Sunday, April 26, 2009

Clowning around

The chickens have had a rather exciting time over the last few weekends, as you can see!.......yes, that is a unicycle.

Scrambled eggs

Given that we'd been buying eggs recently, we were a bit miffed to find that our new chooks had obviously been laying eggs for about two weeks. We'd been checking the nest boxes regularly and all that time hadn't noticed they'd chosen alternative places to lay their eggs! It was particularly galling that we had to ditch all 27 eggs as we didn't know how long they'd been there!

Eggs galore!

Having found Goldie's stash of eggs, we went to see what was underneath Pecky.............sure enough, she'd obviously been laying for a while too! Though you can't see them all in this picture, Pecky had 15 eggs!

Goldie's Rosemary Bush #2

When we managed to extract Goldie from her Rosemary bush, we were absolutely flabbergasted to find that she had been sitting on 12 eggs!

Goldie's Rosemary Bush

When we finally found Goldie in the Rosemary busy we could see that she had made a nest for herself in there and was sitting on an egg. Actually, we could see a number of eggs.


So, the new chooks, as previously mentioned, escape the harsh treatment being dished out by the 'old girls' (only two of them now) but jumping over the fence of Stalag Chicken Run and free-ranging around the garden. The morning we found Leia dead in the coop, one of the new chooks was sitting at a rather strange angle in an odd corner of the garden, the other had gone missing. One look at the chicken in the corner and we could see that she was sitting on an egg. This was very exciting as this would be her first egg. We were quite concerned at the aparent absense of the second chicken (Goldie) and looked high and low (and next door, both sides). While peering over the fence into next door's garden, we could hear her 'singing'. It's a lovely noise she makes (reminds me of that Gizmo thing in the Gremlins movie, if anyone is old enough to remember and admit to it!). We were extremely relieved to find Goldie completely hidden right in the middle of a large, old Rosemary bush in a raised bed. You couldn't see her at all from the outside, goodness knows how she got in there.

Coup in the coop?

No, we didn't put Leia in the pot. Apart from the fact she's been a pet for the last three years and had a name, we have no idea why she dropped dead, which is another disincentive to eat her. We're still none the wiser (and presumably never will be) concerning why she died. I can't help thinking that the shock of the new arrivals might have been all too much for her. Alan suspects fowl play.

Leia off the perch

For the first time ever, the other evening I noticed that Leia was sleeping in a nest box, rather than on the perch. We've never seen her do this before. We were all out the next day so are not sure whether she was out and about or not but by the next morning she was still in the nest box and stone dead. This was quite a shock as she'd shown no signs of being ill. We're very sorry to see her go.

Creatures of habit

Ever since the day they arrived, with the exception of a few nights, Molly, Kiev and Leia have been creatures of habit. They go to 'bed' in the same order and sleep in the same place. As can be seen in the Hen Cam picture below. Leia has always slept on the perch, Molly in the end nest box and Kiev, by the large swing-open door (like a bouncer). The Hen Cam has enabled us to watch Leia sleeping while perching on a thin perch, about 40cm above the floor. She seems to mutter and snort but somehow manages not to fall off, which seems amazing. The new girls, having summoned the courage to go into the coop at night, are chased around the coop and pecked savagely by the old girls who squawk indignantly at the injustice of having to share their coop (suitable for 6-8 chickens!) with the two new arrivals. The other evening I peaked in when closing the run and was surprised to see one of the new chooks up on the perch with Leia. Ahhh, I thought, they've buried the hatchet and decided to get along. As I was closing the door I saw Leia strike out viciously at the new chicken and realised that perhaps they had a little while to go yet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hen cam action!


We have installed a miniature wildlife camera inside the hen coop, so that we can watch the shenanigans of the chooks 'behind closed doors' (or rather door). As dusk approaches and the hens head inside for the night, the family gathers around the television to watch the intrigue and fascination of life inside the coop...........

I know, we really should get out more!

Foul fowls

Original hens continue to torment the newbies, chasing, pecking and squawking indignantly at them constantly. The newbies however, have a trick up there sleeve, there's something they can do that the 'old girls' can't (apart from lay eggs)......

They can escape Stalag Chicken Run!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hen Wars

Our original brood (the 'old girls') were not entirely happy to see the two new youngsters. It was quite fascinating to watch the social wrangling as the 'old girls' made it clear that they were in charge and of the three of them, Kiev was the boss. Leia, swiftly became 2nd in charge and behaved like Kiev's henchman (henchhen?), paving the way for sumo-Kiev by attacking the new girls (who soon learned to adopt the submissive crouching pose when anyone else, chicken or person, came near). Felt really bad for the new girls but remembering how awful the three of them were to each other when they first arrived, knew that things would eventually settle down.