Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

Suicidal chickens don’t have happy endings!

You may recall that way back in the depths of June (you know, “summer”) I blogged about our two new Warren hens, Maude and Mildred. For the most part, they were settling in when Mildred decided that the grass was infinitely greener on the other side of the electric netting. Whenever my back was turned, she found a way to get out but for some reason, could never find a way to get back in, so I was constantly on Midge-watch, lest her terrier instincts point her in the direction of a free and (relatively) easy meal.

I cut Mildred’s wing feathers, made sure the netting was tight and not sagging, but she still kept getting out. So I wasn’t surprised when, a week after she started auditioning for Chicken Run, I went to check on the chooks and there was only one set of brown bum feathers shaking their thing in the grass.

It would be nice to think that she’s now running wild and will one day meet a handsome cockerel so they can raise a brood of feral chickens, but the somewhat more likely answer is that she fed a fox…

Mildred - 1 July 2009

Mildred - 1 July 2009

Since then, Maude has been fully accepted into the flock, though I have started calling her Hetty. I don’t know why, but I kept forgetting whether she was Maude or Mildred and whenever I went to talk to her, “Hetty” just fell off my tongue.

Whatever she’s called, she has started laying – big beautiful eggs that look and taste like sunshine in a shell. Delicious

Hetty - 27 July 2009

Hetty - 27 July 2009

In other chicken related news, the three Pekin and Silkie chicks who hatched in April are all boys, so they’ll be for the pot later this month.

And Xander, our young Buff Orpington cockerel, is looking mighty fine! He’s very handsome and is still extremely friendly, though thankfully he no longer tries to jump into my arms!

He’s done nothing but grow, grow, grow over the past few weeks.

This is how he changed in just a month:

Xander - 1 July 2009

Xander - 1 July 2009

Xander and the bantam boys - 27 July 2009

Xander and the bantam boys - 27 July 2009

Once the boys “go”, I’ll put Xander in the with big girls (he’s going to flatten the Silkies and Pekins one of these days!) and poor Flint will have to accept that despite his own exaggerated opinion of his size, he is in fact a Pekin and will have to join the hens who are his own size. I don’t suppose Xander will mind but Flint will be furious!

Captain Flint - 1 July 2009

Captain Flint - 1 July 2009

As it rains, so I return indoors to the blog!

Sorry about the absence, I took advantage of the glorious weather to be a busy bee outside and have rather neglected the blog of late.

So much has been going on, I thought I’d cheat and do a photo update of some of the highlights (yes, yes, I know that you know this is because I’ve actually forgotten what I’ve been up to and the photos I’ve taken are the only reminders…)

For various reasons, I’ve been unable to send any pigs off for slaughter so I’m still feeding eight hungry mouths, which is annoying me somewhat. The only good thing about it is that little Curly is rapidly growing so we should get some decent meat from him when his time comes. Which it had better do soon! Oh, I lie, there is one other piece of good news about Pinky and Curly’s delayed departure: they’ve cleared a massive patch of brambles for me! In fact, I’ve had to totally adjust their fence so that they’ve got something to eat as they’ve completely exhausted their original patch:

Curly and Pinky - 22 June 2009

Curly and Pinky - 22 June 2009

We have two new hens: Maude and Mildred, a pair of Warren POLs (point of lay) who are approximately 20 weeks old. The others are being extremely mean to them but I’m hoping they’ll settle in soon.

Maude - 22 June 2009

Maude - 22 June 2009

It was a no-go with Willow and her Maran and Light Sussex eggs. Not a single one hatched. I did think that they weren’t warm enough to the touch quite early on during her incubation, but there was nothing I could so except wait and see. Thankfully, she got off her nest when I (gingerly) took the eggs away, but right on cue, Speckle went broody! She’s been in the broody ark all week and I’ve been promised some Light Sussex eggs, so I’m hoping she’ll settle in and hatch some LS chicks who should be good for laying and the pot…

When the sun next comes out, I’ll try to take some photos of the two new girls. They’re quite camera shy at the moment, not that I blame them!

Did I mention that it’s been hot, hot, hot? Here’s the evidence: even Fergie, who hated getting muddy, has been spotted frequenting the local wallow:

Fergie - 23 June 2009

Fergie - 23 June 2009

And Midge, the dog who also hates getting muddy and wet, has completely shocked me with her choice of Favourite Game:

Midge - 24 June 2009

Midge - 24 June 2009

B’s cat is a bit of an idiot:

Horatio - 24 June 2009

Horatio - 24 June 2009

But I can’t talk. Just look at my dog:

Snipe - 24 June 2009

Snipe - 24 June 2009

And here she is again, this time with her new toy:

Snipe - 25 June 2009

Snipe - 25 June 2009

So that’s what I’ve been up (not to mention everything I’ve forgotten about).

And you?

Another stunning day

Like the rest of Britain, I barely ventured indoors yesterday, choosing instead to bask in the glorious sunshine. B and I scrubbed out the Eglu and Cube in the morning, thoroughly dusting them with Red Mite powder. Buffy, one of the Buff Orpington hens, has managed to get herself a little infestation, so we gave her a good dusting as well. The others seem clean, so we saved them the indignity, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on them all, just in case.

By the time we’d finished, Jennie and her clan arrived and that marked the beginning of a truly wonderful afternoon. Nothing special happened, it was just one of those days where everything goes the way you want it to. The pigs, dogs and children all behaved themselves (more or less) and we just chilled. Perfect!

Unfortunately, there was a dark cloud looming.

As I turned out of the farm lane to go home, I saw a 4×4 approaching, following a ewe and her lamb. I started to drive off and then remembered the vegetable garden. The unfenced vegetable garden.

The “rule” with loose livestock is that you push them down the nearest entrance to get them off the road. But, if you are told that the animal doesn’t belong at that farm, it’s generally considered polite to help get them off the property, not stand there gawping while someone runs back down the lane in the baking heat, does some shepherding, and then runs back down the lane after the sheep, especially when they ask not once, not twice but three times for help! If that does happen, please expect the very hot, sweaty and tired runner/shepherd to be extremely pissed off. Do not, under any circumstances, make matters worse by lying (“I didn’t push them down your lane”) and then shout “why don’t you come over here and we’ll sort it out now”. Funnily enough, I declined the invitation to have a stand up fight in the middle of the road, especially given the running I’d just done, and instead got back in the car and drove off, much to the relief of the many cars who were at a standstill due to my bad parking.

Ho hum, I fumed all the way home, but the day was still too glorious to be cross, and a cool shower washed away my bad feelings along with the dirt and grime.

The day finished on a high note: dinner and not one but two bowls of chocolate ice cream at Jennie’s that evening. Hurrah!

Bank holiday sunshine

Ok, so maybe the sun didn’t shine yesterday, but boy, was it hot on Sunday!

Brini and Scrumpy - 24 May 2009

Brini and Scrumpy enjoy their fresh grass. I moved the pair (and Fergie and Perky!) onto new ground on Sunday afternoon.

Pinky - 24 May 2009

Pinky made the most of her wallow

Potato patch - 25 May 2009

The potato patch is coming along well. Not sure when I should start earthing up though

Molly's eggs - 25 May 2009

Molly the Pekin bantam has started laying her eggs in the grass outside. Thing is, she's laying in the grass in the big chickens' run, not her own!

Enjoying the sunshine

Forgive the picture-heavy post. I don’t seem to have woken up yet. Uploading photos from yesterday seems like the most sensible route to take, if a degree of coherence is ……. nope, can’t finish the sentence. Need more coffee!

Snail - 23 May 2009

An early morning visitor

Scrumpy tries to get to Perky's food - 23 May 2009

Scrumpy tries to get to Perky's food but doesn't get very far!

Bailey - 23 May 2009

Bailey enjoys the fresh grass

Tia - 23 May 2009

Tia enjoys it even more

The chicks and Xander - 23 May 2009

The chicks and Xander have finally become friends

Oh no, not another cockerel who thinks he’s a parrot!

Xander, the newbie Buff Orpington cockerel, is settling in well, though the hens are still furious at him for reasons he doesn’t understand and they are bullying him mercilessly. Course, he’s only a baby, so he’s torn between the desire to socialise with the other chicks and the fear that he’ll be told off for simply breathing the same air as his companions. Boy, am I glad I put him with the Pekins and Silkies, not the Buffs and Light Sussex hens! At least he’s the same size as the little ‘uns!

Xander - 19 May 2009

Xander is a bit of a poser!

One positive outcome of his rough treatment is that he’s decided I am his saviour, the kind two-legs-no-feathers who picks him up and gives his a few minutes of respite. As a result, he doesn’t just come running when he sees me approaching, he moves with the speed of light. Whereas the others hang around long enough to see if I have anything for them and vanish the instant it becomes apparent that there’s nothing forthcoming, but he follows me about like a shadow, genuinely pleased to see me for my own sake, not that of his stomach!

Jo and Xander - 19 May 2009

It's funny and sweet when Flint does this. I'm not sure I like the idea of Xander doing the same thing when he's fully grown!!

As for the eggs that Willow’s sitting on, there are now only ten eggs, not the dozen she started out with. For some reason, she let two get cold, so that’s the last time I put a dozen eggs under a broody hen, even a Buff Orpington. Typically, both eggs were by the pure Marans, so I’ve only got four chances to get some now! Ah well, t’is the way it goes. Even if they were in an incubator, there’s no guarantee that everything would work properly. I’ll give them to the dogs, which will make them the most expensive breakfast eggs they’ve ever tasted!!

Meet Xander!

We’ve finally got a replacement for our much-missed Buff Orpington cockerel, Fat Boy. This is Xander, the new kid on the block, a 10 week old Buff Orpington who I bought on Sunday afternoon.

Xander the Buff Orpington with the Bantams and Silkies - 18 May 2009

Xander the Buff Orpington with the Bantams and Silkies

He’s a bit small to go in with the big chickens so he’s going to live with the Pekins and Silkies until he’s bigger. This is probably wise as the hens are all beating him up, which is sadly only to be expected. Better it comes from hens their size than the Buff hens!

He’s called Xander as all the Buffs are named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (original, aren’t we?!) and although I had been hoping to call him Rupert, the fact that he leaps into arms whenever I’m around so I can protect him reminds me of Xander from the early seasons!

In other news, Willow has been broody for ages so I’ve bought some fertilised eggs to put under her: half a dozen Maran eggs and half a dozen Light Sussex, though those might be Maran crosses as the person I got them said that her ladies went walkies and she found them in with her Maran cockerel. Oops! Still, I don’t really mind, especially as I got a really good deal for them as a result!

I moved Mama Silkie out of the broody ark and into the Eglu with Xander and the other bantams and Silkies and having cleaned it out, put Willow in there yesterday morning. She wasn’t happy about the move, so I left her for the day to settle down and finally put the eggs under her in the afternoon. I hope she’s still sitting today! If all is successful, the eggs should hatch on or around 8 June.

Keep your fingers crossed!