Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Spring has sprung (a leak)

Bank Holiday Monday, after a slightly cloudy start, was glorious. It started raining late last night and 10 hours later its still raining, however the bananas are loving it.

Had a major tidy in the garden, yesterday, it needed it. Interesting that plants are a little later in flowering this year and quite a few didn't make it through the winter however all is very verdant and the aphids are rampant along with the plant growth.

Ruby and Harriet are still happily broody so yesterday we gave them 6 hopefully fertile eggs to incubate and hatch (all being well)

Our future flock still in shell suits
A few facts relating to broody hens
  • As they come off the nest just once a day for a flap, feed, drink and clean up they do produce the biggest and smelliest chicken poo ever!
  • They have got some new calls and sit next to each other gently clucking away (hopefully in contentment at sitting on eggs)
  • They are not nest fixed - whoever gets into the shed first always seems to go to the nestbox closest to the door

It's also being very odd being in the garden and no chickens helping you remove the border to the lawn, rushing around in the hope of mealworms and dust bathing right in front of the lawn mower. Still, twenty days to go

Happy hens on the eggs

Monday, 25 May 2009

Spring has sprung

Life has now settled down - it's quiet, in fact its very quiet. Ruby is getting more confident and will happily take food from your fingers but touching her? Oh not a chance. Harriet remains a big white fluff ball of poultry happiness.

Both were producing an egg a day, garden devastation down to a minimum and truth is it was all getting a little to easy - and then they both decided to go broody. Ruby first but in truth the sniff of a hint of broodiness and it triggered Harriet as well. Most improper that both insisted sitting in the same box even though they had no eggs!

Hmm......an opportunity we thought. We are looking to replace the chooks that have gone but not sure what we wanted. Several breeds came to mind, more silkies in perhaps different colours, bantam Orpingtons and of course another attempt at bantam Sussex. No chance of buying all of these however as we now had two broodies it seemed a good idea to get some eggs for incubation.

As we were visiting Mum up in Cheshire a quick internet search found Sue Feild in Chester offering a selection of the breeds we had already talked about. May 23rd saw us (Mother included)off to visit Sue and collect the eggs and into the bargain got a tour of not only all Sue's wonderful chickens and marvellous garden but some great ducks as well! We left very happy with 12 eggs but some trepidity in that there is no way we can keep 12 more chickens if they all hatch however boys will needless to say have to find a new home (noise factor alone I imagine though Sue did say that the cock silkies were quite quiet)

So what did we get egg wise? 2 x BOBS (buff Orpington bantam), 2 x black Orpington bantam, 2 x speckled Sussex bantam, 2 x light Sussex bantam, 2 x white silkie and 2 x blue silkie.

A gorgeous black Orpington bantam hen

Both lots of Orpington bantams were stunning, the blacks especially so. The speckled Sussex were bigger than Ruby however Sue's light Sussex bantams were smaller than Margot was. As for the silkies we did see red silkies, never seen them before but very impressed, unfortunately Sue had no eggs available. Also saw for the first time miniature (bantam) white silkies. Tiny and absolutely lovely!

So eggs in today, 25th May and we await with anticipation the 14th June - hatch date!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Silence IS Golden (as is Ruby!)

What a difference 4 days makes!

Still very much noticing the absence of Cybil (missing her tons!) and Margot, but oh how quiet it is with just Ruby and Harriet!!! It's lovely I tell thee, lovely! There have been a couple of "squawks" from Ruby but nothing at all to the level of decibels that Cybil was reaching.

The Girls (all 2 of them) and I have been home alone these past few days while our BA World Traveller jetted off to Athens (God help the Greek men!) for a conference....so we've had treats and quality time and peace and quiet (but we missed him tons, of course!!!!!)

Obviously, half the flock and you get half the eggs. I would have thought that the disappearance of Cybil and Margot would have meant that Ruby and Harriet would have slowed down a bit, but no I was wrong....still 2 eggs a day, bless their little bums!

And what news of Chez Tit I hear you scream??? Well, we have titlets!!!!! Yes, we have baby tits....we haven't seen them yet but Mum and Dad are racing around like little feathery mad things (a bit like the Girls really!!) picking caterpillars and the like....the titlets are well fed if nothing else!!!!

I shall leave you with a gratuitous picture of a Tit!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Sound of Silence

I came home tonight feeling nervous, a small knot in my stomach, knowing that when I got home and opened the chicken house door to let the Girls out, there would be only two little faces looking up at me. Yes, today after much deliberation, soul searching and quite a lot of screeching, Cybil and Margot went to their new home in Bedfordshire. 

I'm sad they've gone and I'm happy they've gone. 

They are living out their (hopefully) long little lives in a wood in the countryside with other hens and a cockerel....oh what fun they will have.

The oddest thing is the silence. I've longed for peace and quiet for so long and now that it's here it's very strange. Cybil was definitely the character of our small flock, with her constant chirruping, squawking, screeching and always under your feet to see what you were doing and had you found something that she could eat. Margot is her trusty sidekick, her Lacey to Cybil's Cagney and she will also be missed but Cybil is noticeably absent.

Harriet and Ruby seem no different from yesterday when there were four of them, although I think we witnessed Ruby asserting her 'Queen Bee' status on Harriet earlier, which is funny when you consider that yesterday she was at the bottom of the ladder! What a difference 24 hours makes to the life of a little hen.

Anyway, we'll give it a little while and then introduce a couple of new quiet hens to the flock....probably another Silkie (Harriet is sooooo quiet and also needs another Silkie to communicate with) and we might get a bantam Orpington, we'll see how the future pans out.

Another chapter in the ever changing lives of Hens In The City....it's never dull here at Hen HQ!!!!

P.S. My partner did not want them to go...but then he's deaf so what would he know?!?!?!