Saturday, December 16, 2006

Molting over...

It seems that Kiev and Leia have stopped molting and in fact Kiev has grown some lovely new white and caramel coloured feathers.

She looks like a fine specimen of Buff Orpington at last (she has even got feathers on her bottom at last - no more baboon bum, hooray!).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not amused!

The chooks looked such a sorry sight after their adventerous night that I felt the need to take some pics.

Molly seemed to think this was a little insensitive (she might have a point!).


It was a wild old night last night here is Southampton, even so, I couldn't believe my eyes this morning when I saw that the roof of the coop/run had blown off! The roof is really heavy, it takes two of us to lift it (although when pushed I found out this morning that in fact one person can reinstate it on their own!).

Leia and Kiev (who are frequently found lacking in the common sense department) were huddled inside the coop with the lashing rain having soaked them to the skin. Molly, showing a bit more sense, was underneath the coop.

I don't know when the roof blew off, but the inside of the coop, the newspaper and wood shavings, were absolutely sodden. The three nestboxes were still nice and dry and snug, but as it was not night time and not time to lay an egg, the chooks evidently elected not to use them.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Molting Chickens

For some time now, we have noticed quite a lot of Kiev's and Leia's feathers in the coop and run and generally around the place. It seems they are molting, which evidently chickens do about once a year (further information about molting here). Aparently most chickens stop laying while they are molting and they generally molt when the light levels get poorer. This seems a bit daft to me as their feathers fall out just as it's getting cold! (mind you, not having any teeth isn't a brialliant design feature either!). One of our chooks is still laying most days and although Molly doesn't seem to be molting, I think it is Leia who is still laying. Leia and Kiev are starting to look a bit scrawney as you can see!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"Going off lay"

Egg production has really dropped with the changing of the seasons, we are getting one every other day or so. We think this is Leia and the other two have given up. This might have been a matter of concern for us (given that this is our first winter with the chickens) but today, Jill Archer put my mind at rest by referring to the fact that her hens were "going off lay". I am now completely reassured, safe and sure in the knowledge that if it was on 'The Archers', it must be legit. The chooks are going to bed at 16.15 now! Have added some worming powder to their layer pellets as it has been a while.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Holiday care

We had a week away recently and the chickens were spoiled rotten by Lynn from over the road who treated them with tit bits and even cleaned them out during our absence! (definitely over and above the call of duty!). I think they are missing her visits (Thank you Lynn!).

Temperature drop

The temperature has dropped significantly here, with frost most mornings this week. The nights are drawing in and with the clock changes, the chickens have adjusted their self imposed bed time accordingly. Today they were all in bed by 16.50! Having problems with the auto door which does not seem to be working.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Molly to bed on time

Molly seems to have sorted out her body clock now and has been to bed in time for the auto-door closing every night for over a week (phew!).

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Renegade chicken

Molly has become a bit of a renegade chicken of late. As mentioned previously, the evenings are really drawing in now and the light sensitive auto-door is closed by about 7.15pm these days. In the time they have been with us, the chickens have amazed us at their ability to 'take themselves to bed' at dusk. The last two nights however, we have found the auto door shut and Molly running around outside, having obviously missed her chance to go to bed! It is fortunate that it is Molly as we can catch her and put her into the coop (this would not be possible with either of the other two!). Maybe she's having trouble adjusting to the changing seasons (I know how she feels!).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Winning the red mite battle

Have purchased some PoultryShield ( as the primary weapon in our battle against the evil Red Mite. Last weekend we sprayed the whole coop with the stuff and this weekend, the red mite colony was much smaller, I think we're winning. We sprayed the whole coop again and hopefully, this should only need doing every 6 weeks or so now.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Auto door fixed

The Auto door has now been fixed and has been fine for the past two weeks. It is a clear sign of the changing seasons that this evening I went into the back garden at 19.15 and the chickens had tucked themselves up in 'bed' and the light sensitive auto-door was closed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Toast pincher!

On returning from work, Alan always has a couple of peices of toast. These are invariably 'taxed' by Abi but on this occasion they were not. Al was sat on the floor eating his toast and Molly strolled in the patio doors, strutted up to Al and just helped her self to the peice of toast in Alan's hand! (he was not entirely amused by this!). The following evening Alan sat just inside the patio door (with door closed) and waved his toast to the chickens who had assembled just outside. In Alan's own words, this was not his proudest moment!

Monday, September 04, 2006


When we thought Molly was ill (it seems she had her eyes tightly shut for 5 hours because she had a massive double yolker trying to get out - her first egg) we started administering anti-biotics in the chickens' water. This meant throwing the eggs away which was quite tragic. We left it for a couple of weeks after stopping the anti-biotics and are now back to consuming the eggs. Hooray!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Chooks locked out!

On arriving home at about 7.30pm on Saturday evening we discovered that the knot had slipped again on the auto-door and the chickens were locked out and sitting in the run. The weather was foul, lashing with wind and rain. Leia was on the run perch and Molly and Kiev were huddled under the coop. We opened the door for them and expected them to go into the coops and out of the horrible weather. What we had failed to appreciate is that chickens are simple creatures who have a very strict timescale related to daylight. They had missed their opporutunity for going into the coop at dusk and were therefore going to sit tight until day break! Before we turned in we physically lifted Molly (she's the only one we can easily catch!) and put her into the coop, figuring that the other two would follow her in 2am I came down to see and Leia and Kiev had not moved an inch, Leia was clinging on to the run perch, being blown all over the place and getting soaking wet. Stubborn creatures! They didn't relent until day break, when they finally went into the coop.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Egg in the bath!

When we got home today I was baffled to find an egg in the chicken's dust bath (the large flower pot containing dirt that they have in their run). As I bent down to retrieve it I could hear a sort of whirring sound and to my horror, noticed that the cord/line for the auto door had snapped (later to discover that in fact the knot had come undone). This must have happened some time after the first chicken had laid her egg (probably Leia as she usually lays the first of the day) and the time the second chicken wanted to lay their egg. The second chicken must have been unable to get into the coop as the door was shut. I picture them hobbling around the run with their legs crossed until the forced indignity of laying an egg in the dust bath! Oh dear. Alan has had a go at fixing the auto door.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Don't tell Alan!

....well, she just popped in to see what was happening in the big brick coop........

Kiev on high

After 4 months, Kiev has finally managed to get up onto one of the high perches!

Maybe we will remove the low (for fat birds only) one now that she's figured it out.

Herby chicken

Molly is clearly back to her old self. She is regularly to be found in my herb garden. This is a raised bed about 3 foot off the ground level. She hops up there and helps herself to my sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano (she wasn't quick enough for the basil, the slugs got there before her!).

She was probably looking for my chilli plant!

Four month service

As we are currently binning eggs due to the fact that the chickens are on anti-biotics (by the way, I don't think there was anything wrong with Molly except that she had her very first egg stuck inside her which just happened to be an enormous double yolker - but thought we had better be on the safe side) thought we would also take the opportunity to treat chickens for lice. This involves a drop of liquid (medicine) on the back of their necks, once every week for three weeks. This is not a problem as far as Molly is concerned. Molly is a lovely chicken with a gentle nature, you can just pick her up and drop it on while giving her a cuddle. The other two however are a different case altogether, we've never managed to get hold of either of them. Alan and I spent about 15 minutes running around the garden trying to outwit the two chickens, they quickly headed for the tiny gap behind Abi's Wendy House and Molly joined them for good measure. Realising we were on a hiding to nothing (they are genius chickens you understand), Alan gallantly donned a thick winter coat and a pair of gloves while I enticed the chooks into their run with handfulls of corn. Alan then joined the chooks in their run and I closed the door behind him. Much squalking, flapping and swearing followed but Alan triumphed and we got Leia and Kiev treated too.......maybe next week will be a bit easier!

Spring (chicken) clean

This is a colony of Red Mite that was living underneath the perch. They were very well hidden there, had no idea they were all there!

Having found them, we removed the perches and supports and Alan replaced with a removable system of long bolts and wing nuts. We will now be able to check that the Red Army have not returned when we clean out the chooks.

We dispelled them with lots of water (containing Tea Tree Oil as disinfectant) and any that reamained, I ruthlessly tracked down and squished with the sharp end of a screwdriver!

Have been putting Red Mite powder in the chicken's dust baths, which may have offered them protection from these mites, however, will now ensure that they do not return!

Mite Mare!

When cleaning out the Hen Coop this weekend, we noticed a few tiny red blobs wondering around near the perch. I had heard of Red Mite and went on-line to find more information. All the information was consistent in that Red Mite can live in coops and come out at night to suck the chicken's blood! A particularly popular hiding place for Red Mite is on the ends of perches. Our coop doesn't have removable perches (well not in the traditional sense anyway, everything is removable in the end I suppose and so we proved). We used a hammer, a screw driver and a paint scraper and removed the perch and perch supports from the sides of the coop. The squirmish should now look away.....

Blood spot

Molly's first egg had a small 'blood spot' as can be seen. Have looked up 'blood spots' and found out the following:

"Blood spots are the result of broken capillaries in the reproductive system. When the capillary ruptures, a drop of blood leaks out and becomes part of the egg. The presence of a blood spot does not mean the egg is fertile or that an embryo is beginning to form. Egg processors attempt to identify and remove all eggs containing blood spots before eggs go into the carton." (For source click here).

Aparently blood spots are more common in older birds and the first eggs laid by younger chickens.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Molly's first a double yolker!

Molly's first egg turns out to be a double yolker!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Molly lays first egg!

Molly laid what we are pretty sure was her first egg today. It was a very good size for a first egg and a light brown colour (so the item that I read about chickens laying eggs the same colour as their ears was obviously not true - strange as it seemed like such a sensible theory!!).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Molly not too bad

The vet was very nice and checked Molly over thoroughly, she admitted she was not a chicken specialist and said Molly seemed a good weight and didn't have any discharge from nose etc. She thought Molly was of an age to start laying (judging by position of bones at rear end) . She prescribed some anti-biotics to be on the safe side, in liquid form which is added to drinking water. For us to administer this means either separating Molly from the other two for three weeks (this is really not pratical) or to treat them all at the same time. This seems sensible as if Molly has got a bug, the others might have caught it too. The down side of all this is that it means throwing all eggs away for the next month.

Two eyes open

Half an hour before we are due to leave for the vets and both of Molly's eyes are now open, she's hopped out of her box and gone back into the garden where she is drinking water enthusiastically.

I am reminded of when Abi was a small baby and went all floppy and hot, we were advised to take her to the hospital immediately which we did. We then waited in A&E for three hours before we were seen. By the time the doctor came Abi was running around like there had never been anything wrong with her and we looked like over-protective, worrying, time wasting first-time parents (which I suppose we were!).

Bird's eye view

One hour before we're due to leave for the vet and Molly's right eye has opened and she's eating corn like there's no tomorrow. Hopefully this means that there will be for Molly!

Molly going down hill

First thing this morning Molly seemed OK but by 11am she was not in a good way. Her eyes seem to be closed all the time. She's just standing around with her eyes shut. I have picked her up and brought her inside again so she gets a bit of peace and quiet. She's not eating though, just preening her feathers every now and then. Scary Chicken Health Book suggests anything from a cold to Cholera and imminent death. I have made an appointment at the vets (different Poultry vet, not rubbish pet vet) so will take her along this evening and hope for the best.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Molly 'off colour'

Molly does not seem her usual self today.

Normally, they all scurry about pecking up corn when we throw it on the grass. This evening however, Molly just didn't seem interested. She just lurked under the Lilac tree and seemed very lethargic.

We brought her inside and put her in a box with some corn and water and she ate quite a lot of corn and then went back outside, so hopefully she'll be OK. Maybe she's just fed up with the rain!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Has Molly laid her first egg?

Have been away this weekend and returned to find 5 eggs in the nest boxes. Now, for the life of me, I can't remember whether I removed 1 or 2 eggs on Friday before leaving. This is important because if I removed 2, then the fifth egg could well be Molly's, however, if I only removed 1, then the fifth egg could be Kiev's from Friday. I thought that Molly's eggs would be white (because her ears are white...........there is logic in this, honestly!) but none of the five eggs are white, so maybe it wasn't Molly's after all.......

Friday, August 18, 2006

Scrambled egg!

When I went to check inside the coop today, was horrified to find a splatted egg, all over the inside of the coop. The reason for my horror is that aparently, if an egg breaks and chickens taste the inside, they can get a real liking for it and then of course, they start to eat their own eggs on a regular basis. Checked for newly laid eggs very regularly today and removed them as soon as they had been layed before any further tasting could go on!

Two in a box

Have found Molly sharing a nest box with both Leia and Kiev recently, each time either of the big chickens goes into a nest box, Molly squeezes herself in with them. This is what Kiev did with Leia just before she started laying eggs and I wonder if Molly is due to start?....

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Safe and sound

Arrived home after two nights away to find the chickens perfectly happy (and three eggs in the nest box!). We let them out as soon as we got back and noticed that they immediately went off to have a long dust bath (must remember to put the large flower pot/dust bath in their run next time we go away). Otherwise, the brilliant auto-door has clearly done its job, well worth the money!

It's a double!

We were delighted to find that our giant egg was in fact a double yolker! The first double yolker that Alan, Abi and I have ever seen!

Alan had it in a sandwich with bacon while camping, the morning after it had been layed, yum!

Am pretty sure that it was Leia that produced this egg as later in the day I saw Kiev in a nesting box and found a more ordinary egg that she had layed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Monster Egg!

When I went to check the nest boxes this afternoon, imagine my surprise when I found the egg on the left!

This egg is much bigger than any other egg that our chickens have layed and covered my palm almost entirely!

This weekend we filled up their food and water bowls and left our chickens for two nights while we went camping (we took the giant egg with us!).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Chilli Chicken!

Those chickens are leading dangerous lives and are coming very close to being plucked, stuffed and eaten this weekend!

I have been growing a chilli plant in the back garden all Summer. It has flourished (which is quite unusual for things in our garden due to my lack of attention span!). I was rather proud of my chilli plant however, it was hanging with over a dozen chillies, some red, some green.

Last night, for some inexplicable and evidently unwise reason, I decided to take my beautiful chilli plant out from under its protective netting and keep it more prominently in the garden (senseless pride and vanity!).

Alan and I joked about the Chickens helping themselves but I was sure that they wouldn't as they show absolutely no interest in anything green (except for grapes and chives) that I offer them (prime spinach, broccoli etc. that all the books say they will love).

When it comes to freshly growing, still on the plant chilli leaves however, it seems that they have an insatiable appetite! Look at what's left! Four green chillies and NO leaves! Have found a few discarded green chillies around the garden but no sign of the red ones. God only knows what effect it will have on their poos!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Time's up Guinness!

Not sure what Kiev makes of it all though.

Looks like she wants her bath back!


Guinness (the cat) and the chickens seem to have reached a state of mutual respect and tolerance.

The chickens create small craters in the "flower beds" in the process of digging for grubs (and bulbs!) and creating dust baths. These craters are just the right size for Guinness to curl up in (as you can see).

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Now I come to compare the two photographs of Molly below I notice (for the first time) that her pink bits around her eyes and ears are much brighter in colour too. I think this is a good sign (but really I don't know what I'm talking about!).

Molly's beak fixed

....that either she's filed it herself (on the patio slabs?!) or the upper part of the beak has grown to match the lower part.

I did wonder whether it was just the way that beaks grow (given that she's younger than the others) but friends with chicken knowledge hadn't seen this beak feature before, so maybe not!

Anyway, one way or the other, the problem seems to have sorted itself out.

Molly's funny beak

When Molly first arrived with us, she had a rather funny beak. The bottom part of the beak protruded further than the top part. This was really quite noticable and most people who saw her commented on it (poor Molly!).

We were contemplating having a go at filing the bottom bit down in case it inhibited her ability to eat. However, the other day, I noticed.....

Kiev's improved headgear

Today she is looking a lot more healthy with a larger, brighter (more red coloured) comb showing none of the pock marks that used to be present.

The comb of a healthy chicken (acording to my Chicken Health Encyclopedia - don't laugh!) should be bright full and waxy. I think this better describes Kiev's comb now than when she arrived.

Maybe that's why she's not so grumpy and 'savage' anymore!

I think the comb becomes more red when a hen is laying eggs.

Kiev's Comb

When Kiev came to us, her comb (the pink/red wobbly bit on the top of her head) was looking a little the worse for wear, as you can see, it was pale pink in colour and had black and white pock marks all over it.


Have noticed some changes in the Chickens in the time they have been with us. I think the changes are for the best but can't claim credit for them as we don't really know what we're doing! The notable changes are in Molly and Kiev.

Tight knit

The chickens seem to have dispensed with the bickering and violence that helped them establish the pecking order and are now a tight knit team. It's not a very large garden but they definitely 'hang out' together, where you find one, you find them all (with the exception of laying time, when they go off and do their thing).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Auto door

So here it is, an automatic door raising/lowering system for the Hen Coop. We purchased this little gem on E-bay. It generally fits above the door but as we didn't have the space to fit it there, we had to come up with a diverting system as shown (quick trip to chandlers to ge the pulleys!).

This seems to work really well. It has a light sensor in it and the door opens some time in the morning (quite early I think, when it gets light) and closes at some time around 10pm. It is a really quiet and slow motion and the Chickens seem to be perfectly happy with it.

Hasten to add that this is not because we're too lazy to open and close it manually each day, we're thinking of weekends away!

Little Deuce Coop

This weekend Alan fitted the latest (and hopefully final!) modification to the Hen Coop.

As you can see, Leia was acting as Forhen on the project, making sure everything was carried out to the correct standards!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

BBC Radio 2 & chickens

I am informed by a very reliable source that chickens who listen to Radio 2 lay more eggs........I have searched on-line for verification of this fact but as yet have been unsuccessful. During the search though, I came across someone who claimed they had a chicken that had layed 7 eggs in one day!!! (those chickens must have been waking up with Sarah Green and going to bed long past Chris Evans - what's he doing on Radio 2 anyway?!). I thought they could only lay one egg a day (due to length of time it took to produce one) but a more credible website says they can lay 1-2 a day. Will have to look into this further.....

22nd century coop...

Our next coop modification will be a bit more sophisticated....

Modifications to coop

It has been very hot and sunny recently and aparently chickens don't cope too well with heat.

When we're out, the chickens are confined to the coop and run.

Have therefore installed a few metal hooks around the roof of the run so that we can put an old blind (found in shed) up on the appropraite side, (depending on location of run and sun) and save poor chooks from excessive sun/heat.

New perch for fat Oprington

I think I previously mentioned that we've never seen Kiev sit on a perch and wondered if it was because they were too high (as she is so fat she probably can't jump that high).

Have checked on chicken forums and aparently lots of Orpingtons don't perch, so not too bothered. However, thought we would offer Kiev a lower option (in fact it couldn't really get any lower!). Haven't seen her using it yet, but judging by the pile of poo underneath, somebody is!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cheeky Molly!

Came out of the study into the lounge tonight (Al was reading at the other end of the lounge) to find myself face to face (so to speak) with Molly who had obviously decided she wanted to check out what goes on inside the big brick hen coop. I shot a glance at Al who was still engrosed in book (phew!) and silently sort of herded Molly out of the back door, back into the garden. I thought Molly and I had got away with this but when I turned round, Al was peering round the corner with a big grin on his face!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Can now comment....

Have had quite a few comments from people who have tried to leave a comment on the blog but were put off by a long and tedious registering process. Using Blogger at work today, I have just found out that this is a setting that I can alter. I have therefore opened comments up to all and sundry, so please feel free to leave a comment (nothing rude please!).

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Words of wisdom #1 from Al

"How can such small chickens do such big poos?!"

Friday, July 07, 2006

Three's a crowd!

Do you think that is a look of embarrassment or disproval on Molly's face?

I should mention that it was raining a little bit outside, the chickens normally give each other a little privacy at laying time.

Maybe Kiev was asking Leia for a few tips?

Up close and personal

As mentioned previously, the chickens have a nest box each. When we found two eggs in one nest box I had (perhaps stupidly!) assumed that one chicken had layed an egg and later, another chicken had come and layed an egg in the same nest box. However, having seen Kiev and Leia sharing a nest box at laying time today, I now wonder!

Actually, only one egg was layed in this box, the other egg was in the other end nest box.

Am starting to feel like poultry paparazzi, hangining around outside coop door and siezing perfect opportunity for 'two in a nest box romp' photographs! Perhaps I should seek help!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Two eggs!

Guess what? Today there were two eggs in the nest box!

Apparently it takes 25 hours for a chicken to lay an egg, so one chicken can not lay 2 eggs in the same day.

We are pretty sure that it is Kiev who layed this one as Molly is still a bit young (we think).

This egg (lower one in picture) looked different to any we have had previously in that it is slightly speckled.

Interesting to note that even though they have enough for a nest box each (they are very spoilt chickens as the suggested ratio is one nest box for 3 chickens!), they chose to lay their eggs in the same nest box.

Can't help wondering if Kiev knew what she was about to do or just felt 'a bit strange'......

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Guinness explores

When we clean the coop out at the weekend, the whole family likes to get involved!

I don't think the chickens saw him in there!


Friends Julie & Steve came to visit chickens this evening and brought a prezzie for Abi.

I'll bet you didn't know that you could get egg mashers (especially ones that look like this)! Isn't it fab?!

Just Leia laying

No, we're pretty sure that Leia is the only one laying eggs. Have noticed that Kiev never sits on the perch, posted this fact on to chicken forum and it seems that most Orpingtons don't sit on perches (they're probably too fat to get on them or too lazy to be bothered!).

Friday, June 30, 2006

Is there something going on?

On further investigation, we are beginning to wonder if all is as first appears in relation to egg laying. Today's egg was noticably smaller and of a different shape (less pointed) than previous eggs.

Beginning to wonder if perhaps Kiev has layed her first egg and Leia didn't lay one today?....... or maybe Leia has just layed a smaller, 'blunter' egg today?......could do with a chicken monitor to keep eye on chickens between 9am and 12noon to see exactly who is up to what!

First worming complete

When it comes to worming, only 1 teaspoon of Flubenvet (worming powder) is required for 5kg of food, therefore we mixed 5kg with worming powder last Thursday. The chickens have therefore been eating pellets coated in worming powder (we added a little olive oil so the powder would stick to the pellets) for a week now. They have been most obliging and consumed almost exactly 5kg of pellets between them during the course of the week. So that's them wormed (we hope!).

All settling down

Chickens seem to be settled in nicely. Kiev and Molley are not laying yet but Leia has provided 15 eggs for us to date! Molly seems to be showing a bit of interest in Guinness (the cat), today I saw her actively pursuing him across the garden! Leia was taking grapes out of Abi's hand today (Abi is very brave, I don't put my fingers anywhere near Leia's beak!).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Normal service resumed

Phew, normal egg laying service from Leia has resumed. It seemed she was just having a day off (which you can't blame her for!).

Had friend round to visit today and it seems chickens are particularly interested in painted nails (pink) particularly toe nails which are conveniently located for them!

We have been trying food types out as 'treats' for hens. It seems they like:
  • grapes
  • tomatoes
  • melon seeds
  • bread
  • slugs (but not ones that have inadvertently been drying out in the airing cupboard for a week - don't ask!)
  • pork and leek sausage (this was a post BBQ mistake, chickens shouldn't have meat, but they really liked it!)

Contrary to popular advice our hens don't seem to like:

  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • little gems

Friday, June 23, 2006

Egg count to date

To date we have had 8 eggs in total, all (we are pretty sure) from Leia. So she's done 8 days on the trot and then had a day off (or maybe she's given up laying for good!). We will see what happens tomorrow.

No egg!!!!!

I think we must have upset Leia. We didn't get an egg today! Alan thinks the fact that we keep nicking her eggs might be irritating her a bit......fair point!

Started Worming

Collected Flubenvet (wormer) from vets today and have started to worm chickens. It is a powder that you add to their food. This needs to be repeated at least twice a year, will probably do it 4 times a year to be safe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Very serious business!

As you can see, Abi was taking the 'spring clean' very seriously!

Spring clean

We gave the coop a thorough clean out and replaced all the newspaper (lining the floor), dust-free wood shavings and dust-free straw. Aparently the nest boxes should be lined with shavings, but so far, Leia seems to empty all the shavings before she lays an egg. If you are outside the coop at about 10am (laying time) you can hear the 'clunk' as Leia's egg hits the floor of the nest box.

Time to move...

We've had the chickens for just over a week now and decided to move the coop and run. The roof comes off the unit, and there are lifting bars on each end, so this wasn't too much trouble for Alan and I to move (mind you, Alan was on the heavy end!). The grass that the coop/run has been on for a week was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, after taking this photo, we gave it a good raking and it was fine.


Our first home reared eggs for breakfast.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

For goodness sake!

Had a moment of clairty this evening and gave myself a thorough talking to. Realised that chucking out 4 fantasticly fresh eggs (we've had one a day since the first one) because I've seen the poo from one of the chickens and it looks a bit runny, is more than a little irrational considering we have always eaten eggs from chickens with bowel movements we know nothing about! So Father's Day breakfast for 5 comprised full English breakfast complete with our own fresh eggs and they were great! Seeing everyone elses eggs (we fried them), Abi decided she wanted one too. Leia was very obliging with this and laid one at about 10 am (just after Abi decided she wanted one!), Abi brought it, still warm, into the kitchen and we fried it immediately. It must have been all of 15 minutes from chicken to tummy.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Grandpa discovers the egg layer

Grandpa was keeping an eye on the hens this morning and solved the mystery of who has been laying the eggs. It turns out the Leia has been living up to her name! I had thought that Kiev was laying the eggs as they are quite small (aparently Orpingtons lay quite small eggs and Rhode Island Reds relatively large ones). However I have since learnt from a former chicken owner that the initial eggs that any hen lays are quite small, they will get bigger.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Many types of poo....

A fantastic lady called Vicky on one of the Chicken Forums (yes there is such a thing!) I'm a member of has very kindly mentioned the following pages on the Omlet (Eglu) website:

this is quite reassuring as it shows a range of disgusting looking poos, all of which are nothing to worry about aparently! I'm going to try and relax about the poo thing......

Trip to vet

Concerned by Molly's retching, I took her to the local vet today. This was a complete waste of time, he didn't know anything about chickens (there's no reason he should really based where he is). He did say she seemed quite thin though, which has set me off worrying again. Ordered some worming stuff from vet which should be available tomorrow.

Had our second egg but am feeling quite down about the whole thing as we can't eat the eggs when there seems to be a health problem with one of the chickens. However, we don't know anything about chickens (but learning fast!) so there may be nothing wrong with them, so how will we ever know when it's safe to eat the eggs?

Alan is being brilliant (as usual) and says they'll settle down and we'll enjoy the eggs all in good time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Retching chicken...

This evening Molly was doing a bit of silent retching. Have no idea what this means but we have put her back in isolation.

Final picture of the our first egg

Egg with scale!

As you can see, the egg is quite small!


Much to our surprise, this evening we found our first Egg in the nest box!

It is rather small (photo with scale to follow) and we haven't a clue who laid it but we are chuffed to bits!

Guinness and the chickens...

People who know us have been asking what Guinness (our 5 year old male cat) makes of the chickens. He seems to be taking them in his stride. He was interested in them as the roamed around the garden this evening but they weren't keen to let him too close. This picture sums it all up really!

Molly seems OK..

Molly seems to be OK, we let her back in the run with the other two today (as the cat box is rather small).

She's still doing the odd runny poo but as you can see from the 'action shot' she enjoyed several dust baths this evening.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Took themselves to bed

By 7.30pm Leia and Kiev had taken themselves off to bed, assuming their regular positions (Leia on the internal perch and Kiev on the floor beneath the ventilation window). Molly was on the external perch and I carried her into her 'cat box' for the night.

Eating from my hand

By the end of the day Leia and Kiev both ate corn from my hand. I wore a very thick rubber gardening glove!

Out of run

The chickens have been with us for five days, so we were able to let them out of their run today. We did this early evening and they seemed to enjoy pecking and scratching around the garden.

Molly happily ate out of Abi's hand (always does) and Alan and I tried with Leia and Kiev. Eventually Leia approached Alan and gave him a sharp peck on the thumb.....three times! This was quite amusing.

Alan suggested that I should try. She gave me a REALLY sharp peck on the thumb! This was not at all amusing. Savage Chicken!

Still runny poo

Sorry for another gross poo photo but as you can see, Molly's poo is still not right, very runny.

Although we let her roam the garden this evening with the others, we have put her back in the cat box in the shed for tonight.

Fingers crossed.

Molly in isolation

We're not sure what's wrong with Molly, so she is currently in isolation. She is in a cat travel basket (sorry Guinness!) with her own food, water and grit etc.

She doesn't seem too bad, she's eating well.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Molly's dodgy pooh cont'd

These pics are not for the faint hearted but I'm hoping that somebody who knows something about chickens might be able to advise.

I have read about chicken diarrhea and have offered a bowl of ground up charcoal for the chickens to eat. Have also read about coccidiosis and sincerely hope it is not this. I don't know whether I'm just paranoid having read about coccidiosis but Molly does seem a bit leghargic, she sits down a lot (and just now was listing to starboard while lying down). Mind you, it's very hot out.

Molly under the weather

In the 4 days that we have had the chickens I have learnt a lot about chicken poo. They do a lot of it! It seems that Molly's poo is not quite right. It is very brown and runny, there is no white in it. Leia and Kiev seem to be doing 'standard' chicken poos (green/brown, quite dry with a bit of white in).

Sunday, June 11, 2006

New perch for chooks

Alan and Abi were busy making minor improvements to the coop & run today. They have put roofing felt on the nest boxes and put two new perches into the run.

Leia and Molly have both been using the new perches already and I'm sure they'll appreciate the roof felt in the winter!

Kiev's dust bath