Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Omelette for Lunch


We had more than enough eggs for an Omelette for lunch today.
I like Omelette's, might get another one tomorrow if the birds oblige.........

As part of their free range 'training' the new Chickens were all introduced to earth worms at lunch time today and yesterday.

I am not sure most of them knew what a worm was because they could have spent all there lives in runs, but they soon worked it out and now worms are in great demand.

the Hybrids are incredibly tame the White one especially, she can be handled easily already.
Not good if a predator comes along though :( for that you need 'run away' type Chickens.

Our Neighbour Michael delivered another bag of vegetable scraps including some carrots for the ponies and some young lettuce seedlings which went in an instant.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How many chickens can you get in an Eglu?!

Well, there was a chicken sitting on top of the six foot gate after breakfast today, silly Copper flew down into the field and then decided she wanted to go back. Wouldn't fly back in, she had to be herded through the gate. The Barnvelders have started hopping up onto perches now too. We dug up some worms for them at lunchtime, they didn't go for them straight away but once they had the taste they were fighting over them.
Keith opened up the gates and they mixed quite amicably, and then they were separated for bedtime - or so we thought. Answer - There were six chickens in the Eglu! All on top of each other, I pulled three unwilling Hybrids out of the egg hatch one by one and put them back in their own coop.
Had three Barnvelder eggs, one duck egg and one ex-batt egg laid in the straw bales today. At least I think they were all Barnvelder eggs, who knows.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Those that fly.

Today has been an interesting chicken day. The 'Hybrids' can fly, and fly well! They are like naughty children running riot. Charcoal has already been re-named 'Copper' for her copper coloured neck. Personally I would call her Spitfire as she hasn't stopped flying over the fences all day - so much for the quarantine!

Snowdrop has also been to visit the neighbours and Dotty made it over the six foot high netting of the fruit cage. Hmm, think there ought to be a bit of wing clipping tomorrow. The Marans and Barnvelders are much better behaved and polite, although the Marans will put any intruders in their place if they don't keep out of their way. The ex-batts were most upset that I gave the other chickens some meal worms this morning, not that most of them realised they were for eating. Gladys especially was sticking her head through the wire to get to any that were close enough for her to eat, and had a bit of a tiff with one of the Barnstormers, Sorry, Barnvelders.
The polite chickens went to bed on their own tonight, the naughty children had to be unceremoniously caught by any available appendage and shoved in the coop. It will certainly keep me fit chasing those chickens round the field, especially the first few days they are let loose. I hope they don't decide to roost in the shrubbery amongst the berberis bushes - ouch!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

And there's more!!

Here are our three new girls, 'Dotty', a Speckledy, 'Snowdrop', a Sussex Star and 'Charcoal', a Black Rock. All are hybrids that we bought from a  breeders sale at a store in Welshpool.
All hens have settled in reasonably well, but one of the Marans died overnight for no apparent reason. She had been eating and drinking last night, did not appear unwell at all, just one of those things.
So now we have enough chickens to keep us going for a while, should have a good mix of coloured eggs.

This is the veg plot split into three for quarantine and 'get-to-know-you' purposes. The ducks keep visiting and so does Gladys, who is making herself known VERY LOUDLY!
Still haven't named the Barnvelders but Ruby and Faye have been suggested for the combs, one bright red and one a bit faded, (Faye - faded, get it?). Suggestions welcome.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

More on the new Chickens

The new trios are quarantined in separate runs in the veg plot.
Although unlikely, we don't want to risk introducing any unexpected diseases to the others. Eventually they will all be sleeping in the Shed together and that is when they will have to establish a pecking order.

Best advice seems to be let them get used to seeing each other for a while then put them all in together one night and let them get on with it and only isolate any bird that gets pecked excessively.

The trick after the first night or two is to get them out of the shed early in the morning to avoid excess fighting in the shed they can then establish the new pecking order in the run or field and any lower ranked bird can run and hide.

I also read that the ex bats may never have seen different colour Hens before so that could be a bit of a shock, keeping them separated but in plain sight would solve that. the ex bats weren't bothered by the Ducks though!

I am glad we are doing the new introductions at this time of year I don't think I would want to be out supervising introductions at the crack of dawn in the summer.

Anyway we now have nine large fowl Chickens, with room for three more in the current shed then that's it till age or illness takes its toll and some replacements are required, I think we will stick to buying hens in threes though.

However at the auction today were dozens of Bantams, gorgeous little birds
and we have a 4M x 2M x 2M Poly tunnel frame that would make an ideal Chicken Tractor to keep them in.

That would then get the smaller lawns under control as well, as I said at the start of this blog if I can find a way of never mowing again it will have all been worth it.

Bubble noticed the new arrivals first and called over reinforcements.
At one point the Ducks were all lined up examining the Barnvelders from on high!

Bed Time

 Maybe not!

Rusty explaining to Sooty that the Shetland Ponies will not eat them and neither will the Ducks

Err, Sooty and quick......... hide........

Today's Eggs:
Barnvelder on the left
Maran Centre
Ex Bats on the right.

New chickens

We went to Park Hall outside of Oswestry for the poultry auction this morning and came back with half of the chickens we would have liked. Some of the prices went a bit high and some people were obviously determined to buy whatever the price. We still came back with six chickens for just over £15 each, which is a bargain as far as I'm concerned.
 These three are French Copper Blue Marans, thought I would call them Sooty, Dusty and Rusty.
Guess which is which!

 These are Double Laced Barnvelders, there are three but one was laying an egg at the time. Haven't named these yet, have to find a way of distinguishing one from the other.
At the moment they are in separate coops and runs, just until they get used to their new home. Then they can go out in the field with the older hens and the ducks, (which are quite fascinated by them), probably next weekend and then depending on how well they mix, move into the 'Des Res' by the end of the next week.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Would the real General Lee come forward

 Is it a Chicken?

Is it a birthday cake?

Is it a tank?

Or is it

It is not just Chickens that can be found behind wire

During lunch today I installed the VSB automatic coop door opener that I bought from Ebay.

Most of the items used for building the Chicken Shed/Coop, the WIR and the Duck house have come via Ebay and have represented a considerable saving over buying new even though the Chickens shed was actually brand new it was still less than half the price in Argos or Homebase etc.

Anyway I did not take any pictures of the VSB today but whilst watching the Chicken peering out just before it closed it reminded me that it is not just Chickens that can be found cooped up, Here is Alden at the Pageant of Power a couple of years ago

Locked up in Police Van.

Found the Noisy button

Pint sized Riot controller

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Desirable residence, must be seen.

This is the inside of the chickens luxury pad as seen from their point of view. The ground floor has entrance hall, thick layers of wood shavings, and off to the left, a nest box with blackout curtain and room for up to three hens at a time, comes with drop down door to stop nest-hogging at night!
Sturdy ladder leads to the upper floor comprising of poo trays to avoid nasty things falling on unsuspecting room mates, one straight perch and one real beautifully sanded real oak perch with window for extra ventilation on your left.

 On the outside, another sturdy ladder leads into a secured run where breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are available. The outside of the nest box can be seen on the right. This has a lift up lid to allow removal of eggs. (At the moment weighted down with a large log to prevent unwanted intruders!) At the rear is a large door to allow maid service.

Actually, I had to throw the hens in, they were not to sure about the ladder and they are all in the Eglu tonight. The nest box needs some stronger catches than supplied and Keith is going to fit an automatic door opener to both sheds so I don't have to get up at 5-o-clock in the morning to let them out.
Took the ponies out for lunch this afternoon, they stopped at every fast food restaurant on the way but they only had salad!
(We took them for a walk and they insisted on stopping every few yards for some real grass.)
Had scrambled duck eggs for breakfast, not the same as chicken eggs, Keith likened it to a souffle. Think I prefer chicken eggs for scrambling and keep the duck eggs for baking.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Almost there

Today, we have moved the greenhouse from the platform onto the lawn. Apart from taking up quite a bit of room, there is the problem of hungry ponies and sheep barging their way in and eating all the plants, tomatoes, strawberries etc. when its too hot to keep the door closed. Now the ponies have a much larger standing space. A lot of the slabs needed taking up and levelling, Peter, David and I did that, it gave me a chance to dig up the parsley that had self seeded and some Pineapple lily bulbs that had grown from seeds dropped down in the cracks years ago when the parent plants were in the greenhouse after they had flowered. Every year they came up and flowered, and I was surprised how big the bulbs were. I hope they don't die on me now.
We also rescued some newts, a mother and three babies and three other adults that the chickens, very interested in all the bugs under the slabs, were attacking. All relocated to a damp, stony, shaded part of the garden. We find loads of newts in the garden, all common ones and never very close to the pond.
Keith has been working on the chicken house. It has a pop hole now and a shelf for the droppings under the perches that he is making from an oak branch that Peter brought home on his dog walking expeditions. Getting the bark off it is harder that he thought and I think he may give up soon. It should all be up and running tomorrow, the hardest part may be getting the chickens to accept it as their new home and get them out of the Eglu that they have been in ever since they arrived over a year and a half ago. (Gosh, it feels longer!) Gladys is fine now, she has been making nests in the straw bales today. Trying to keep her away from the corn but almost impossible as the chickens are in charge and the ducks just get pecked. The chickens get first serving of everything and the ducks have what is left.
Haven't seen Funny Bunny or our Pheasant for days, I hope they are alright.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Snow and a poorly hen

 There's some chickens hiding in the shelter. It started snowing just as I went out yesterday morning, and carried on till the early afternoon. Probably just short of an inch worth.

 Silly ponies will not use the shelter, so they have been iced.
Anyway, also yesterday my hen Gladys was looking rather unwell, which was not good as we have just lost a duck. We thought she might be cold as she has been moulting again, or egg bound which is nasty. So Keith brought the dog cage into the bathroom and I put some straw, water and a bit of porridge laced with cod liver oil and cider vinegar in as well. Left her to warm up a bit but still wasn't looking too good, so decided to give her a warm bath which is something many people recommend as a first step if your hen is having problems laying an egg. (Mentioned it to my Mum and she likened it to a birthing pool!) While stroking her, keeping her wings firmly clamped to her sides and holding round the chest, I noticed that her crop was quite hard, Aah, she's crop bound. Checked with the Haynes manual, (Yes, they do one for chickens too) and the Internet. Dried her off and with Keith's help got a small syringe, the one I had for getting the boys medicine down them when they were babies, and squeezed some olive oil down her throat and a bit of water. Massaged her crop gently and put her back in the cage. I was not going to hang her upside down and squeeze the offending matter out of her. Not if I could help it, I would probably choke the poor girl to death instead.
Alden gave me several good reports after he came home from school, as to how she was doing and she certainly seemed perkier. Put a cover over her for the night and this morning she was fine. She had eaten all her porridge, had a poo and was scratching around in the straw. The lump had gone so she went back outside as it's turned quite mild today, so mild I've had the chickens sunbathing!
So here's Gladys in her luxury hospital room. I will have to check her tomorrow as all three chickens have been driving the ducks away from their afternoon treat of mixed corn and eating it themselves. As if it's not hard enough for the ducks to run the gauntlet of the Piggy ponies, they have to try and fend off the Beastly beaks of the three macho chickens! And boy, do they go for them when there's food involved, the ducks just run away.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Oh dear.

This morning I opened up the duck shed and found my Indian Runner, Cherokee, had passed away during the night. She was laying on a soft shelled egg so whether she was having internal trouble or had bronchitis, which can cause soft eggs, I don't know. Yesterday she was a bit mopey, wasn't following the others around and wouldn't come in for her afternoon feed. I knew then she wasn't right. Keith and I caught her and had a look, didn't appear to be anything wrong and she flapped about a lot and gave me a face full of feathers. We don't know how old she was or even if the egg under her was hers but she certainly had a lovely time here while she was with us.
The ducks seem to be quite happy with their new quarters, coming up to feed every now and then, providing the ponies are away. Had another proper egg today aswell, that makes four good and two soft ones.
The chickens are doing well, at least one a day sometimes two, though whether Gladys will ever stop laying in the black coop I dont know.
The sheep are getting braver, especially Mars, when Keith goes down to feed them their sugarbeet mix. They come right up to the feeder before running off a short way, Mars has a quick bite just as the last bit is tipped in before his girlfriends butt him out of the way.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Phase three.

So here we have it,the Eglu has been relocated inside the new run, and also the other coop (which you can't see in these pictures), as Gladys will only lay her eggs in that one. Two chicken eggs today, no duck eggs that we have found.
Yes, that is an old roadworks sign on the shed being used as a temporary door for the ducks.On the right is a ramp out into the field which is closed up at night and the shelter has the straw, hay and chicken/duck food to keep it dry and somewhere for the birds to go in the rain, of which we have had a continuous downpour all day. The black rubber trug, made from a recycled tyre, is big enough for one duck to get in and have a splash about in, the ducks love it and it gets very muddy very quickly. Not sure how long the greenery is going to last, most of it is Thyme so at least it will be good for them, and I have dug a clump up to plant elsewhere.
The chickens went to bed as if they had always lived there, the ducks just needed a stern word and off they flapped up the ramp tripping over each other as usual. (Ducks don't like steps.)
The chicken shed needs to be attached now ready for some more chickens that we hope to get at a local auction on the 23rd.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

WIR Update

A really grey and gloomy day today so the light began to fail quite early this afternoon, not good when there's lots to do!

However the run is now fully enclosed, it has its wire roof which lined up perfectly with the slot I made so all the mesh was easy to secure, a gate, a large pop hole opening out into the paddock complete with inner ramp come trap door and a loose laid  brick skirt all around to fill the gaps and prevent digging under.

The Duck shed has been relocated to it new permanent position but we ran out of time to put a pop hole in it so we bribed the ducks to come through the external pop hole with food and a bit of gentle persuasion courtesy of a tesco carrier bag on a long stick.

They are in the run or rather in the shelter on a clean bed of of straw for tonight.

Tomorrow we will feed them in there as well and then let them out later and hopefully tomorrow afternoon when it is snack time they will return willingly if so we will do the same as today lock them in early till they are used to it.

The boys all worked hard today.

One of the Ducks laid an egg in their shed this morning which David had scrambled for breakfast the egg was cold when I picked it up so must have been on the floor for a while.
Amazing with 16 webbed feet it did not get broken!

We had two Chicken eggs today as well a double is the first this year so at least two of the Chickens haven't conked out yet!

Tomorrows forecast is wet wet and more wet with a possibility of snow:(

However for the first time in weeks I can do most of the work I need to under cover. i.e. I will be inside the shed!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Our first duck egg.

At last, the event we have been waiting for, our first duck egg. Now what do we do with it?
Keith found it in the mud when he was putting the ducks away for the night this evening, it was still warm so someone must have laid it on the dash back to the duck shed for the night. Ducks are supposed to lay first thing in the morning, so I'm wondering how many other egg's may have been laid that we missed and the Crows have had.
Still, it will make a very small omlet, perhaps a couple of muffins or just one boiled egg to squabble over. Lets hope there is another one tomorrow.
Gladys, meanwhile, is still laying, at least I will have enough chicken eggs for the weekend.
Funny thing happened yesterday, I fed the ducks their corn in the afternoon up on the platform by the greenhouse as the ponies were in the other field and I took the chance not to wade through the mud. They happily came up and ate most of it before waddling off back to the pond or sifting through the mud. There was some left over, spilt on the ground that I left in case they came back. Well they didn't but a pigeon did, you should have seen Ja-Ja move, he's the Runner Drake, He saw off that bird as if to say 'That's mine and my girl's treat, Clear off!'. Three times he saw that pigeon off and Duck Norris just sat back with a 'You're faster than me, you deal with it.'
Had about half an inch of snow yesterday morning, mostly gone by lunchtime but it was very slippery out here once a few cars had gone by and compressed it. Then it poured with rain again last night and blew a gale, so the feild is floating again today.

Frosty the Snowland Pony

Here is a picture sent in from Linda, Pixies previous owner.
She has a rather frosty nose, Pixie not Linda that is!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

What's that gap for....

If I have my sums right the Heras Security panel forming the roof of the WIR should fit in that gap I have left at the top front of the shelter.....

Anyway that will be next weekends job so will be making a door!

Target date for it to be usable 23rd Feb.

Phase two complete

 Moved as many of my snowdrops as I could today. The sheep are nibbling the new shoots and they are poisonous, so they are in the front garden now. Some clumps have disappeared completely, I think the mice have eaten the bulbs.
The daffs will have to wait, a lot of them have not appeared this year, probably rotted, the ones that are left are getting trampled when they first come through but as they get bigger they seem to survive better.

Well, there is now guttering along the back of the roof into a water butt, guaranteed to stop the rain!! The sides are filled in and the front finished to make it ,hopefully, waterproof. Next, the wire roof is going on the top of the wire panels to make the run for the birds.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The chicken run under construction

This was the morning.....
 Bouncer was very interested in what was going on. The drill made him jump once or twice but didn't frighten him off. Pixie was there to back him up, so he had to be brave.

 Returned from taking Alden to a party this afternoon and found the roof on. Well done boys!
Somewhere for the chickens to shelter when it's raining, and store some of the straw. Might even put a dust bath under there for them. Goodness knows what the Disco Ducks will make of it all, they will probably put up a rope queue and charge non-residents for entry. Duck Norris would make a great bouncer.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Building a Dinosaur from a Chicken!

Yes apparently you will be able to one day!
This link is to one of the many fantastic short and excellent videos on

Jack Horner: Building a dinosaur from a chicken 

I hope you like it

On Guard

Oi! my turn says Bouncer:

Big Stretch :

 On guard as he rests: