Monday, 11 November 2013

Autumn Sunshine

We have had some crisp and frosty mornings here lately, with the sun no longer reaching to the top of the sky, but the Autumn time is just beautiful and well worth the colder and darker days.
Poor Whitey Didee doesn't seem to get a lot of sun in her isolated pen area, so when I have some time I have locked the others into their run and allowed Didee out on her own to get some sun on her back.

She was sitting on the edge of our thigh-high veg box and suddenly flew up onto my bust!!!  It was so sudden and so funny - she just stayed there, looking at me and then looking at my Mister!
Then she climbed up onto my shoulder to imitate a pirate's parrot!

She had done a bit of preening today and again picked off a bit of scab and was bleeding.  I was able to clear a bit of scab off too and even cleared an exit hole the puss, which has to be good.  We tried to take a photo but this was as far as we got before she flew out of my hands.
Didee is such a tame and fun little bird.  Helping her to get better with now every-second-day cleaning has really made us close and helped me to get to know chickens so much better.  She has taught me a lot and I am so much more confident as a hen keeper.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hen's Day Out

We still have our white hen Didee in an isolation pen so that the other two won't peck at her and so far it seems to be going well.  On Friday the sun was shining so I let her out for a while with the others, thinking that they'd all be so happy in the warmth that they would leave each other alone.  I was wrong.  When I brought her inside at the end of the day for her daily antiseptic wound-cleaning there was a new bit of the wound that had been pecked... it is such a shame.  I can't risk it again as I want her wound to heal up, so I will have to just keep her on her own and not feel too sorry for her.  It really is for her own good.
At least the wound wasn't oozing any puss, but there are a lot of red/black scabs unfortunately.

As for the other hens, they are gobbling up the seeds that we give them and not really eating any of the layers pellets, so we shall have to stop giving them seeds I think.  The pellets are specifically designed to give them all the nutrients they need so we must do all that we can to encourage them to eat these.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Moult Continues

I tried to take photos of my very busy and always moving Scots Dumpy hen, Bizzy Lizzy.  Last week I got photos of the other two girls but Bizzy Lizzy just wouldn't stay still.  But this week I have succeeded!

She looks so funny without her tall tail feathers!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Chicken Bunting Quilt

I do a bit of sewing and quilting in my spare time.  Last year I bought a bundle of chicken themed fabrics from ebay without any sort of plan as to how I would use them.  This year I went to a sewing and quilting workshop day and one of the classes I took required a bundle of various fabric strips, so I was all set to create this:
Moulting Rosie admiring my chicken bunting quilt.
I am going to use this as a lap quilt for those days when I just need a little something to keep me snuggly.  I know it isn't the most attractive or beautiful quilt, but the fabrics do make me smile when I look at it.  The pattern has been featured in Creative Quilting magazine here in the UK and the author Fiona is the person who took us for this workshop.  If you click here you can see just how lovely her original quilt is.


First I cut the fabric into 2.5" strips and sewed them together in rows of 4.  If I were to make a bed quilt then rows of 5 would be more visually pleasing.

Using thin cardboard from a cereal box I cut out a triangle that was the same height as my sewn and pressed together strips.  The top angle of the triangle is 40 degrees and the base of the triangle has two 70 degree angles.

Laying the cardboard triangle - template - onto the strip sets I used my rotary cutter to cut out all the triangles.  I then cut some plain grey fabric into wide strips that matched the height of my strips and the triangle template and cut them into triangles too.

Then I sewed them together side-by-side.

Then once I had a collection of these I sewed lay them out to make sure I didn't have too many similar triangles near one another then started sewing them into rows, and then sewing the rows together.

Lastly I stitched the three quilt layers together using straight stitching about 1cm inside each triangle.  
the back

I didn't buy enough backing fabric for my quilt so had to do a bit of "cut and paste" but it looks okay and I quite like the solitary hen in the corner.
Hope you like my little chicken bunting quilt!
I still have some chicken fabric left over, so if you know of any other projects I could make, please share the link with me!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Autumn update

Everyone has gone off their lay now as Autumn is setting in.
Rosie our bantam Australorp is our top hen but she still refuses to sleep on the perch and prefers nestling into the shavings on the floor of the house.  The last few nights I have seen her settling down for the night inside the nest box - a behaviour I don't want to encourage, so I have blocked the nest boxes up for now and will leave it like that until they start laying again.
It seems strange that she doesn't want to be up higher than the others.  It is also a bit of a shame, as Bizzy Lizzy our Scots Dumpy has lately taken to pecking at the feet of the other hens so that they jump off the perch and tries to have the whole thing all to herself.  Once it is dark I go back out and pop Whitey Didee back onto the perch - by that time it is too dark for B.Lizzy to defend anything.  I've even seen her sharpening her beak on the concrete - much like a carving knife is sharpened before ...eek.  When she pecks food out of my hand it always hurts but no blood has been drawn - so far.
We are still keeping an eye on Whitey Didee.  I let her sleep with the others at night but in the day she gets put into the isolation area so that the other two can't peck at her wound.  I do let her out with the others but only if I am out there, and I use a long bamboo stick to hover over her tail so that the other two are deterred from showing any interest.  She does seem to be knocking off some scab every day with her preening, which just causes bleeding.  The vet has said the next step could be a bucket collar but at the moment we are just trying to keep her clean and not bored.

Everyone is moulting at the moment, and it is so funny!

Balding Rosie

Whitey Didee, all scruffy and bald
Sorry, no photos of B.Lizzy as every one that I took of her she was moving and they turned out blurry.  She has lost all her tall tail feathers and now looks really stumpy.  There are a lot of her stripey feathers around but you can't see any bald patches on her at all.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Our hen has died

But it isn't the one you would think!  Our lovely Australorp hen Matilda has passed away.
After she came out of her broody state, she seemed happy enough to be the second hen.  But within a couple of weeks we noticed that she was doing some strange head rolling. At first she seemed to roll her head when she first entered the hen house or if I shone a torch into the house at night, so I thought it may be something to do with the change of light to dark that triggered her behaviour.   Then I thought it may be wry neck so was giving her water additives for strength. (Polyvisol Enfamil, vitamin E with selenium)
After a month the head rolling behaviour turned into complete fits.  She would flap and flail around in the house going backwards and stumbling around in circles.  One morning as she was about to come down the ramp she took a fit and rolled down the ramp.  I could pick her up and gently stroke her neck and it did seem to settle her quickly.  One evening I was peeking at them through their window so that I wouldn't disturb them and all of a sudden without any warning or reason Matilda flapped and flailed around in circles on the floor of their coop out of control.  I googled this condition but came up with nothing apart from electrolytes added to their water. (electrolytes are recommended for epilepsy)
We really hoped that these fits were related to an injury of some sort and that they would soon pass.  We were also intensely looking after our white hen Didee, so the sudden change from head rolling to full fits has shocked us.
After a few of these fits Matilda soon became demoted to third in the pecking order.  Due to all the flailing inside the coop her primary wing feathers gradually broke off and some of her other feathers were jutting out at odd angles - indicating a lack of grooming.  

She looked very sorry for herself with a shrunken comb and hunched down, although she always stayed with the other hens and was keen to be a part of normal foraging and scratching routines.
Matilda, top left, still part of the gang

The hen house is reasonably close to our bedroom window and one night we could hear her flailing around.  She had four fits that night which is just too many to be considered something that will soon pass, so I took her to the vets the next day.
The vet checked her over and found a small egg stuck inside her, but as the surgery was busy said she'd try to get it out after the others had all left and would phone us to collect her.  We did get a phone call but the vet said that the egg was impossible to remove and was obviously causing Matilda a lot of pain.  Along with the mysterious fits that the vet couldn't account for, the vet suggested she wasn't having a very enjoyable life and suggested putting her to sleep.  So we agreed.  We never saw our darling Matilda again.
Matilda in good times

She was a loving and kind top-hen.  Always personable and interested in her humans.  She will be greatly missed.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Hen wounds and Isolation

Our white hen Didee has been given more antibiotics - 0.4mls daily - to help her with her wound and we are still cleaning it daily.  At the last visit to the vets they removed the entire scab - underneath her skin is very swollen and puss is trying to get out through 3 of the holes normally reserved for feathers to grow through.  Poor thing.  Whilst she had no scab protecting her the smallest peck caused a lot of bleeding.  She seems to mostly do it to herself when she is trying to preen.  So it seems it is my full time job to keep her from bleeding and attracting the others.

And then to make matters worse, Bizzy Lizzy our Scots Dumpy pecked Didee in the comb and there were blood drops splattered all over the walls inside their house - possibly splattered as Didee shook her head.  But it was a right mess - so poor Didee had to have yet another bath.  But as this isn't as gross we took a couple of photos.

During the week I noticed a lot of blood drops on their house ramp, as I was walking over to them I noticed she had a lot of blood near her tail and then horror of horrors - our top hen Rosie went for her and took away a large amount of scab in her beak!  Now the other hens know all about her wound and her tail is the source of much interest.  I took her to the vet and despite the swelling having gone down it seems that Rosie took a chunk of flesh off her as well as the scab and so now she not only has her original infected wound but a newly dug-out wound to contend with.  So we won't be using that smelly anit-pecking spray anymore as it did not deter them for very long.

So now it's more antibiotics and an isolation house.  We put her in a cat basket in our house that first night and bought a new outdoor house the next day.  We already had this metal cage when we first got our hens but it was stacked away in a shed - glad it has come in handy again.  That first night in the house she was very droopy and kept shutting her eyes.  I really want to help her fight these troubles.  She is such a lovely hen.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Holiday Souvenir

Recently we went on holiday and had a lovely relaxing time.  Whilst we were away we put our cats into a cattery and our hens into a hen hotel.  It was a lovely place.  They had their own run and house underneath an apple tree.  On the day we went to collect them I phone first to let her know we were on our way when I was told that she had seen blood drops in their house this morning.  After inspecting the birds she discovered a big scab on our white hen's tail that had been knocked!
She didn't have any sores on her at all when we sent them there, so possibly she had been pecked out of boredom in their holiday hen enclosure.  She had put some wound powder onto the scab but we decided to take her to the vets that day on our way home just to get her checked out.  The vet gave us antibiotics to administer down her beak for the next 5 days and advised us not to use any more of the wound powder, so that she'd be better able to see the wound next time we came in.
We kept her with the others in the back yard as usual and sprayed her tail with a brown smelly anti-peck spray.  We took her back to the vet after the 5 days and this time they cleaned her wound with an antiseptic wash and picked off the scab.  Didee was to have a further 10 day course of double-dose antibiotics and I was to clean her wound every day with the antiseptic wash.
Our cat Mr Bingley looking at Whitey Didee with her new anti-peck tail and Rosie through the window

Now that the scab is gone you can see the sore - I won't take photos as it is very gross.  A mound has swollen up near her preen gland, about the size of a good apricot.  It is a bit pussey and bloody and the feathers are trying to grow right through it and around it.  Her preen gland is swollen and pink too.  Having it cleaned and touched seems to hurt her a bit so I have to be very gentle and she really doesn't like taking the medicine.  I hold her firmly around the body and the head whilst my Mister administers the drops down her beak with a syringe, trying to get it to go down the right tract!  We have taken to giving her meal worms afterwards as a reward for her daily sessions and she does relish that part of the ordeal.
When I go outside she used to be so easy to pick up but now she seems to hide from me, she must be associating the catch and cuddle with the trauma of medicine and wound cleaning.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Summer Update

I am loving being a backyard chicken owner.  It is the highlight of my day to look out the window and see what they are up to, and then to go outside and have four little friends come trotting towards me.  I have enjoyed coming to their aid in the fight against red-mite terrorists and keeping their feed and water fresh.  It is a more rewarding experience than I had ever imagined.

So this is what the girls are up to lately:

Our Scots Dumpy Bizzy Lizzy has been regularly laying eggs in a corner of the garden instead of in the nest box and has been leaving a lot of feathers in the nest, so I think she will soon go broody unfortunately.  She is a really good egg layer too.
Rosie has been the head of the pecking order since Matilda went broody but now that she is no longer broody, Rosie has somehow maintained her new status of top hen and Matilda seems happy to be second in command.
We haven't seen any eggs from Matilda yet, but I'm sure she will start laying again in time.
Whitey Didee is still at the bottom but is a resilient little bird who manages to stay out of trouble and still have a very full and happy day.  She has been doing some really loud warning calls for absolutely no reason.  She just stands there "her-ARK!  her-ARK!" over and over.  No other hens bothering her and even when I go up to her she just stands there calling as though someone is killing her.  I've even picked her up whilst she's doing it and tried to calm her, which eventually works, but once put back down she still seems jumpy.  It isn't every day though, so hopefully it will pass.

And this is what we have been up to lately:

We have had a lot of rainy downpours lately, despite it being Summer, and our hens don't really have a lot of shelter.  So my Mister made this shelter to sit next to their house.

He made it to have the same angle run-off as their house run.  It has three upright posts on the vertical side attached to a rectangle framework on the ground.  The rock is just to weigh it down during windy days.

He also made the small door to their run, it just slides in from the top at night to keep animals from getting into their run and their feed container.

Hope you are all enjoying your Summer with your hens!  I have enjoyed reading how other hen keepers are coping with the variety of weather we've all been having lately.  Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, it all adds to my knowledge so that I can give the best life possible to my hens.

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Brood is Broken

Our top hen Matilda has been broody for over a month now and despite all of our efforts to break her brooding we had not succeeded, until now.
With her sitting in the nest box all the time she became the perfect victim for the dreaded red mite.  I am so disappointed that we have got red mite, as it sounds very difficult to eradicate.  Red mite hide in the daytime and only come out at night to feed on the hens and irritate them.  They have a new hatching cycle of 7 days.
These aren't my red mites, I got the photo from the internet
Click photo for the source

I bought the natural powder that stops the mites from hatching and I bought a safe cleaning fluid that dilutes in water and gave the whole house a thorough cleaning out.  I cleaned it every fifth day to try to get each new hatching generation, but they still seemed to be there.  So I completely emptied the house and gave it the most thorough scrub down of it's life and left it open all day to dry out.
Matilda being ousted for an entire day and not being able to sit seems to have cured her of her broodiness at last!
But she is now not at the top of the pecking order, she is second at the moment, but our Scots Dumpy is so eager to be top that I don't know how long Matilda's kindly ways will keep her soldier liker determination at bay.
I have been reading a few blogs that recommend herbs inside the nest box to deter insects, but they don't mention red mite.  Has anybody had success with any products to get rid of red mite?

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Gone Broody!

Our top hen Matilda has gone broody!  I can't believe it!  And we have no fertilised eggs for her either.
She has dropped lots of feathers from under her tummy and is sitting in one of the nest boxes ON NOTHING!
It is really a bit funny.
So now we have only been getting 3 eggs at the most.
I of course went googling around to find out how to deter her from sitting on nothing.  So far I have tried putting ice packs underneath her to cool her down but she just stays there and warms them up, no matter how often I renew them.  I have also shoved her off the nest a number of times throughout the day to make sure she toilets, drinks and eats, but she just rushes back into the nest within 20 minutes.
Has anyone got any other ideas that they've found successful?
I don't know what this will do to the pecking order, as she is the top hen, and is a really gentle leader.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Secret Nests

I had regularly been getting 3 eggs a day, but the other day it was down to only 2 eggs.  I thought this was strange as all the hens are in lay and I had been thinking that our Scots Dumpy Bizzy Lizzy hadn't been laying lately.  So I looked around the garden for a secret nest but couldn't find one anywhere.
Then I found it today!!!

It was beneath the yew hedge near our shed.  There were 5 eggs stashed away there.

But wait til you hear how I found them!
One of our cats, Mr Darcy was sitting snuggled down under the yew hedge, which is a bit unusual for him.  When I walked towards him he walked out and there were the eggs!  He must have been copying the hens and was lying with his tummy on the eggs!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Getting into a routine

I have really been enjoying being a hen owner.  It is so wonderful to sit and watch these sweet and funny creatures explore our garden and make new discoveries.  We are trying to train them to eat out of our hands.  So far the Scots Dumpy has remained aloof, but she does come closer to us now.  

Our two Australorps, Rosie at the back and Matilda in the front

Now that our white hen is laying hard shelled eggs, she wants to get up into the nest box more often and our Scots Dumpy Bizzy Lizzy just won't let her.  She sits at the top of the ramp and blocks the entrance.  Poor Didee has been squawking a lot in protest.
Our Scots Dumpy is a wee besom!

We had also noticed earlier in the week that Didee had a lot of drops of blood on her chest, head and back feathers.  The other three hens were very interested in this and were pecking at her feathers.  We tried to inspect her and the house to see what the cause was and found blood on the bowl that Didee often perches upon as well as some on the perch.  We think she may have caught her foot on one of the hawthorn bush thorns and has been cleaning herself with her foot.  It did rain later that day, so it all washed off her feathers thank goodness.  But a white hen with blood on her is not a good idea - very attractive to the other birds.

This week we have regularly been getting three eggs a day!  It has been just wonderful to have such lovely eggs from our own pets.  The yolks are so bright and orange! 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Eggs, glorious eggs!

Last time I wrote I was secretly putting aside our new hen's eggs, in the hope that someone would go broody.  Sadly nobody has and I would say that by now those lovely little fertile eggs are no longer viable.  What a shame.
But one good thing is that today, for the first time EVER we have finally had one hard shelled egg from every single hen!  We are so thrilled to have four healthy and laying hens!  So I don't mind not getting chicks (for now) because I just love my girls and the wonderful work they do for us.
Bizzy Lizzy our antisocial Scots Dumpy laid her egg on it's own in the second nest box, but the other 3 Australorp eggs are in the left box.  The little white one is from our white hen.

And so to collect these lovely bundles of wonderfulness, I have made a basket.  I bought the little basket bare and saw this sweet hen fabric on the internet and had to make a padded lining out of it.  It even has a matching ribbon!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Hopes and sunshine!

Shhh - I had been secretly collecting our two new hen's eggs.  Before we got them they had been with a rooster, so it is very possible that their eggs may be fertile.  Today I am putting them into the nestbox just in case any of our hen sees the collection and they decide to go broody and sit on them!
The sun has shone today!  Oh Yay!! Here is a photo of our hens all enjoying the BIGGEST dandelion weed I have ever seen!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Foiling their plans


Despite the miserable weather we had yesterday, we were given three precious eggs from our four hens.  I think they are from Matilda - top hen, Bizzy Lizzy our Scots Dumpy and ...wait for it.. Didee!  Yay for a hard shell!  I think it is hers because it is much lighter in colour to the ones that Rosie has laid so far, and it had some yellow yolk on the shell.  This could easily be remnants of her last two soft-shelled lays of recent days.  I saw Didee peck at Matilda's egg to unfortunately, and she cracked it slightly.  So shall have to get outside as soon as possible and remove eggs quickly to deter her from the habit of egg eating.
Matilda our Australorp - we love their big black eyes

Night time

The continuing night time saga where the other hens don't let Didee enter the hen house may be coming to it's end.  Last night we confined them to the area beneath their hen house, so they had no other choice but to let her come up into the house - she couldn't find any alternative - up the ramp was the only place for her to go, and up she went!  Mind you, the two new hens still need to be picked up and put onto the perch at night - and Rosie still jumps off once I leave.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Soft shelled eggs

The last couple of days we have noticed a soft shelled egg in the hen house.  It hasn't been in the nest boxes but instead underneath the perch.  The first morning that I saw it there, Didee our new white hen was standing there with her beak in the yolk!  So I think it may be hers.  Then today another soft shelled egg and my Mister saw Didee hanging around the door of the house when he had spotted the soft egg.

But at least they are ALL laying!

If you count today's soft shelled egg, then all four hens have laid an egg today!  This is our first time ever that all four of our hens have laid an egg on the same day!  We get two white-ish ones, and the shinier one is the Scots Dumpy egg.  The milky-tea coloured egg must be our new hen Rosie's egg.  If Didee starts laying firm shelled eggs, then we may be in business!

Whitey Didee is still escaping to a tree at night - I have to go and collect her and carry her into the hen house after dark as they still won't let her into the house.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Establishing their Place

Our two new hens are making good progress in our little flock.

Whitey Didee and Rosie are getting along well.  Our Scots Dumpy named Bizzy Lizzy is still acting threatening towards Didee, but not too violently, so I think she is getting used to the new hens being around.  Didee doesn't seem to be too bothered about being with the other three darker hens.  She does go to the same general area that they are in, but never really in amongst them.  Her confidence in her environment is growing, but she knows her place and seems not to mind.

Matilda our black Australorp is still the top of the pecking order, but she is a sweet and gentle leader, who only gives a quick little warning peck to the others if they get too close.  She seems to accepted her look-alike Rosie very well, and they are spending a lot of time together - Rosie following Matilda around wherever they go like a desperate best friend.  It's really sweet to see.  Rosie does have a few feathers missing from the back of her neck - from the rooster that she had been with before she came to us.  Hopefully this will grow back in soon, if not we will have to wait until the Autumn moult.


This week I have been putting any eggs laid by our two new hens aside, just in case somebody becomes broody, then I could put their fertile eggs under a broody!  Sadly, it has been a week now, and still nobody is showing signs of wanting to stay in the nesting box, but I'll keep them for a little bit longer - apparently if a hen has been with a rooster they can potentially be producing fertile eggs for 12 days.

Early on in the week, when we had only had our two new hens for a couple of days, our new hen Whitey Didee was walking around croaking loudly.  So I guessed that she wanted to lay an egg but didn't know where to go.  I picked her up and put her in the nest box where Bizzy Lizzy's egg was still sitting and she laid straight away!  I have also had to pick up Rosie and put her into the nest box when she was crowing loudly, and she too laid quickly.

Night time

At first, night time was a nightmare!  Nobody seemed to want to go up the ramp, and then when somebody did go up, they wouldn't let anybody else in.  Then they'd come out, and someone else would go to the top of the ramp and block the entrance.  Whitey Didee was so distressed at all this that she flew up into the nearby trees!  A lot of to-ing and fro-ing as it was getting dark, so we coralled them in like sheep in a pen and they went into the house.  I had to put the two new hens onto the perch myself - but Rosie just won't stay on and jumps off immediately every time.  Ugghh!  I hope they get better at night time SOON.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Sorting out their new Pecking Order

We have been supervising the hens outside today - a nice way to spend World Earth Day.
Our Scots Dumpy was really going for our new white Australorp hen Didee.  She jumped onto her back, pinning her down and tore out some feathers a couple of times.  This is just awful to see, and we didn't let her continue.  But all the books say that they do need to sort out their pecking order, so we didn't want to interfere too much and gave them plenty of space to escape one another.

So far our new Australorp Rosie has been hanging around with our other black Australorp Matilda a lot.  It's really hard to tell them apart too.  Good to see that Rosie is happy to give the Scots Dumpy a peck now and then - very pleased that there is someone else to keep Bizzy Lizzy from being such a bully!  If only whitey Didee had established herself higher as well, then life would be better for her.

Rosie and Matilda

Rosie's comb and wattle are becoming redder, so the only way to tell her apart from our other black hen is that her comb is slightly bigger than Matilda's.  Mind you, Matilda is used to us and comes up to say hello quickly, so that makes it easy to know it is her we're feeding.
Matilda was doing a lot of squawking this afternoon - I hope it doesn't annoy the neighbours in their gardens?  But she did eventually lay an egg, so that must have been what she was telling us about.

Sleepy time Surprise

We were out late tonight, and when we got home it was dark.  I checked on the hens and Matilda and Bizzy Lizzy were on their perch as usual and the new Rosie decided to sleep on the floor behind them.  But there was no Whitey Didee!!!!  I looked all around for her and found her high up in one of the spikiest thorn trees that we have!  Poor thing!  She wasn't even inside the enclosure - she'd flown over it and up into a tree for safety!  I picked her down from the tree and put her into the house.  I hope she gets used to the night time routine soon - maybe that naughty Bizzy Lizzy wouldn't let her into the house?  At least I'll be home tomorrow night to watch the shenanigans for myself.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Our New Arrivals

We went for a long drive on the weekend and collected two new hens!  We have one new black and one new white Australorp bantams and they are just lovely!  Apparently they have both been with a rooster and so for the next week-or-so their eggs will be fertile!  Oh I would love it if one of the hens became broody, we'd have eggs for her to sit on!!

We decided to give our new hens the same names as our passed away hens.  So here they are:
The new Rosie and Didee!
So far we have noticed that our Scots Dumpy Bizzy Lizzy has flown right up and come down directly onto Whitey Didee's head!  Twice!  So we put her out of the enclosure with food and water so that the three Australorps could have some time together under the house.
I had to go out today and when I arrived home Whitey Didee was perched on top of the drinker - so strange!  Perhaps she wanted to get up high and away from the others?  Then poor Bizzy Lizzy, she couldn't get inside to the nesting boxes so she had to lay her egg outside in a shaded part of the garden.  Then I noticed an egg had been laid by one of the Australorp's on the ground inside the enclosure.  I really don't think our Matilda would suddenly start not laying in the nest box, so it must be one of the new Australorps!  It could even be fertile!
Whitey Didee

It is such a relief to have four healthy hens again.
Here is a photo of all four of them together, under supervision of course.  I must keep an eye on Bizzy Lizzy's head jumping!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Our poor ill hen has died.

We have had the sun out a little lately and it is so nice to spend some time with our hens in the garden.  I am really enjoying watching them and getting to know their behaviours.  In the sunshine they lie on their side and splay their wing out!  Such a strange posture really, but comforting to know that they feel so relaxed with us present that they are happy to sit themselves in such a vulnerable position.
Rosie when we first got to know her.

Rosie's Health Deteriorates

The day after my previous post I was worried about whether Rosie wouldn't come down the ramp to greet me the next morning, but I was very relieved to open the hen house and see her sitting up on the perch.  She ventured out after the others and had been eating pellets throughout that morning.
I took her to the vets, as I didn't want to see her go the same way as poor Didee and to see if it was something we could help with.  The vet couldn't be sure of what was causing Rosie to be unwell but suggested a few things we could try to feed her just in case it was a digestion problem.

So we fed her some milky bread and even some fatty beef trimmings - it was a miracle to see her zoom in, snatch the beef and run off to eat it by herself.  Her appetite for wheat seeds in the evenings has increased.  I've also read that beef-flavoured cat food can help if there is something not right, so I have fed her some of this too.  It certainly gave her more solid poos, which was an improvement, as I have needed to give Rosie a few bottom-feather baths lately. (and was so surprised to find that she loves the blow dryer!)
Her comb was looking more red by the weekend, although when she tried to get up onto a stone she stumbled and fell backwards.  I think she misjudged the position of the rock shew was trying to stand upon.  So she still didn't seem to have a lot of strength.  The others did leave her alone which is kind.

Although we have had some sunshine, it has clouded over again and is bitterly cold.  Two days ago I had Rosie in the house on my lap and fed her some cooled scrambled egg, which by the end of the day she had eaten the entire thing, so I was very hopeful that she may regain her strength.  But when I put her back into the house with the others she could stay on the perch and fell off.  So I put her into the nest box for the night.  I did notice that her comb and wattle was looking a very blue, red colour - referred to as 'hearty'.  This can be a sign that her systems are under a lot of strain.

Then yesterday she stayed in the nest box, wouldn't eat anything, was still looking hearty and shaking her head quite a lot.  Sadly she died in the afternoon.  Poor little thing.
I really loved our two blue Orpingtons and really wanted to have them as friends for a very long time.  I wish they had not been the first to leave us.
Rosie hated the snow.

So... looking to the future

We were planning on getting a new hen to replace our Didee this coming weekend, so I shall phone and see if we can collect two hens instead.  I think I will call the new hens Rosie and Didee too.
So hopefully the next post will be more cheerful to read and I can introduce two new hens.

Monday, 1 April 2013


The sun is really trying to come out today, so I will do all that I can to encourage it by thoroughly cleaning out the hen house.  We let the hens out into the garden today whilst cleaning, they just love exploring every nook and crannie.


Bizzy Lizzy our Scots Dumpy and Matilda our Australorp are laying eggs regularly now.  We've had 2 eggs a day for 3 days in a row, then only 1 egg from Matilda (Bizzy Lizzy must have been having a day off) then both layed again today.


Today I noticed that Rosie had a really puffy face - poor thing.  The first thing I noticed was her eyes were squinting instead of being fully open.  Then upon closer inspection I saw that her face was all swollen and a lot paler than usual.

Perhaps she has eaten something bad today whilst out in the garden?  We do have a mouldy log up under our cherry trees...  At least there is something physically wrong with her, makes me think that there will be something I can do to help her.  I had thought she might be pining for her sister Didee who died recently, and if that were the case I wouldn't know what to do to help.  So I'll start looking into puffy face symptoms this evening and see what I can do to help.

Rosie took herself off to the nesting box and went to sleep, so I let her stay there.
Oh I do hope she'll still be there in the morning.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Please feel free to ignore this post.
Apparently google reader is closing, so I am claiming ownership of this blog on the bloglovin' platform.
Nothing here will change really.

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Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Sun Shines

The sun has been shining today, even though it is still very cold.

The hens have taken the chance to all sit right up against the wooden shed to try and soak up some of the warmth without any wind.  They stretch out one leg and one wing and kind of sit on their sides!  They've loved the warmth today.
We spent some time with them finding worms and slaterbugs for them.  When they grab at a worm they go pick it up in the middle and then whack it onto the ground - seems like they do this to shake off the soil.

...and Rosie

I gave Rosie's bottom feathers a warm bath today, but I took a warm basin of water and 2 cloths and did it outside in the sunshine.  I thought she'd enjoy getting dried in the sunshine but unfortunately she was hunched up and seemed a bit depressed for the rest of the afternoon.  She did snooze up against the shed wall with the others though.