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Updated: Tuesday 31 December 2013
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Henny has been helping out with the gardening...
There's green fly on those lupins you know.
Good morning to all. It's 9.15 on a bright sunny Sunday morning. I'm wearing shorts and sunglasses (and they are necessary) and have recently breakfasted on the decking. The second cup of coffee is going down rather well.
All good then.
As the sun is out, Henny is sunbathing...and sneaking into the kitchen...and sun bathing right in front of the kitchen door so you can't open it...and...well okay, she's into everything - why not, there are only so many hours in the day for chicken business?
When the sun is out...
Of course breakfasting in the garden with chickens wandering about is never going to be incident free and this morning was no different. Me, a plate, toast and a Pekin bantam named Rosie. We've been there before, several times in fact and as I sat down I could see it coming again. The neck was stretching, interest gleaming in the eyes. With a flap and a leap I had a bantam on my knee. A moment later, she'd nabbed the last bit of toast I was holding and disappeared into the herb patch. A four chicken chase ensued, but the little lavender bird held onto her prize. The chives now have a chicken shaped trample hole directly through the middle.
The Faverolles are out from their pen. The netting has gone and they are free to explore and make friends. They aren't making friends as such. Not yet. Whilst the netting was up, the Favs were pretty much ignored and this continued for about three minutes before the chasing and pecking and flying bantam leaping began (it's the only way they can reach). It took Rosie quite a while to walk around Bailey (very small bird / very big bird). She started at the front, wandered all the way around and assessed the situation before having a go and sending a spooked Fav running for cover. Bailey has plucked up the courage to have a go back, but Henri legs it if another chicken even gets close.
Seeing that her bantam army wasn't having full success in seeing off the interlopers, Henny has taken on the battle. This involves pecking, chasing, stealing their food and dust bathing in their run. Just because she can.
The FavsAnd if the Favs are being photographed; see them off get in on the action:
The Favs are settling in quite nicely mind. I wouldn't say they're the smartest of birds.They've not quite figured out that a chicken can go around things, instead choosing to try to go straight through every time. They're supposed to be happy in a run. This isn't true, they want to be out all the time and have to be physically caught in order to get them back in. That's not particularly difficult mind as they are quite partial to a cuddle.
We do however have beard [facial feather? / must think of something non-beardy, but beard works] issues. Bailey and Henri seem to cover themselves in water every time they drink, sometimes going so far as dunking their whole heads (don't ask why I haven't a clue). This means that they have lovely clean fluffy feathers and a head that looks like it's been dunked in muck. Bathing them is going to be interesting. We need to get an alternative drinker that doesn't allow dunking.
Right, time for a cup of tea - Sunday isn't really a day for doing things.
Henny. Ex-bat hen. Honorary bantam. Would be adventurer.
The world really must really be an interesting place for a little ginger hen who likes to explore. A shed for example. For you and I a place of little real interest. There's a lawnmower, various tools and miscellaneous junk that probably should have been chucked out, but to Henny it's a place of untold wonders. A place to which entry must be obtained at each and every opening of the door.
There are times we we hadn't even realised she was in there. The door had been shut, other business attended to. Only then did we notice the absence of our ginger hen. We found her gazing from the window of the shed, looking hopefully for someone to open the door. One to watch in future. Don't just lock the shed door, check for Henny first.
Then the kitchen - through of course another door. Whilst admittedly sort of cute, chicken entry into the kitchen is generally frowned upon. Vague threats of "you know what tikka sauce is famous for" however just don't seem to work. In fact nothing short of shutting the damn door seems to work (we've tried various other blocks; shoes, a large pink trug, a minefield) - nothing works. However the kitchen does have one almost mystical item. The wonderful magical barrier of silver metal that joins the tiled kitchen floor with the wooden floor of the lounge and dining room. No chicken has crossed it. Not ever.
Henny has. Over she went, past the dining table, looking this way and that with a happy little cluck. A glance at the sofa and the rug, but ooooh another door. Well a hen has to see what might be behind it. And more doors! And steppy things that go up.
We eventually retrieved the little bird from the middle of the bath (I do believe she fell in whilst attempting to munch an indoor plant).
And so many other places a hen can play; the wood-store (good for all manner of bugs), behind the shed and behind the garden sofa (as I write this on said sofa, Henny is behind it). But surely no hen would want to go down the side of the house? - the long narrow corridor that not even the sun dares to enter; the place that's filled with just the unfortunate few leaves the wind has seen fit to banish?
But there's a gate at the end. A gate is a little like a door. And we know what Henny thinks about doors...
In a way she's sort of right. They were made to walk through. And walk through it she did, pecking at the odd weed here and there that had, until that point, escaped the clutches of Mrs C. We didn't notice at first, you know with using the pressure washer to clean the car (which along with the long rubber hose type thing, chickens are quite chicken about). But unperturbed, Henny continued to explore. She has seen the front door and has wandered about the underside of a Mini. Despite being returned to the garden, she sneaked her way back another three times before we'd completed the chore at hand.
And to finish off the day, perhaps a little al-fresco dining:
Even though we're not quite there, it's all feeling a lot like summer. The sky is blue, the sun is out. By early evening the scent of a barbeque is never more than fifty foot away. As well as this the car windscreen is covered in bugsplat and it's so hot we're having to sleep with the windows open. This however means you don't need an alarm clock. Naughty chickens provide that service.
At least they did this morning, why is it always on a Sunday? - do they have a planner tacked to the inside of their Eglu? - Monday ensure those tasty looking hostas get munched, Tuesday must remember to have a dust bath between wreaking havoc on the herb patch and devoting an hour or two to infiltrating the kitchen. Ooooh, Sunday; make sure those humans don't get a lie in.
It is good to see the back of winter mind. The bantam bunch are certainly much happier. They were not at all impressed by the chilliness of winter, pretty much hibernating through it all; sulking and moping about and not really interested in anything (corn excepted of course).
It has all been very different since the clocks changed and the days got longer. The naughtiness is well and truly back. Maisie however did take moment from chaos making to join me for a cup of tea. She seemed to quite like it.
There's been some change in the naughty chicken garden too. Poor Red is no longer with us (a story for another time, but if anyone by some chance has some money they'd like to give away, the PDSA clinic would certainly be a worthy recipient). As such Henny has become an honorary bantam, and subsequently commander in chief. It should perhaps be a worry when a chicken gets a little army, though it seems her lot lack a little something...obedience.
And she gets to play fun games; knocking bantams from the perch is a favourite - fun and enables her to obtain a position of choice.
This left an empty Eglu. So what did Mrs C suggest should be done with it...?
...meet the new Faverolles - Baily and her little cohourt Henri(etta). I need to come up with a description for their feathery faces that isn't beard. We don't really want to be heading into bearded lady freak show territory.
They arrived yesterday morning from Mini Meadows Farm and are settling in relatively well. Henri is being a particularly large wuss where pecking order establishment is concerned, making a meal out of the slightest hint of a look, but they are both lovely (big) fluffy birds. Henri in particular is a bird who's quite happy just to sit on your knee and watch the world.
And we've even had two eggs, albeit with considerable hullaballoo about where it was going to be laid. A rubber egg in the near box eventually persuading Henri that it was indeed ok.
That should do it for today.
Time I think for an update to happenings in the Naughty Chicken garden. There has in fact been relativly good chicken behaviour. This isn't normal. Not at all...not in this garden...they must be up to something...and this has me slightly concerned.
But don't be thinking they've all grown glowing little rings that hover and twinkle just above their combs. Let's take Henny for example, our little ginger ex-bat who frequently breaches the netted area in which they roam. She knows she shouldn't (she has of course been told), but this doesn't stop her she just gets a bit more...what's the word....ah yes, sneaky.
I'll elaborate; Mrs C was on the phone (probably talking kittens - we'll come to that!) when she noticed a certain little ex-bat in a place said certain little ex-bat shouldn't be. With no major carnage being wrought upon the garden Mrs C finished her call before going to sort out latest escapade. But by then Henny wasn't outside of the netting she was back inside giving Mrs C that curious slighly wonky look and clucking the chicken equivalent to an innocent whistle.
One little ex bat that is certainly learning mischief. And loving the sun too on those infrequent occasions it decides to peep out from between the clouds. Whenever it does, Henny seems to find her way onto the bench at the bottom of the garden for a nice bit of sun worship (usually followed by Red who prefers to be lifted up onto the bench as jumping seems far
Right then. Kittens. I wholly blame TBIL and his fioncee for this predicament. They got themselves two fluffy little kittens, one of which was a little too feisty for the dog and had to go back - but not before he asked Mrs C if she wanted a playful little grey kitten. For various reasons it didn't work out but the idea has been planted and it does appear to be growing...
The great grey beast of February was how a favourite author of mine once described this month. Christmas is now a memory and seems so long until the promise of some sunny warmth - it really is apt for many. It's my birthday soon mind (and Mrs C's just a few days before that) so February's really not so bad for us. Except of course the getting older, somehow that part has long since ceased too be amusing.
That said January wasn't so pleasant for The Naughty Chicken house. We lost not one but two of the girls. Somehow we always seem to lose them in twos. First Penny the ex-batty bird fell, ill. She went quickly, we couldn't get the poor little bird to eat or drink and she died not long after midday. It does seem unfair her time was so short, but at least the inquisitive little bird had some time to discover eating grass and ransacking gardens even if it really wasn't enough.
And then the end of an era...Wilma chook the last of the original Naughty Chickens died last weekend. She was five years old, not so bad at all for a hybrid and she had indeed been looking older and older recently. Not that it stopped her jumping up to get at the corn from your hand, or even dented her desire to be first out of the Eglu every single morning no matter what (the old girl did like to get first troughings at the feeder each morning...and seconds...and thirds...).
She had been at death's door twice before over the years and it seemed certain on each of those times that we would lose her so it was in part a bit of a relief that she went over night in her sleep at least she wasn't ill. I should have known something was up. The night before when we moved the birds from the nest box (as we have to do EVERY single night) she seemed particularly against the idea off moving to the point that I had to pick her up and move her onto the roosting bars myself. I sort of wish I'd given her one last night sleeping in the best box material...
I don't wish to dwell too much she had a good run.
Onto other things and snow is forecast tonight. We have an amber warning from the Met Office which might well mean nothing happens at all. We are going to see Snow Patrol tonight though...I really am being serious.
This does pose the problem of when to clean the chickens out...today when it's now somewhere around -5 to -6 or tomorrow when there could well be a good covering of snow. Hmmmm choices, choices. I'll start with breakfast and we'll see where things go...
Yes. This one. She had a perfectly good opportunity to have a good day about her chicken business but instead spent the whole time searching for somewhere to lay a little egg.
This isn't new. She's done it before. Frequently. But we really didn't expect the daft little bird to be pulling the stunt this early in the year.
And yes she checked us out too, jumping on Mrs C's head and my shoulder. I'd really love to know the thought process.
And I can absolutely say it wasn't a mucky nest box because we'd just cleaned out the coop.
But we did eventually get an egg despite all the hullabaloo.
This by the way is the first post i've made on the new Blogger mobile app. I suspect the pictures from my phone might not be so good and it'll be interesting to see where they appear as there doesn't seem to be any way to move them around.
Oh well, i'm happy with new toys.
We're into deep, dark January. And it certainly is dark, horrible and windy. Not a fun month for some and in particular a certain set of naughty chickens who don't get out to play enough for their liking. Due to the seemingly never ending night that I've spent a good time whinging about already, it's weekends only for chicken playtime which limits (or perhaps compresses?!) naughty chicken business.
Indeed they're either behaving better or getting up to mischief I haven't seen which isn't really so handy when writing blogs about their antics...
Despite all this dark horribleness and non-chicken friendly wind that even caused Wilma and company to baulk at getting up one morning our egg tally has increased. I know this because Mrs C now has a chicken calendar with an egg count. She was quite excited when she could fill this in on New Year's day. Not only that but a little yellow Poot monster began crouching again, most unexpectedly and a few days later we had a lovely little Maisie Poot egg. We weren't expecting one over winter so that was nice. I'm sure too that the little bird has re-found her complaining bwark as the weekend coffee in bed is to the backdrop of 'let me now!!' Poot bwarks.
I'm out !!!
All these eggs meant a boiled egg for breakfast this morning. Simple but perfect with a few little twists of salt to make it extra yummy.
We have also discovered that we may perhaps have incorrectly named Little Red. She may have been scrawny and featherly challenged when we got her, but we've since come to realise that she is in fact the biggest ex bat by far (yet still scared of Henny and Penny).
And now it's time to clean them out. I suspect I'll get a little help here and there. You know muddy footprints added to the Eglu right after I've cleaned it followed by a little click that seems to say you've missed a bit there...
Oops (again). It seems the whole of the Christmas build up has passed by without so much as a single naughty chicken blog. I have an excuse of sorts and it's called Lego Batman on the PS3. Mrs C is as bad, she too is obsessed with it and collecting every single item in the game, though her new Christmas phone (that apparently she was only setting up on Christmas Eve!) seems to have distracted her for now...
However there are presents to open, food to prepare and chickens to feed slightly excessively* on a day such as this so happy Christmas to all and hopefully Santa will have left something nice under the tree and not just rain-deer poop on the roof.
* though be wary of feeding them anything too festive such as red cabbage unless you want strange colours coming out from the other end!
December is upon us, the mornings are getting colder and frostier. All over the country advent calendars will be opened by excited children (and Mrs C) and the real countdown to Christmas begins. As it is December it's actually okay to talk about Christmas (I've done what I can to ignore it so far, especially in shops that had decorations up two months ago). This weekend in the Naughty Chicken house a Christmas tree will appear. As this is put up and decorated mince pies will be munched and sherry or quite possibly mulled wine will be sipped.
The year really is hurtling to a close and just to scare you a little, I was informed by someone at work yesterday that there are only three weekends left until Christmas and one of those is about to hit us and disappear quicker than a handful of corn in a chicken run. Which leads me onto a question, what to get chickens for Christmas...?
Have they been naughty...?
....okay, this year the chickens are really going to need that 'Santa Stop Here!' sign that Mrs C hasn't let me buy for them the last four or five years.
When we first started keeping chickens there was little choice - pellets, mash and corn - so we made them a nice big bowl of porridge oats (using hot water, not milk), sprinkled with a few currents and watched the happy beaks tuck in. They'd be contented clucks, excited flapping, porridge flung in all directions (some occasional squabbles), but general all round happiness. And when the the bowl was empty, they'd set to clearing off the bits that landed in feathers.
Now even our local pet store has all manner of chicken related goodies. Pecking blocks, muffins (!), chicken treat mix, perches. Such choices. I wonder what Santa will bring them?
There are a good things about this time of year. Nice warm fires, lovely hearty foods. But dark mornings and evenings I can really do without. It's still dingy when I leave for work, it's black long before I leave, and don't even get me started on the idiots who have lost the ability to drive just because the sun's gone down. But this darkness means I don't really get to see the chickens properly all through the week and to make it worse I have to sort out feeders and drinkers by torch light and that's something I can really do without.
Since our loss of internet, there's been some serious moulting action. Maisie the Poot moulted so much that a week or so back, over a single night her whole tail just disappeared. It was there when she went to roost, looking all big bushy and impressive, but come morning she looked like half the bird she had been. It was too dark to take any decent pictures. We had to wait for the weekend.
As she wasWith a tail growing back
She wasn't at all happy about it, I don't think being dishevelled and growing back feathers is something a sabelpoot likes to do. Fortunately a little rest and some selected moulting chicken treats have done the trick and her tail is well on it's way back. She's still not back to herself just yet, but she's getting there.
Add to that out little millefleur pekin, Willow has finally decided to grow new feathers. She's had a bald head and scruffy feathers for months, so long in fact that we can't even remember when she last had a fully feathered head. A proper moult later and she has wonderfully fluffy feathers with white patches all over them in a way she never had befotre. She's almost a different bird.
And she's quite happy indeed with her new feathers. I'm quite sure she's showing them off. Especially as she struts her way past the ex-bats. Speaking of ex-bats, I'm sure Little Red still wants to be a bantam. When they wander past the ex-bat area, the little red hen is always nearby.
Just checking things out
What do you know?...You wait for ages and get two new posts, one after the other. It's a quick update today. This post was actually written at the start of November, but I forgot to post it...opps. The videos have been on the Naughty Chicken video page for a while now...another opps.
Have you ever come across Hen Tastic Chicken Muffins? They're flavoured with oyster grit and meal worms, but not so big and yes if you look carefully at the picture you'll see the price for 3 of the chicken type treats. I'd seen them before and dismissed them as gimmicky and expensive, but for some reason when I wandered through the pet store and saw them again I thought they sounded like a potentially amusing idea.
I'm not entirely sure I'd buy them again at the price, but what ensued when we gave them to some excited little birds was certainly amusing and definitely worth a one off purchase. The muffins of course didn't last too long (nothing really does near those beaks) and trying to film it resulted in something akin to one of those filmed on a handheld monster movies at the point something beastly attacks. Those feather covered pekin feet can really move...
As for those in the palace, they were a little curios, but rather wary. Wilma chook wasn't mind. She legged it off with half and destroyed it so quickly she was back to swipe most of the other half from birds that had only just plucked up the courage to give it a try. She might be a bit slower these days, but the wily old bird knows how to get the most out of treats.
The internet is back in the Naughty Chicken house. It is quite amazing how much you miss it when it's gone. Shame that our provider from above can't seem to put caller ID on the telephone line mind.
A poorly bummed Penny (and Little Red)Lots has happened, in particular two of the little ex-bats having a trip to the vet which saw funds some £50 lighter (or is that the credit card £50 heavier...?). Penny arrived with us with what looked suspiciously like vent gleet. We've seen that one before unfortunately so we thought it best to take her to the vets. On the same day Henny developed a sniffle. So one little bird had a week on antibiotics and poor Penny got the rubber glove and ear drops (for dogs*) around the backside treatment. It's no wonder she grumbles.
* - our vet prescribed Canural, ear-drops for cats and dogs.
Henny soon picked up and not only that but she's grown a whole lot of lovely fluffy feathers over her back and britches. They've grown so quickly that there's barely a bald spot left. Not too bad in only four weeks. But poor Penny's yeast imbalance didn't seem to be improving too much, so we decided to try a different option to the ear drops...
Henny's fluffy new britchesA quick scout around the internet and talking to people at the National Poultry Show last week confirmed that a thrush cream seems to be the treatment of choice for vent gleet. However, that means going to the chemist to ask for it. I didn't think Mrs C was going to volunteer for that one, so after checking first that we couldn't just pick it up from the shelf and hit the self checkout it was up to me to ask at the pharmacy counter.
I'll admit to not knowing too much about thrush, I was vaguely aware that it can be suffered orally, but thought it pretty much the realm of the ladies when asking for an external cream. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when the pharmacist asked if it was for me. It is after all the first thing they always ask when buying over the counter.
So how did I answer? - I could have nodded, mumbling something or other. Or perhaps said it was for the wife who was loitering close (but not too close). I went for honesty.
"It's for a chicken."
Her face was priceless.
Of course all these treatments mean no eggs from the ex-bats. Well there's eggs, but we can't eat them. It really does feel wrong to chuck them though.
In general the ex-bats are coming along very nicely. We've decided that they're going to stay together in the Eglu rather than moving into the palace with Wilma and company, so today was spent moving plants and shrubs to create the necessary space. Using netting to fence off an area, they now have their own space for mischief and chicken business. In the couple of hours this has been in place there has been furious digging, leaf munching and investigation of everything a chicken could investigate. And they've escaped twice...
It's the end of the world. We have no internet. It's 3G only and we can only get a signal on that if we're in very particular parts of the house.
If you change internet provider and they assure you there will be no loss of service, they are lying.
This means limited naughty chicken updates and a gibbering Mrs C who can't get on Twitter.
It's also frustratingly difficult to write on a tiny little phone.
We'll be going to the National Poultry show this weekend. Never been to a show before. The naughty chickens won't be there. Their feet are far too mucky.
If I try to write any more i'll end up throwing my phone across the room. So until another day (or sometime next week when our internet gets activated...)
I do sometimes wonder about the chicken thought process; what goes on in inside their little feathered heads? Do they think thoughts of corn, grass and worms? Are their thoughts simplistic? - want food -scrat - eat? - Or are they perhaps more complex, involving careful thought, plotting and dastardly plans...?
I'll let you make up your own mind.
Rosie about some plan or otherSo what is happening in the naughty chicken garden? - The ex-bats are turning into naughty chickens. Didn't take long. They come running for corn, cause chaos wherever they roam and have very quickly picked up on the idea of mischief. Such is the level of carnage that they are now having to be kept within an area of their own with netting. The garden simply can't take it any more.
And I was today completely outflanked. Whilst cleaning them out, Henny escaped. She presumably found a way under the netting. You never see it happening. One moment they are where they should be. When you look back barely seconds later they're the wrong side of the net. It's a little unnerving. Whilst one caused a distraction, the other (a still purple bottomed Penny) went running off with my sponge in her beak, clucking happily at a successful heist.
The bantam bunch have noticed all these shenanigans, and are now taking notice of the ex-bats that have invaded a part of their garden. They often stroll past the netting and give the ex-bats a superior look. We're trying to keep ex-bats in the netting and bantams out. We're not really succeeding. You already know the ex-bats are frequently escaping and keeping watch for the bantam food raiding runs is becoming increasingly difficult.
Put some greens in the bantam run and they either ignore them completely or give them an occasional disapproving look down their beak. They are after all feathered footed chicken snobs and like their greens fresh (directly from the plant that's in the ground). But put greens in the ex-bat run and they're on a mission to break in and eat it. We caught three of them in there, tearing away at the greens and sampling ex-bat crumbs between sauntering around the run, gleefully gloating and declaring the territory theirs. The fourth by the way is moulting and not having a happy time. Despite this, she was still inside the ex-bat netting to sit and mope instead of being outside the netting.
I can't keep up.
We're still working on getting the chickens in the palace interested in their new feeder. Today I added just a little corn to the mix, thinking they'd eventually notice it and it's presence would garner some interest. Wilma spotted it instantly. How I have no idea - I've certainly never seen her using the feeder or even giving it a second look.
I was in the shed with the feeder when I filled it up - away from chicken sight, but not from notice. Using a handful of corn to distract the birds I placed the feeder back on it's chain and left it swinging gently. I had barely vacated the palace when the distraction corn was gone. Wilma turned about and instantly set upon the new feeder, carefully flicking away the pellets she wasn't interested in to get at the tasty yellow treat. It wasn't long before they were all at it, and not much longer before it was gone. At which point Wilma left the new feeder and returned to her Grub for a proper trough.
I think I'll give up.
Would you believe it! Little Red, our petrified of other chickens ex-bat came straight out yesterday morning. No hanging around, no squeaking in and around the nest box, no waiting for us to take her out for a private breakfast sitting. Straight out. She was next to other chickens (in the run!) and this didn't bother her. She seemed happy, had a bit of breakfast (and from the Grub too - the brave little bird) and even indulged in a little drink whilst Henny and Penny were using the drinker.
Miracles do indeed happen, though strangely, I will miss the squeaky toy proximity alarm.
...to this in about a weekIt wasn't easy. Mrs C had a five day weekend and spent as much time as possible with the birds, staying with Little Red until she gathered the courage to actually approach the feeder and sometimes holding her in place when another bird came near.
Henny was doing quite a bit of Little Red pecking. She was eating the feathers too. Sometimes a sign of a calcium deficiency, so we've added a supplement to their water.
And of course there was a lot of anti peck spray. We started with the 'nice' stuff - the one that doesn't hang in the air (yes outside) for a couple of days, but it wasn't doing the trick so we shifted tact. Red got a through spraying and proceeded to jump on Mrs C so she got anti peck sprayed too. And the smell sticks, even after repeated washing.
It's amazing really how quickly they have all settled in. On Saturday we'll have had them for two weeks and already they are coming on. The garden is no longer safe - there's random acts of demolition, plants uprooted and half-eaten, stones from the path sprayed here and there and soil spread across the patio and the lawn.
Penny (her with the purple derrière) has a thing for garden implements. Pick one up and she'll be at your feet, eager to help out with any garden task that needs doing. Or perhaps she's realised that worms often get uprooted with garden tools....?
Henny has a thing for the kitchen. She's not yet wandered inside - it's too cold so the door is usually shut, but I have a feeling that she wants to investigate given the chance.
And food. Being little ex-bats we've started them on ex-bat crumbs. It's small, like they're used to and has added nutrients to help them strengthen up and re-grow feathers. We were told they probably wouldn't recognise pellets. They do now. We put a few in their feed to start getting them used to it. The little oiks think they're treats. They throw out the rest of the food now, looking for pellets. We've had to stop adding them, so we can make sure they get the extra goodness in the crumbs. Well that and we've got a 20KG bag we've barely started.
So Project Mingle is officially stamped as a successful mission. Now to integrate them with the other birds in the palace...
...we'll leave that for a bit.
Happy middle of the week to all. It's been a busy one, hence the lack of updates. I'm liking the blogging by email though it does mean no pictures (at first) and a lack of formatting.
We bought a new feeder last week. Belle has a huge head and a huge comb so she finds the Omlet Grub a bit restrictive. Most mornings she tries to get her head in looks a bit perplexed by it all and occasionally tries to scrat at it which of course does nothing at all. So we thought we try her with something else. We went for a hanging feeder. The ones on the ground are no good at all. They get knocked over or filled with mud or both.
So a nice new big feeder is now in the Palace hanging from a very sturdy chain from the local hardware store (didn't want it falling down). Marley likes it but follows it round as it spins. Pickle uses it (after spending a day watching it carefully to make sure it wasn't going to eat her), but the others and Belle in particular still crowd around the Grub.
I had a plan. I'd take out the Grub for the breakfast beak stuffing session. The new feeder is big, provided ample beak stuffing space for lots of birds and with nothing else available they would surely head that way.
As usual, Wilma was first out of the Cube. She headed straight for her Grub. It wasn't there. She gave a cluck, a disgruntled one for sure and padded over to the glug. A quick drink revealed that there was no food in there. So she wandered in a little circle completely ignoring the new feeder, checking in after every other circle to see if her grub had reappeared and when it hadn't checking in at the glug (just to make sure).
You really can't teach old chickens new things. She's been munching from a grub for about five years now and doesn't intend changing.
I felt bad, put the grub back and got a happy bird again. Before long it was surrounded by happy clucking birds. The new feeder left for the most part untouched. I did catch Belle trying it out yesterday, but when I looked back she had returned to the over-crowded grub.
Oh well. At least the ex-bats will like it when they're ready to move into the palace.
Most interesting. I've discovered that I can blog by email. Will it actually be useful? - no idea, but today's post is a mobile one. Just because. I will have to add pictures later as they're all on an SD card at the moment.
Project Mingle has begun. It didn't start so well. Little Red decided that mingling wasn't going to happen and openly opposed all attempts, at one point having a mad wap that ended with her losing a claw. Last time that happened we needed a trip to the vet. Fortunately we know a little more now. A good clean, a styptic pencil (or soap if you don't have one) and some gentian violet do the trick. It helps that it didn't bleed too badly. We now have little purple foot prints on the patio. Which is nice.
Saturday morning (Project Mingle day two) brought progress. She got up on her own. She still runs about the run madly squeaking like a deranged toy that's had one too many batteries inserted, but at least we didn't have to get her out.
I think she wants to be a bantam. Whenever we let her out she heads over to them looking at the with curiosity. For their part they've pretty much ignored the ex-bats. They don't seem too fond of chickens that aren't also bantams so I seriously doubt Little Red would be too much better off if she was with them.
The other ex-bats now have names; Henny and Penny (Penny was once known as Mrs Cluckingham). It seems that Penny is the chook in charge (probably). She still has a very purple bottom which is very useful for distinguishing at a distance.
They are definitely happier birds. They've had a good mooch in the garden, pecking at grass and trying every leaf in sight. They've enjoyed dust baths and of course corn. What's really nice to see is that their combs are already much redder and feathers are beginning to grow back. Despite her pathetic overall look, Little Red has very fluffy feather britches, something we don't recall noticing when we got her.
And today has brought even more progress. We actually held her in place at the feeder with Henny and after a minute or so of crazy squeaking she realised that nothing had happened. She hadn't been pecked or even looked at on a funny way. She will now share a feeder with Henny and doesn't even mind being near her.
Penny is a different matter entirely. If she goes within two meters the squeaking begins, one to one and a half meters and Red is gone. It's nearly always Penny that's doing the pecking. So we still have work to do. All is fine when they are out to play, but the Eglu run isn't so big. In fact it's well below Red's vicinity alert which probably explains why she hardly comes out of the Eglu into the run.
But she was brave enough to eat corn with both of them. That stuff is a chicken keeper's miracle.
I'll leave it there as I have some spring bulbs to plant and so far today, Henny and Penny have done a lot more gardening than me. I think they've discovered worms.
There really is nothing like getting up in the morning; cleaning and refilling chicken drinkers, topping up feeders and letting several sets of hungry cluckers out for breakfast. It's not so much fun when the mornings are dark. It's even less fun when it's chucking it down with rain.
I really should have the sense to do it at night and that's something I've probably said before (I seem to have limited capacity to learn). At least it would be done when time isn't so tight and I wouldn't have to get dressed twice every morning. Wearing a suit to sort out the morning chicken jobs isn't the wisest idea.
Little Red had breakfast in the kitchen yesterday morning. I don't think she'd have been impressed by the rain and I certainly didn't fancy standing out in it whilst the little bird filled her beak. She wasn't at all sure about the bright light and shiny floor. Not sure she was too impressed by Chris Moyles either. That said I did get a cluck of objection when she had to be taken back outside.
There's been no real change. She doesn't look too bad (feathers aside), but unless we get her out, she won't leave the nest box. Work commences tomorrow on solving this problem.
We are calling this Project Mingle. Mrs C will have to be tough and turf the little bird out to free range with the other two. One idea is to keep Missy (the one who seems to want to do the pecking more) in the run for a bit (sorry girl) so that Little Red can get used to just one chicken. This way she won't be ganged up on.
We may have to be really tough at some point and lock her in the run with one of them and shut the Eglu door. She'll never get used to the others by sitting in the Eglu all day. I suspect I'll be the mean one that has to do that. Let's hope we don't have to.
The little bird pulled another stunt at bed time last night. It was dark. The bantam squad and the palace girls had been in bed for quite some time. Of course the ex-bats were taking their time. They haven't quite got used to going to roost yet. Eventually Mrs Cluckingham and Missy made their way in. This meant Little Red came out. She was stomping about at the run door, clearly trying to get out (probably towards the kitchen as this was the only light). Mrs C went out to check on her to make sure she had eaten. The run door opened and she was out like a shot. And she didn't want to go back. In order to stay out she spread her wings, gripped the bottom of the run with her feet and even tried to grip the mesh around the door parrot style with her beak! - the bird is trouble.
In non Red related news, but staying with the ex-bats, Mrs Cluckingham has a sore posterior. We're not sure why yet - it was a bit that when we we got her. It could be feathers starting to grow back, it could be the cold. Hopefully nothing much. So we'll be keeping our eye on one particular chicken bum. We've given her a good spray of gentian violet to help it out. She went to bed with a very purple bottom. There must have been some pecking/preening going on, when she got up in the morning she had a purple beak too.
I wonder what the day will bring...