Sunday, 12 July 2009

Its's a late post!

What a difference two weeks makes!

It's been busy over the last couple of weeks so I failed to update the blog however fortunately John has been keeping up with the photos.

In the period of two weeks we have gone from heatwave with warning of the entire UK population about to meet its demise over 2 days of hot weather. As pleasant as it was (most enjoyable to feel some sunshine at last) the past week has been dominated by westerlies blowing in with some quite spectacular rain. I note the Government have not yet started giving alert level foot rot warning.

The chicks and girls have been doing very well. Unfortunately the chicks are very quick at picking up tricks and tips from the Mum's and as soon as they see us they rush to the run door and start cheeping wildly. I can virtually hear them saying "Daddy let us out, we want to go trash a flower bed!".

After initially going through the overly protective stage and either having them all in the lawn run or being outside with them to keep the chicks from possible predation by crows or cats, and keeping them on the lawn and off the borders we have now given up on all.
My attempts at keeping the borders in some form of orderliness have failed. Fortunately most of the plants are now well established enough to have the poultry version of an auto weeder scratching around without detrimental effect and with of course some natural fertilisation and snail removal. Of course dust/mud bathing is far better enjoyed in the middle of a flower bed!
Likewise, Ruby is such a great mother that I have no problems leaving them out while we are at home as;
1. she is very quick to sound the alarm even if it is a plane flying over
2. she is highly feisty and will attack anybody or anything (which unfortunately included Harriet on occasion) if she thinks the chicks are in any danger what-so-ever.
3. while I am typing this both Ruby and Harriet are trying to teach the chicks how to get into the kitchen!
So how are the chicks doing?

Eggnog Tallulah is still the smallest but one of the most independent and has a great love for getting up to the highest point she can with the mums. This morning she managed to get to the top of the bench with Ruby and looked very adventurous before she realised that she couldn't get down so just threw herself off! Still thinks of Harriet as his main mum.

Stan (still convinced that its a boy and the buff Orpington bantam) continues to be the lone explorer. Definitely is in the Ruby camp of children. His feathers are coming on well and looks okay because they are all pale.

Laverne and Shirley (the blue silkie chicks) failed as a naming option however it has evolved into Pearl and Shirley. Definitely Harriet's children (I am convinced silkies have a regional hen dialect) they rarely stray far from her. Getting lots of little feathers now but still staying small - there is a low chance that Shirl may be a boy.

The turkeys, Jason and Sebastian - which are supposed to be speckled Sussex bantams - are very large and I wonder at times if they are indeed not bantams but regular sized chickens. I am sure that both are boys, feet the size of small ostrich and looking real youths with scruffy feathers sprouting everywhere and a need for running madly everywhere in the "I want to be there first" mode.

It is amazing the change and growth rate so I will try to keep up! (and we will be needing homes for the boys at some stage)

Ruby and Harriet are now enjoying the freedom of flower border exploration again and Harriet has regained not only her skill of dust bathing in the wettest soil she can find but has got back the permanent soil staining on the front of her head. Both of them are looking particularly scruffy as are in mid moult - Ruby only has half a tail and Harriet has shed so many feathers in the run it looks like the aftermath of a pillow fight! After their "spat" they are now getting on fine again however Ruby has very successfully now made herself top hen.

Garden looking lovely with the warm, wet (indeed moist) conditions being perfect for rapid growth (bananas, cannas and gingers are going great guns) and the tree ferns have fully recovered from the winter trauma.
Allotment is now beginning to provide lots of produce - courgettes, french beans, globe artichokes, turnips and radish while the pots at home produced a small crop of peas and we are about to start harvesting pot grown carrots.

So busy times in the garden, the allotment and with the chickens, but highly enjoyable. Promise a faster update next week.