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).