Saturday, 31 October 2009

Autumn and more chickens departed

And back to three chickens again.

The adventures of summer are now over, after an amazing Indian summer some proper autumn weather returned with blustery skies and the occasional heavy rain shower. As also reported in the last update the winter run has gone up for the girls and Eggnog but also came crunch time as Eggnog and the Borg had to go due to our winter carrying capacity so we were delighted that they have a wonderful new home in Dorset with Tim and Annie, friends of our lovely mate Tracey. We took all three down to Annie and Tim's last weekend, with Eggnog in the back of the car having a chat to us all the way down.
Below - Tim, me and Annie
Bit of a shock for Eggnog when he got there are although all girls in the run there were definitely some right bruisers in there (i.e. full size chickens). The Borg were really funny as all of a sudden they were Eggnog's best friend. In fact a few incursions happened though that's inevitable and its going to be interesting to see how young Eggnog takes over the flock (as he should do). Messages from Annie say that all is going well, still the occasional scuffle but all settling in fine.

After the departure of Sebastian who was number 1 gardening chicken, the loss of Eggnog who was number 2 has made cleaning up in the garden a bit of a lonely old task. Its very quiet when tidying up the borders with nobody at your side removing all the earth you just replaced and trying to dig out any newly added plant. Saying that its been a great experience hatching all the chicks out and watching them grow into lovely birds and we really will be doing it again though I think we will just stick to one or two breeds instead of the mixture we had this year.

Harriet, not the cleanest of silkies at the best of times with her wanton desire for mud bathing however of late she has got a bit of a mucky bum. She's not managed to completely clean up herself so it was time to intervene. Harriet is no stranger to the sink and a bath so madam got dunked! Of course only Harriet could sit there having her bum washed while she stuffed out on mealworms...... And sat on the towel while she had the hair dryer treatment (hair dryer especially purchased for the purpose as the two of us hardly have any hair left to blow dry!) At least she had a clean bum now even is she did go straight out and have a flap in the mud.
So back to three birds for winter. Harriet, Ruby and Stella (name changes failed and she is still Stella). The old birds are still laying well and Stella should be coming on line soon. She, Stella, is still a nutcase and terrified of most things however she is slowly coming around but its going to be a long haul I think. She does have the deepest and most lovely cluck and her colour is wonderful, just waiting for the tail to fill out a little for a prize winning hen :)

And finally, had a really busy day at the allotment. Managed to clear out three beds and planted up one with onions, shallots and garlic - aching bones but enjoying a glass of wine on the sofa after having had a good soak.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Autumnal musings

The departure of Sebastian and Doris did leave a big hole in the flock personality wise however we did realise that Sebastian was the major scoffer of food (food bill has definitely gone down). Working in the garden this weekend I really did miss Daddies Little Helper getting in the way and being a complete pain in the arse, and nobody to leap on my knee and try to scoff my bacon sandwich.

The weather has been generally very good however a couple of very heavy downpours have turned to remains of the lawn into a mud slide. The borders have really stood up well to full scale chicken attack however with 8 of them being out their for most of the summer has taken its toll. Departure of the speckled Sussex have given a little relief but as the autumn gathers pace the garden is really showing the strain.

The light is also disappearing far to fast - dark when I leave for work and only light until just after 6pm so the birds out in the garden during the day really isn't an option now so at the weekend we erected the winter run on the garden deck.

Now the chooks have a wonderful big run to play in all day. Lots of new wood chips and treats, Skylon nestbox back which the girls love and lay eggs in every day we don't have to worry about the girls (and Eggnoggin the Nog) in the dark now. I just can't believe how quickly the nights are drawing in!

Harriet and Ruby are both in top form and currently both laying and we are getting 11 eggs per week at the moment. Ruby as ever talks to you all the time and Harriet, well Harriet is Harriet. On the occasions that they have been out, even if only for 20 minutes when we get home if there is enough light, Harriet is straight into the soil under the bananas and has a good old mud bath! For some reason she has a soiled bum so I think this coming weekend she will be getting a shower and blowdry (I promise to have some photos to post if we do it).

We do still need to get rid of the blue silkie hens and of course Eggnog. Since the departure of Sebastian he has become a proper little man and he is now getting the idea of being able to crow, not something conducive for hens in the city that's for sure. This evening I have put a blackout on the sleeping quarters so hopefully he won't start until we let him out into the run in the morning. Most importantly we need to find a home for Eggnog as he is a stunning bird.

Husband is not happy with Stella being called Stella - she doesn't seem like a Stella so I think that we need to come up with something else. Personally I'd call her "Ginger" because she is! Anyway poor girl is the shyest of all the birds as she is bottom of the pecking order, even the blue silkies give her grief and Eggnog chases her away from the treats. Oddly in the run its no so much of a problem as it is when they have full run of the garden.

Stella - what should we call you?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Somewhat late update and sad departure

How, how, how busy has life been!

Apologies (Mother) for not updating for a while but been away (work), very busy (work) very busy (chickens and repairing garden after chickens) and have also been lacking on allotment maintenance.

We also took the decision to sell some of the birds which I have to say was sad but realisation that a small garden cannot cope with eight chickens and the volume of chicken poo. Saying that the fertilisation the garden has received must have been a contributory factor to banana flowers so not all bad.

Sebastian of course had to go - suburbia cannot take a boy crowing in the morning and noises were already coming from the run in the morning. Not exactly crowing but a throttled croak - young man with his voice breaking, and his clucks were getting really deep. But so friendly and lovely..........anthropomorphism and me don't do deals but Sebastian would push the limits. Converted from chicken language here are some of Sebastian's favourite sayings:

  • "I know you just kicked me out of the kitchen but I'm sure that means I can come in again"
  • "I know you look as if you are really enjoying your tea and toast and reading the paper but it will be far more fun if I come and sit on your knee and try and steal the toast"
  • "I know you are walking down the garden for some reason but if I get completely under your feet I'm sure you'll pick me up, give me a hug and give me some corn instead of those boring pellets"
  • "Daddy, give me a treat, now!"

As Sebastian and Doris got on so well we decided to sell them together even though we wanted to keep Doris. We were really happy that a lovely lady called Ros bought them and hopefully we can do an update as we are really keen to see how they turned out as they were both very lovely looking birds. Have to say it was very sad to see them go but I'm sure they are going to have a lovely life.

Stella was up for sale however there was a big shock (though not that big for me) Eggnog really is a boy - I knew those wattles were too big for a girl - so Eggnog is up for sale :( and we are keeping Stella (who is still very shy but a stunning ginger/brown). Eggnog's colour is lovely and he is getting the lovely iridescent green in the black feathering. If you are interested in a very loving and lovely young black Orpington bantam for all of a tenner check out his ad and just scroll down the page until you see him

Also for sale are the Borg. They have become two lovely girls and more friendly and now join in all chicken crowd participation events apart from the kitchen raiding. It would be nice to sell them together however happy to split them if they are going with other chickens. Again scroll down the ad to find them

Harriet and Ruby go on as ever - both now laying and thankfully Ruby over her broody moment.

The garden is well and truly trashed however it is the end of the year garden wise so not long now until the winter run goes up and the plants and lawn get chance to recover and brace themselves for next year!