Recently I had a cylindrical fish tank that leaked, so we were throwing it out and I was wondering what I could do with it.
I had the idea of sawing the bottom end off, then building some kind of frame around it, laying some turf on it and making a hobbit-tunnel for the hens to play on!
It slowly came together on a hot and sweaty evening (last night) - so the turf is kind of raggedy (in fact it was half-dead at the garden center - we complained and got it for 50p a roll from £4 - it will only get battered by the hens anyway).
But the hens love it! They initially tentatively busied themself eating the grass around the edges (little gits!) - then Renee sauntered through the tunnel - she's the bravest chicken I know and appeared on the other side all "yeah, what of it? I do this all the time"...
Here we have the three idiots who are still trying to hatch non-existant chicks...
Well we thought we had enough nest boxes for the girls - we had two broody hens (Maude and Mabel) but as they are only lickle banties it still left lots of room for the others to lay.
That was, until Velma our huge Brahma went broody a couple of days ago! She fluffs herself out and is enormous - you could fit dozens of eggs under her! Unfortunately none of them will hatch though :(
So I've been tipping her off the nest when I can - she's heavy (really heavy!) but is so gentle she just clucks disapprovingly and hasn't pecked me once - even the shy Pekins will peck any hand or hen that comes near when they are sitting on the nest - I watched Maude furiously pecking Renee's neck the other day as she tried to lay!
So desperate measures etc - I bought an 'under bed storage box' which is a wide large box, just slightly smaller than the width of the coop, and filled that with straw and put that in front of the nest boxes to provide an additional laying area.
Renee was the first to investigate this strange new addition - she scratted the straw for a bit, then decided it was either a bit boring or she could wait to lay and went back outside.
Hopefully there will be a couple of eggs in it when I check later today.
Took this picture of Claudia and she looks like a bowling pin :)
(bonus points for the chicken death-stare too)
I was a bit worried yesterday as I noticed Velma, our massive Brahma beast, was sitting on the nest a lot. She even stayed on it when I went and offered mealworms (something which she'd have gladly stopped mid-laying an egg for!)
So when I went in to turf Maude off the nest (she's our broody Lavendar Pekin) - I received a couple of vicious pecks (broody's are hilarious as they warn you off and peck at any would-be attackers) - luckily as she's so small it really doesn't hurt.
I was slightly concerned approaching Velma as she's a *lot* bigger and probably could hurt you if she wanted to. I approached and she made strange clucky noises, not her usual calls. I reached under her and lifted her up, she was so fluffed out she filled a whole nest-box - she's massive when she spreads out!
She continued to make warning coo's, but didn't peck me at all, just watched me with her quizzical sideways peering.
She realised I wasn't going to give up as I lifted her out (not easy as it's a bit of a reach to the back of the house and she's really heavy), she agreed to leave the (empty!) nest and grab something to eat.
She's back on the nest today though. Silly hen. But a lovely, sweet and gentle hen. I've never seen a broody not peck before... Bless her.
(that's the noise a pirate chicken would possibly make).
Yesterday we had SIX eggs in one day! :)
The medium white egg at the back is Renee's, the huuuge very light cream egg at the front is new girl Claudia's!
We will be drowning in eggs very shortly..!
We de-stressed one evening with a gorgeous walk through Middleton (Bluebell) Woods in Ilkley...
The sun was low in the sky and shining through the trees, highlighting the bluebells carpeting the floor.
We watched the sunset, then made our way home, happy.
Well, we had a bit of a mammoth day today, we visited the lovely people at Manor Farm Poultry and were shown round all their wonderful hens and Emu's and ducks and god knows what else!
We originally wanted to look at their Brahmas, but they sold the last one the day before our visit. But there were so many other wonderful and fancy breeds we were spoilt for choice, and instead of coming home with 1 hen, we ended up with three!
So, without further ado, meet:
Olga the Russian Orloff:
Frieda the Thüringian:
Claudia the Vorwerk:
There's been a bit of aggro whilst the pecking-order is sorted, but hopefully the worst should be over now. The little ones (Olga and Frieda) have kept away from the others - Olga seems to be a bit chesty but I think that's due to the stress of moving and will hopefully clear up in a week.
They're beautiful hens, and Claudia is a large bird and really striking and didn't mind me stroking her at all - apparently Thüringians are really quick to tame and will seek your company - Helen already had Frieda eating from her hand and she stepped onto my arm so I could put her to bed - so sweet!
Hopefully you'll get a decent look at them over the coming weeks...
I love summer (well, what summer we get, all 2 days of it!) - I like the early signs that it's on it's way - daffodils, green leaves suddenly appearing, cherry blossom...
One of the signs that really says "it's nearly here!" is Milly's cherry blossom tree, and it's in full flower now and looks gorgeous:
My mum is currently in hospital - she had hip replacement surgery on Wednesday so hopefully will be home later today, but she has several weeks recovery ahead of her so I hope my dad is up to the task!
It's been a bit manic lately with work and hospital visits / giving lifts to dad, so hopefully we'll have more time to work on the site and spend with the hens as things calm down a bit. This weekend we're spending it with mum to make sure she's ok, she'd doing really well so far so fingers crossed.
On Friday evening, the sun was out and it was a lovely evening - we got home early from work and let Daphne out onto the lawn to sit in the sun and eat grass, mealworms and sunflower seeds, whatever she wanted.
She also had some time wrapped in a towel and cuddled on the sofa with Helen, before having a bit more time out in the sun.
When it was time, we took her to the vets (this time a younger guy) and explained how her leg hadn't got any better - the vet was lovely, kind and gentle with her, took our word for things so didn't unnecessarily stress her out and actually seemed to want to find out the root cause of her problem.
He quickly pointed out that she had restricted blood flow in her leg - he showed us how one foot was cold, the other warm, and also the normal one had a pink-ish tinge to the skin, the other didn't. He said at that point that it wasn't a simple injury or hip problem, which is why the meds hadn't really worked (other than for pain relief) - the problem was something pressing on the main artery to her leg. He explained that it was likely to be a tumour or cancerous growth, and that even though they could x-ray to confirm this, it wouldn't really change the outcome, and it would just pro-long things.
We took the decision to have her humanely put to sleep - we were both gutted as she was an absolutely lovely little (huge!) hen, but it was for the best.
She's not in pain now.
She's had 5 days of meds and I don't think I see much improvement. :(
Daphne is so sweet I really want to give her a chance but if she's suffering it might be for the best, but I have been reading up and dislocated hips are quite common and although they don't fully heal the hen can live a 'normal'-ish life. I'm just a bit concerned it could be something more serious - the vet didn't think it was leg/foot related.
We'll go back to the vets with her tomorrow evening to see if anything else can be done...
Daphne one of our rescue Brahma's was always a bit quiet - from day one she slept a lot and sometimes stumbled when she preened under her wings - I hoped it was just because she was a bit stressed and getting used to the new surroundings and girls.
But she's got worse over the last few days and looks to be in pain when she walks, so we took her to the vets on Friday.
She behaved really well despite been one of the more flighty hens, she's not very used to human contact yet - but that's definitely changing after getting poked and prodded at the vets. The vet said they couldn't feel anything wrong in the feet or legs, and that it wasn't egg-binding or other lumps so could possibly be a simple sprain/swelling, or something more ominous such as arthritis - even though she's so young - or some kind of hip defect.
She's having Loxicom meds injected into her beak every evening (which you can guess she hates, and is quite strongly expressing her displeasure at this!) - which is an anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever for dogs but ok for hens in small doses... It won't "fix" what's wrong with her but might give some relief and chance for the swelling to go down if it is some kind of muscle injury, say if she jumped down from a perch the wrong way or something like that.
The vet said after a week we should see how she is - if she's better, great, but if not then the options become "expensive", or "terminal"... :(
She fell asleep in Helen's arms the first night we gave her the meds. She is so sweet (Daphne! Though Helen is too.)
Fingers crossed for her.
It's someone's 90th birthday today. I can't say I'm going to particularly make an effort to celebrate the Queen's birthday, mostly because it's a normal working day (if it had been an extra bank holiday you can bet I'd be extra-happy to celebrate with her! For someone who's lead such a privileged and cushty life, it's the least she could have done!)
So yeah, happy birthday, or something.
Turn the vacuum on right next to them ;)
We could tell Aubree was blind right away, but we didn't know she was deaf for a few days. It was only when we saw she wasn't reacting to Kasper barking or the vacuum that we thought "oh no! Is she deaf as well?!"
Here's a video that shows the vacuum being turned on and used right next to her, yet she doesn't react at all:
I watched Velma laying an egg next to the nest box where Maude is sitting on eggs, and after she'd laid, Maude reached across and gently rolled Velma's fresh egg to her nest and sat back down, and I got a glimpse of how many eggs she's sat on!
Bear in mind Maude is a tiny Lavendar Pekin - she's completely fluffed up to cover all the eggs and keep them warm - I just wish she'd realise they're not going to hatch and come out and have something to eat and drink!
Renee showing off her feathers, she even has lovehearts :)
She's becoming one of my favourites (if I had favourites!! Don't tell the others!) as she's really laid back for a supposedly flighty breed, and her eggs are so amazing... She's also one of the first to have a nosy at what I'm doing when I'm in the coop (just after Ariel!)
I was sure we'd lost another chicken last night :(
Scarlet had just rung on a video chat as I was checking on the hens, so I showed her them all, then realised Maude our little Lavendar Pekin was missing - I found her in the nest box slumped, all mis-shapen and fluffed up, head resting on the ground eye open, breathing slowly... so I instantly feared the worst.
I reached in to mover her, and the little bugger pecked me viciously! (well, as viciously as something that small can anyway).
She was just broody! Thank god... I really thought she was a goner!
After turfing her off (even mealworms wouldn't move her), I rescued the five eggs under her (one of which is a rubber one to show the girls where to lay so she'd have had an even harder time hatching that one).
She's on the nest now - but at least I know she's not half-dead.