Sunday, 19 December 2010

End of the year ....again

Wow - I can hardly believe that almost another year over and I'm still a bloody awful and inconsistent blogger!

So what a year really. Little did I realise that shortly after my last blog my darling Mum would become ill and our time now together is both short and precious. It has also precluded somewhat "normal" life and the latter half of the year seems to have been spent travelling up and down motorways and dealing with the NHS. Now being cared for at home I just hope Mum's remaining time is spent in warmth and comfort with no pain and surrounded with the love of the family.

The downside of all this time away has been minimal input into the allotment, poor old chickens get a clean out, fed and watered with the occasional egg collected and that's been about it and I have had the dogs with me in Cheshire. 2011 is definitely going to be catch-up time that's for sure.

This time last year the allotment had been cleared and I had already got broad beans, red and white onions, shallots and garlic planted. To my own shame I still have potatoes in the ground which will of course now be ruined and a bed of brassicas including calvo nero that I am sure are in need of a good harvest. I would say that with the early arrival of winter it really has stopped anything happening now as if there is a spare weekend day the ground is so frozen you can't do anything anyway!

The chickens have been somewhat eclipsed as well by the arrival this year of Max and Millie in that the dogs do take up time that I had previously spent with the chooks. Not that it means that the girls are being ignored, just time and organisation and its still a pleasure to watch them scratching around in the garden. Since the last blog the only real changes have been poor Ruby plagued with scaly leg on two occasions. I had used proprietary creams to clear it up but for some reason they made Ruby's lags very raw and sore and she was in some discomfort. I then resorted to Ivomectin which very quickly cleared up the problem. She does seem to be prone to it after she finishes a broody session and is starting to moult. It also takes her such a long time to get over her moult, bless her. Egg production was great until end of October when Harriet decided to go broody and everybody else decided to stop laying so even now, some 8 weeks on only Tallulah is laying the occasional egg. With all the cold weather the girls are getting far too many treats and I can't help myself buying the occasional corn on the cobs for them if there is a special offer on!

So what else of 2010? With no chicks being reared this year it was a little quiet in truth. Depending on time constraints it would be really good to hatch a few off in 2011. There is a good chance that we will be getting a Silkie cock sometime in the spring so hopefully chicks from Harriet and Tallulah. Then see if we can get some fertile eggs for Ruby and Nigella - lets see what happens. After our adventures last year I really do think that even bantam Orpingtons are to large for the garden so will probably stick with more bantam Sussex. Shame really as I love the chocolate Orpingtons however this year I saw for the first time Coronation Sussex and they really are very high on my "I want" list, lovely, lovely birds.

So that's it really - a cold and snowy end to 2010 and although still a fortnight away my resolution for 2011 is more frequent updates so for now have a very happy Christmas.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Late summer (b)ramblings

As ever summer rushes forth, actually if you can call it summer. Great June then the rest has been somewhat nondescript. 

Home life has been as busy as ever. Click on the link "The Marvellous Adventures of...." to see news of our new arrival, Millie - so now a two dog, four chicken and fourteen goldfish household. Millie is still very nervous but growing in confidence every day, not exactly helped by coming into season almost as soon as we got her. Also I don't think that she is going to be as easy as Max to mix with the chickens.

The lovely Millie

The past couple of months have been filled with broody chickens and very poor egg production. Last year we hatched chicks but this year we decided along with the dogs and lack of time not to do any. Of course that didn't stop them going broody! 

Harriet of course went first and almost lasted the longest, despite all efforts to discourage her she was having none of it and went 35 days. Ruby was next, both girls deciding they were going to use the same nest box to sit in. When they both decided to give up (after some pressure being locked out of the shed) at the same time and moulted, Ruby is looking positively oven ready and the garden looks like it just held a pillow-fighting competition. 

An almost oven-ready Ruby

Once those two were out Tallulah decided upon  broodiedom! This time we did encourage her to sit as we had a special task for her. One of the peafowl at the zoo decided to lay an egg but showed no interest in incubating it. As it was a somewhat rare species of peafowl it would be far better for the chick to be reared by another bird as opposed to being hand reared. Excitedly we get Tallulah happily sitting on the egg however her foster motherhood wasn't to be as the egg was infertile - better luck next time. 

Tallulah out of incubation mode and looking good

And of course at the end of it all Nigella wasn't to be outdone and decided that she was going broody as well. Nigella stopping laying to sit on her arse all day was the last straw so as Tallulah was no longer needed for the peafowl egg all access to the nest boxes was cut so there was no option but to take in the fresh air and no where to sit in a comfortable nest! At last all four chickens out in the garden - now just waiting for everybody to get over moulting! 

Over the course of 8 weeks we managed to produce 5 eggs a week at best, hardly the realms of self sufficiency however enough for the occasional bit of baking and fried egg butties at the weekend. 
I have to say that with the summer at least feeding costs are at an absolute minimum. If not sitting on eggs the girls have full access to the garden now that all the plants are established so they spend the entire day happily scratching away. On top of that sweetcorn on special at the shops in a super treat they all enjoy especially with the "sweetcorn swinger", hours of fun for chickens and us watching.

Of course late summer and the hedgerows are full of blackberries, even more obvious now as we are walking the dogs on a regular basis. Inspired by my latest read "The Allotment Chef" by Paul Merrett we have been taking plastic tubs with us on walks to collect the bounty - this evening we will be enjoying blackberry and apple crumble and taking on the challenge of bramble jelly if we get enough berries. Mentioning allotment, we had a fairly good year.....but that's another blog entry. 

Monday, 28 June 2010

Photos from Ros

Yippee - Doris has chicks

We are so happy that Sebastian and Doris' owner keeps in touch. Sebastian has now become Boris but he has filled to be a wonderful looking bird.

Boris and Doris having a dust bath

Doris being a mum

...and while Doris is working hard raising the kids, Sebastian/Boris is making out with Mrs O'Bramha

Thanks for the pictures, we a deeply envious so keep the photos coming

Monday, 14 June 2010

Busy weekend

Firstly, still awaiting photos from Ros of Doris as a Mum so be patient, I can't wait to see them.

Odd really that little things make a weekend. We have been living in South East London for the past seven years and here is SE23 for 6 years. In the garden we have seen everything from great spotted woodpeckers to ring-necked parakeets, herons and nesting wrens, but oddly never ever seen a house sparrow! Remember those chirpy little birds that were everywhere once upon a time and now subject to preservation orders and included in BAP's (Biodiversity Action Plans)? Well Sunday we saw a pair of house sparrows! Deeply pleasing to see such a once common species in the UK returning to what I imagine were old haunts.
I never feel that we catch the growing season in time. One minute its too early and cold to plant anything then blink and everybody is harvesting tomatoes and potatoes and we have only just got our plants into the ground. Saying that we just had our first harvest of broad beans, and have had grazed salad from lettuce and rocket plus lots of delicious crisp radish. Instead of a more formal approach to growing I read the Alys Fowler book "The Edible Garden" and I have been further inspired. No rows, just a mish mash of complimentary veggies and plants and apart from bloody flea beetles all is going well.

And to the girls. The harsh love worked and after 6 days the chickens have full access to nestboxes and good to report that Ruby and Nigella are back to normal. Tallulah is going through a big old moult so only Harriet aka Princess Ping Pong is laying. Ruby has highly indigent this evening as she had to be caught up as she seemed to have a small problem with the right leg however inspection confirmed scaly leg so medication to follow.

Max and Harriet on the lawn
The girls have a big pen along with access to the deck but not to the entire garden as all the plants need to be fully established but we have just returfed the lawn after winter decimation. However on Sunday I needed to clean the deck so the chickens got to the lawn AND to meet Max on a nose to beak level. It all went really well apart from Tallulah who managed to nip into a flower bed and trash two lilies, lemon balm and a small unidentified plant that will never now flourish but at least it made a small scruffy chicken very happy.

Just waiting for eggs to start again..............

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Update at last - check back for photos

Oh hell's teeth, the past couple of months seem to have flown by and after a week in Italy I am more than aware that I have been sadly lacking the the blog department!

Mother and a lovely chicken

The fastest of updates - thank you for all the offers of a home for Stella. Such is life that she went back to whence she came as an egg, to the lovely Sue and her Mum at Victoria's Poultry in Chester It was such a pleasure to meet up again, Sue has such an incredible enthusiasm for her birds and Mum is a really keen waterfowl breeder along with knowing all the chickens as well. We were again greeted into their home, had a lovely time and Stella very soon settled back into life into rural Cheshire after her Hens in the City existence. I am very wary of ever giving recommendations however I only have the highest regard for the work, quality of service and birds from Victoria's Poultry.

With the departure of Stella life soon settled down to something bordering normality with Harriet taking over the mantle of head bird, not that Ruby bothered as she just runs the flock. Nigella is no doubt at the bottom of the pecking order but it all changes in that Harriet beats up on Tallulah,Tallulah beats up on Nigella and Ruby just gets on with them all until somebody (Harriet mostly) steps out of accepted hen behaviour then they get a smack in the head. And despite this Harriet still think she rules the roost!

Stella returns to the flock

So Italy was wonderful however on our return we found Nigella AND Ruby had become broody over the week we were away. Not good news. Harsh treatment as they were both turfed out of the nestboxes and after three days of no access I think they are getting the idea however I know the second they see a nice cosy straw filled nestbox they will revert to super broodies!

Finally this very evening we just got news from Ros about Doris but more of that over the weekend as photos have been promised.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Trials and Traumas and a Chicken for Sale

Fantastic weather - I love it and so do the girls. Five chickens, four eggs a day (even Nigella is laying albeit very small and somewhat wobbly shaped!) so lots of egg mayo sandwiches for lunch, omelettes and frittatas and no, my cholesterol won't get worse as recent papers have shown that eggs are actually very good for you (not that we didn't know that already).

It's been a bit of a sticky week for the new girls. When introducing any new birds into a new flock there is always going to be some ructions as they fit into the group structure. Firstly we increased the size of the lawn run (still no access to all of the garden until later in the year when the plants are established. Tallulah and Ruby got into the rest of the garden during the week and delighted in eating the newly emerges delphinium and hosta shoots and scratched out lots of new plants that had recently been put in). Tallulah and Nigella got exclusive use of the lawn run during the day just so they could build some confidence.

At least four girls in the run are getting along well!
Ruby has been hugely graceful and has accepted the two of them very well so she joined them during the day. Harriet was in complete princess mode and decided that they needed to be kept in there place so had to spend a few more days in the day run before getting to spend the day out on the lawn and all four a getting on really well. Stella.............well Stella!

Wanted - new home for Stella - are you interested?
As the lowest ranking chicken in the original group even though she is the biggest, Stella was determined to raise her ranking to ensure she didn't stay at the bottom of the pecking order and she has been doing it by brute force. A week after the new girls arrived and Stella still only gets mixed with them in the evening when she has a couple of hours out on the lawn with them and of course overnight but all seems to be okay then as everybody is roosting. I think that after this coming week they will all be together but we have decided to put Stella up for sale. Even though she is a bantam she is VERY solid, I picked her up the other day and now understand where all the food is going! She is also the most destructive bird in the garden. I hope we do find a new home for her as she is a stunning looking bird and laying really well at the moment (and her eggs are probably the best, for some reason Orpingtons always do produce huge yolks).

This week I watched "The Edible Garden" on BBC2 for the first time.
It's great -
The presenter Alys Fowler has also written a book to go with the series - I just ordered it to see if its as good as the television programmes.

Allotment is very busy at the moment, we have lots of trays filled with seedlings and working hard to get the beds ready for planting out. We also still have the mini polytunnel which we need to get erected soon as cucumber, tomato and melon seeds have already germinated and growing well!

I love Crocus (plant nursery and online store but not open to the public)they do great plants and put together some really good planting plans. I'm always inspired when the seasonal catalogue arrives so when we saw Crocus were having an open day we leapt at the chance and it was well worth the journey. Got some fantastic alliums, Cardiocrinum giganteum and a stunning dark red Dicentra however I really do need to stop mucking about with the pretty things and get on with the allotment and grow some veg to go with all the eggs.

Monday, 19 April 2010

April musings, two new chickens and the dog!

Wonderful weather over the weekend, the added bonus being clear blue sunny skies devoid of aircraft due to the volcano in Iceland!

A couple of months ago I did mention that we now had a dog, Max, who is now a well established chicken hound. Despite his puppy inclinations at excitement he is and the girls get on great probably with the exception of Stella who, despite being a grown up girl now still flaps at the smallest thing. Not that we are worried, having recently having picked up Stella she is very, very solid and could probably withstand a small nuclear attack and a small puppy isn't going to do any harm whatsoever. To ensure that hens in the city doesn't become Uptown Puppy you can follow Max's adventures at - link also in the side panel.

My approach to stopping the girls being broody worked! Less that two weeks later and we are already have Ruby and Stella laying - hooray. I cannot tell you how wonderful the taste of our home produced eggs are so its great that the supply has returned.

We have been been doing some reworking in the garden, moving some old border edging and replacing it with wicker hurdles. Needless to say the girls were there to help! They have over the winter months been confined to the end of the garden and as you can see from above, there isn't a lot of lawn remaining (so some returfing in a month or so me thinks) however once the plants are established again they will again have access to the entire garden.

And thank god that the girls don't eat daffodils however my new delphinium regrowth didn't last long!

Now don't ask me why but for some reason we had an idea that we should get another silkie to keep Harriet company. So it was with glee that we saw were holding a chicken auction in Essex. Off we went and were amazed at the number of chickens available for sale and how many people turned up. It was great fun in the auction itself and we became the proud owners of two new chickens.

Firstly we did indeed acquire a silkie. Duly named Tallulah she is I think partridge coloured (most appropriate considering our recent visitor) and was supposedly hatched in 2008.

On exit from her box (one of the problems with the auction was it was not easy to see into some of the boxes to completely check out your prospective purchase) she was a bit rough looking to say the least and a bald bum. Saying that she appears to be full of character and Tallulah is a bold one that's for sure.

The second purchase was a second choice. First choice was a lovely gold-laced wyandotte hen however we were firmly outbid on her. Secondly we were taken with silver Sussex hens (again) and there were a few for sale. As it happened the lotts in the catalogue didn't match the actual birds being auctioned so it was a little confusing and we ended up not buying the bird that we had originally looked! Still we have a 2009 bred silver hen named Nigella.

Bless her, she couldn't be more distant from our last silver Sussex hen Cybil. Nigella is very shy, very nervous and would you believe a pigeon-toed chicken! I do think she is going to take a while to settle in and she is most definitely at the bottom of the pecking order.

So would I get chickens from an auction again? I have to say that I probably would but would be happier if the birds were in cages that you could see the birds more fully................the biggest job ahead of us now is integrating two new girls into our resident flock of three!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Spring, Swallows and an occasional Partridge

A few sunny days and managing to see a swallow indeed make it feel that spring is eventually here.

For us it meant time in the garden and for the ladies it meant that the mean man would be turfing them off their nests and broodiness, locked out of the nestbox and no chance to try and hatch imaginary eggs. The reality is that now back from the joys of Cornwall those girls needed to start earning their corn again and lay some eggs!

Reality was that with the sunshine and bribe of a few mealworms and no access to nestboxes Ruby and Stella were soon out of broody mode. Stubborn as ever Harriet took a further day to realise the fruitlessness of the cause so she is also back in the flock so just on countdown for some eggs now.

We did have a most amusing interlude with the brief arrival and departure of a red-legged partridge. The partridge was caught in north London, semi-tame or stunned not sure but it (for we knew not whether it was male or female) however we took him in on a temporary basis.

Partridge did not appreciate being in the run however had a very good feed and then spent the evening with the girls in the garden plodding around. Finally partridge walked down the garden, flitted up onto the fence and went into next doors garden. Although we've not seen the bird again we have heard calling so partridge is still in the area.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Belated happy Easter

Writing once a month really isn't good!

That was a long old winter in the proper sense of a winter. Spring has eventually arrived and its lovely to see some flowers in bloom, wild birds in the garden and some sunshine at last.

Of course to celebrate the arrival of longer days, ALL the girls are now broody! And they were doing so well at laying....

Harriet, Stella and Ruby all share a nest box

Done some work in the garden (major tree fern move about), broad beans, onions, shallots and garlic all doing well at the allotment but needs quite a bit of work over the next few weekends.

Hopefully the girls will get back into laying mode very soon and then back to laying some eggs. We need eggs.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The late late post!

Wow - I'm really slacking on adding some new post here. A scolding from my niece reminded me that I should get an update sorted so here it is.

A few things to say (sloppy excuses actually) on why posts haven't been forthcoming

1. We were away for two weeks on Langkawi Island in Malaysia, our official "honeymoon". Fantastic time, temps well into the 80's each day, blue skies, warm seas, you get the idea, and a wonderful antidote to the cold grey chill of the London winter. Again our deep thanks to Studley Ruffle and the lovely JP for chicken sitting duties.

2. I've been off work for a week or so with the joys of another arthritic flare up so with walking sticks and taking a plethora of pills I've hardly had the inspiration or will to write anything however well on the way to recovery now I'm glad to report.

3. Not a lot going on with our girls however now some great news from down the road in Sussex.

Home first - Stella the bantam buff Orpington really has filled out into a lovely looking chicken. She is still bonkers but will happily take mealworms from your fingers if not indeed accidentally removing your fingers as well during enthusiastic mealworm taking. As a bantam she is still a big girl, (big bones I think the correct saying is) however still bottom of the pecking order.

After a couple of weeks at 16 eggs a week Harriet decided to bugger it up and go broody. I know, silkies go broody faster than you can look at them but come on Harriet, some pay back please!

Sussex way and Ros, now proud owner of Sebastian (now shortened to Boris which we love) and Doris. Ros has really got spring underway with chicks already this year and two chicks from Boris and Doris as well as a good sprinkling of others. We really appreciate all the photos Ros has sent and hopefully we will get to visit sometime in spring.

Friday, 19 February 2010


Today was a big first - three hens, three eggs :) full production targets have now been reached!

Also tomorrow we take possession of Maximilian Sidney Bruiser McEllis, our chicken hound puppy. Photos and update tomorrow.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Not chickens this time but Nepal

This is something of a departure from the chickens however I was working out in Nepal during November 2009 and really wanted to do a quick note on what I was doing out there. I have eventually managed to get around to sorting a few photos so I hope it's of interest.

Nepal is a small country, money poor for the most part but rich in its lovely people, incredible landscape and generous nature.

My work there was two fold:

(1) working to assist the captive management programme saving vultures from extinction and (2) advisory work at the Central Zoo in Kathmandu

The vultures are one of the biggest man made tragedies in modern times however as they are not tigers or elephants they don't get the press or public support they need. Natures binmen they scavenged throughout Asia but due to widespread use of a simple veterinary drug Diclofenac 99% of the world population of three species of vulture have died out.

See for more information.

Young oriental white-backed vultures at the Rescue
As a last ditch attempt to save the vultures from imminent extinction birds have been collected from the wild and being kept in aviaries in order to hold them and breed them so at some stage in the future when all chances of the drug being removed from the environment are realised, birds can be released back into their natural habitat.

Captive breeding centres already exist in India and Pakistan and recently Nepal began its own programme.

My job, along with ZSL Head Vet Andrew Routh was to run a workshop on the captive management and veterinary care of vultures as well as looking at the work being done in Nepal.

It was a hugely inspirational time and the people we worked with ranged from the vulture keepers to field workers to vets to park rangers - all deeply committed to saving vultures and having a real understanding of the plight of the birds.

Adult oriental white-backed vulture in the wild

I was deeply impressed with the work being done and I have to say it was a great pleasure to visit a vulture restaurant "Jataya" where the vultures are fed carcasses safe from drug contamination. The most encouraging signs were that the area where the vulture feeding place is situated is now "drug free" and that vultures are actually nesting around the area where the safe food is placed. The most incredible thing is that vultures are seen as messengers of bad tidings but the entire local community has really taken to getting behind and supporting the recovery of the vultures. The vultures still totter on the edge of extinction, lost forever but if what I saw in Nepal was anything to go by I feel hugely encouraged.

Me on elephant back

The vulture work was carried out at the Chitwan National Park where I also had the pleasure of going out early in the morning on elephant back to try and see Asian one-horned rhino. Once you get a hang of the rolling gait of the elephant you realise what an amazing platform they make for wildlife watching. I am truly happy to say that we did manage to see some of these incredible rhinos.

Asian one-horned rhino in the wild - mum and baby
Secondly was work at the Central Zoo in Kathmandu. It has over a million visitors a year but charges a tiny amount and urgently needs funds. The money is needed for raising the standard of life for the animals held in the zoo, to support the hard working and dedicated staff and ensure through education and interpretation (in all its forms) the Nepali people come to appreciate the incredible creatures that live in their wonderful country.

Discussing work on the rhino enclosure at the zoo - and a chance to get up close
There is no doubt that there are welfare concerns for some of the animals (anybody with a spare £5000 would hugely improve the lives of clouded leopards, leopards, jackals and a black bear so just drop me an email :) however for the most part the staff work hard with what they have. The Zoo has many old features and has many issues to overcome but with the dedicated Zoo Director and most enthusiastic Zoo Vet I only had admiration for the perseverance they have in making the zoo work.

Again another couple of days of workshops and it was great to have an exchange of ideas and how the lives of the animals could be improved. It's important to also remember that all we did was bring forth the ideas from the staff - the ideas were there, they just needed some coaxing. And seriously - if anybody has any funding thoughts PLEASE let me know, the zoo is the most amazing opportunity to get the next generation to understand more about animals, plants, biodiversity and making sure Nepali wildlife and habitats have some chance of survival in the future.
Discussing bird husbandry with the hornbill listening as well
Most people think that Nepal is cold, snowy and tottering on the edge of the Himalaya and Everest. Think again, down in Chitwan where the vulture centre is, it's positively tropical with elephants wandering down the streets, rhinos and tiger in the Chitwan National Park and gharials (tropical fish eating crocodiles for the want of a better description). Even in Kathmandu, where the name conjure images of a snowy mountain-top hidden city, its very warm even in November and snow is as rare as hens teeth!

The second part of my time there was with husband who flew out and we then had an amazing ten days holiday/adventure and that's going to be part II if I ever get around to writing it - maybe a job for hubbie??

Friday, 29 January 2010

Never put all your eggs in one basket (or in your pocket!)

The snow has gone (so I do need to find a new photo for the header pic) though as a well known Cheshire saying goes "it's as cold as a witches tit". However its getting lighter and lighter each morning, very slow in our eyes but interesting that both Harriet and Stella are now laying on a regular basis so the birds are noticing it.

Out in the dark at 05.45 checking and feeding the chickens, Stella had laid below the perch (in truth probably from it) so I popped the egg into my pocket and carried on feeding and giving them clean water. I bent over to pick up some rubbish off the floor of the run and heard a gentle pop followed by a warm sensation on my leg. "Dammit".......... note to self, do NOT bend over with thin shelled egg in pocket as they break!

Joy, as the egg just didn't break in my pocket, bloody messy anyway however in the pocket was;
my iPod
my mobile

All I can do is apologies to those neighbours that heard a stream of expletives far too early in the morning, you may have thought it was a nightmare but it was me!

Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend so join in if you can.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Homes Wanted and Big News

Firstly if you read the last blog a full 24 hours ago you will know that Annie, the owner of Eggnog and the Borg (Shirl and Pearl the silkies) had a sneaking suspicion that Shirl could actually be a Stan. Well all her nightmares came true yesterday as when Eggnog was crowing as he should, well BOTH Shirl and Pearl joined in! Needless to say Bob and Barry as they are now known will need rehoming - they are great chickens - if you are interested in owning a lovely blue silkie cockerel (or two) do get in touch and I will put you in contact with Annie.

Now the Big News. As predicted yesterday, Miss Harriet produced an egg this morning!

As ever it wasn't a simple process but one that took Harriet an hour to decide where to lay. In one of the carrying boxes in the shed or in skylon which had new wood shaving and straw in? Back and forth and back and forth with much clucking to ensure the entire world was aware that she wanted to lay an egg. I was eventually ejected from the run while cleaning it out so Harriet could lay..........and 30 minutes later - result!

Of course, having gone through the entire stress of laying an egg a lady, and a chicken lady at that must instantly rush to bathe, theoretically dust bathe but in this weather?

"wot are you looking at?"
As ever, Harriet delights in finding mud and having a good old shake around, heaven's only knows how she ever managed to get white again but she does and after producing an egg she deserved it - well done Harriet.
"Daddy, I'm not really THAT dirty am I?"

Saturday, 16 January 2010


It's amazing that January is already half way done - most of the time has been spent whipping the huskies into a frenzy to get the sled going to transport me to and fro between work and home. Well watching the news you would think that's how it was. Sure its been snowy but isn't that what winter is about? A few inches of snow and transportation seems to collapse - the trains are bloody useless!

Anyway, I think the girls are glad to see the end of the all the snowy weather. Of course with snow on the ground even when they were given access to have a run about in the garden they were not having any of it and stayed resolutely in the run. Now the lawn is clear they are more than happy to run about on very soggy grass eating all the wild bird seed that has been thrown from the bird table and then revealed by the receding snow.

And no news - nothing really has changed. Ruby is eventually looking slightly better, lots of pin feathers now so not long until she is back to glorious normality. Saying that, in the condition she is now there is no chance of eggs from her for a while. Harriet on the other hand is fairly close to laying and I would be surprised if we didn't get an egg in the next week. She crouches as soon as she gets a hand any where near her, she is looking wonderful and lastly I would say she is eating really well but as her other name is "Pigsy" its hardly surprising, that silkie will eat anything! And Stella - still looking gorgeous and still being an orpington to the core and not laying a ruddy thing. Have to say she really is calming down a lot.

Its really interesting to note that last year we gave the girls lighting every morning so they could start feeding at 6.30am. As this entailed a right rigmarole of swapping lights, recharging batteries, etc this year we didn't bother. The girls seem fine however last year we have eggs virtually all winter and this year obviously not, the last egg being laid in mid November. Might revert to lighting up mornings again next winter to see if it really does keep egg production going.

To finish - a quick update on the chicks that left us in the autumn, and proper chickens they are now and we are so happy to still be in contact with the wonderful folk who now have them.

Sebastian and Doris looking splendid

Firstly Sebastian and Doris the speckled sussex bantams. Ros has sent us some great photos of them, both are looking marvellous especially Sebastian who seems to have grown into a very handsome chap - and looking at the pictures they look as if they are living in rural paradise!

Secondly Eggnog and the Borg (Shirl and Pearl) who went to Annie and Tim, again from south London suburbs to the beautifully green countryside of rustic Dorset. Now the kids were going in with an already established group of chickens and initially they did have a bit of a slight kicking however the Borg are happily settled in and Eggnog really does rule the roost and keeps his girls very happy according to Annie. Slight problem in that Shirl might be Stan so we will await further information.

Eggnog with Shirl and Pearl in the background

Okay, that's it - hopefully next update will include the joyous news of an egg!