decided to keep something like this from her and it doesn't sit well.




Saturday 13 March 2021

Stubborn is OK

I half expected to find a dead hen on the mezzanine this morning.

More than half.

The Mezzanine was empty.  When I got into the Run,  I did a quick headcount, and all were there.   I looked carefully at each of the three flat combed girls.  They all looked fine and perky. 

I think it was Phyllis (the older of the three, and Mum or Aunt to the two youngsters) that was out on the ledge last night.    It was quite hard to tell in the dark.  


We have a mezzanine outside our original Cube, built on the inside of the cube run. It was originally built for our Exchequeur Leghorn hen, Lotti, who had a deformed foot. She sometimes had trouble forcing her way in at night, so we built the mezzanine so she could wait there until she could get in.

In the summer, some of the girls like to camp out on the mezzanine.  Its also used as a waiting area, when the nest box is busy.

Tonight, one of the flat combed chickens was out on the mezzanine after the auto doors had shut. It was 6.15, and I assumed she hadn't been able to get in to her usual cube.  Fleur, a cuckoo Marans who has tunrned into a thug, has started sleeping in with the majority, and she likes to block others access.  I'm often finding odd bods bunking with Poppy in  her Cube.  Poppy's cube is the one with the mezzanine outside

I opened the coop door, and shone a torch and made encouraging noises,  She ignored me.  There is limited access to the mezzanine, all I could do was to gently prod her from the side.   She turned round, saw the open door, and just turned back again. 

This is unusual.  Usually a "party hen" (a stop out) will go in to the coop as soon as the door is open. 

I took the back off the Cube,  leant in and through, and tried to get her to come in,  She looked at me, but would not budge.  I left her to it.

At 1am, the wind was howling and it was raining hard.  I was worried that she might be regretting her decision, so I went out with a torch to see if she would go in.

I expected her to rush in when the door was opened.   She didn't.  

We had a repeat of the attempts from earlier in the evening, and she did not want to know.

I've had to give up.

There is a clear plastic sheet over the mezzanine,  I made sure as much if it as possible was covered.

I hope she is OK.

Friday 12 March 2021


Did I mention that I tried cotton lycra on the Gable Boxer Shorts?     I even managed some beautiful binding round the fly.

However, when DH tried them on, there was something very wrong.  It was probably my sewing, or interpretation of the instructions, but something was amiss.  I checked against the pattern, and I couldn't see what I'd done wrong.

 I decided to try anotherpattern.    Made by Jacks Mum had just relaunched as Waves and Wild,  they were now including Projector files,  their Superhero Boxer Shorts had no back seam, and all the relaunched patterns were only £2.   I bought the pattern.

I made up a pair, and they mostly fitted.    They certainly fitted where the Gables had not.    I think I should have made a size smaller (although DH was happy with the size,  he just wasn't too keen on the jersey waistband), DH wore them all afternoon, to see how they got on.  He didn't say anything, so I assume they were OK.

I'll do the smaller size next, with some elastic so we can see how they compare.  

I also made another top. Same old pattern.   I used the differential feed on my overlocker to gather the neckline.   t works so well,  it nev er ceases to surprise me. 

I used my narrowest binding to cover it, and it worked well.  I didn't have it lined up as well as I could, so I haven't taken a picture of the finished neckline.

I forgot to take it off differential feed, so I inadvertently sewed the shoulders on a slightly gathered setting, but it was OK.

I bound the sleeves, which was OK until I ran out of binding.  It's a bit of a botch at the back.

Lots of little niggles, but wearable under a jumper.




Total crafty things this year: 23

Sewing based makes: 15;
Inner pad for foot muff; make cover for foot muff;  trim down Superking Duvet to KS and recover edges;
Cushion cover for Miss T; Gift bags for Miss T and GDK;
Dressing Gown;
Cat Duvet, Duvet Cover and Pillowcase;
Cushion cover for living room;
Sleeveless tops (x4);
Overlocker chicken

Learning activities: 7;  

Non sewing based craft makes: 1. 




Thursday 4 March 2021

Sewcial chicken

We had a Babylock Zoom Sewcial last night, and Jane showed us how to make little stuffed chickens  on an overlocker.

I played around afterwards to add more detail (like wattles,  and moving the comb, and trying other optios with the tail) to see if I could make a hen representing Annie.    I'm nearly there.  I need to do another version, and then I need to stuff and add eyes.



Total crafty things this year: 21
(Sewing based makes: 13;   learning activities: 7;  Non sewing based craft makes: 1. )

Monday 1 March 2021

Adieu Annie

Annie died today.

Annie was 5 years old, and was a solid, rugged girl.    She was a harem baby, half sister to Barbara who died about this time last year.   She was a lovely independant lady, very intelligent,  and I will miss her very much.  She was very vocal when she came from the allotment last year, and took a while to settle in to life in the garden.

I'm lucky that she left us with one daughter, Elizabeth, who is very much like her mum in looks and temperament.

She was "not right" yesterday. It looked like she might be coming back into lay and she had the demeanour of a hen brewing a softie.    I gave her some Nutridrops, and left her quietly in the coop.

Last night, she went into a different coop, the one with the Oldies,  which she never does normally.  I imagine the rough and tumble of the main coop, where she normally slept, was too much for her and   I imagine she wanted some peace and quiet.  

I checked on her first thing this morning, and I could see that she was slipping away. Her breathing was shallow, she was very still, and her head was down.         I couldn't tell if she was in any pain, but it was evident that she was dying.  This wasn't just a softie thing.  

A bit later, I asked DH to take a look with me.  We decided that it would be better if he culled her.  We couldn't tell if she was in pain,  but we at least if he culled her, it would be over for her.  I stoked her and talked to her, to tell her how much I loved her.  I told her that Elizabeth would carry on her looks and personality,   and that I hoped Barbara (her half sister) would be waiting for her.

I've been expecting a few deaths from the older girls - we have some at 9 and 10 years old - but Annie going was a bit of a shock.  She had some heft to her, so it wasn' a case of her being ill and wasting away, which is a relief in a way.      

It's done now. 

RIP Annie.