This is my blog about the day to day lives of my little flock of pet chickens. They're a happy little flock, although they're totally crackers! If you want a laugh, they'll gladly give you one.


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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Feed me Seymore!

In the last blog I mentioned that our local pheasant asked nicely for his breakfast.  Well this morning he showed the other side of his character.

There was no sign of him when I went to wake up the chickens this morning.  I had put their various food dishes down, opened the pophole and watched while some came out voluntarily and others were hustled out by Fizz.   As usual, Pom-Pom and the broody Tu-Tu took no notice of him whatsoever and stayed put.

I opened the nest box lid to find the recalcitrant duo sitting there looking stubborn.  I picked Pom-Pom out and plopped her in front of her favourite food dish, then went back to collect Tu-Tu.  I had just deposited her on the ground by my feet when a series of loud, raucous squawks assaulted my ears.  It was the pheasant, marching up and down the garden wall, yelling at me to get myself out of the chicken run and sort his breakfast out.   NOW!!!!!!!!!

Well I know my place.   I grabbed a handful of layers pellets, which I know he enjoys, and flew (not literally) out to put them on the wall for him.  He didn't even say "thankyou", just got his head down and started wrapping his beak round his breakfast.

When I went back into the run, Tu-Tu was sitting exactly where I'd left her.   The bloody-minded little madam was going to be broody, come hell or high water.  If that meant staying put outside, then so be it!   But she relented when I put her in front of a dish of her favourite mash; she quickly got stuck in before anyone else tried to pinch it from her.

With everyone sorted, I trundled back to the house for a well-deserved cuppa.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Breakfast is served

So there I was in the outhouse, busy preparing breakfast for the Mucky Cluckers.  As usual, the door was wide open to let the nice, fresh morning air flush yesterday's old air out.

Hearing a soft "woohooooooo", I glanced up to see our local pheasant standing a few yards away.  He's a lovely lad, even though he did lose his tail a few months ago.  But it's growing back nicely and is about halfway to being its full length now.

If he's around when I'm sorting the chicken food out, he usually comes over for his share of breakfast.  The usual routine is that he waits near the door while I take a handful of mixed corn and put it on the ground a few yards away..  He then munches, while my cat sits at the door watching the pheasant and trying to work out whether he's too big to tackle.  Zac has been trying to work that out for the last couple of years.

This morning was a bit different though.  This time, instead of stopping near the door the pheasant decided to come right in!   That might have been a bit more than Zac would tolerate, so I quickly grabbed some corn and gently ushered him back outside.  I fed Mr Pheasant in his usual spot, Zac watched him and everything returned to normal.

Picture by David Croad

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Pom-Pom's punch-up

 I don't know what Prissy said to upset Pom-Pom, but it really annoyed our little Poland.  She was so irritated, she head-butted Prissy three times!   Being walloped by a headful of feathers isn't exactly the most excruciatingly painful thing that can happen to you, but Prissy was mildly surprised that it had happened at all.   Then peace returned and the pair of them carried on mowing the lawn. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Is he or isn't he?

A friend asked me recently if Fizz was behaving liked a gentleman with the new girls.   Personally, I wouldn't use the words "Fizz" and "gentleman" in the same sentence.  Oh hang on, I just did!

Those of you who've been reading my blog for a while will know that the answer came complete with hysterical laughter from me.   If he was anything like a gentleman, he would not have jumped up on my lap, done the biggest, sloppiest poo on my trousers, then jump off again as if nothing untoward had happened.

To be fair, he does call the girls over when he finds something nice for them to eat.  You would have thought that, by now, they would have learned that he sometimes has the strangest idea of what they might enjoy munching.   On the menu yesterday was my brand new, bright red watering can!   Having rushed over to see what he'd found, the girls then stalked off in a collective huff.

As far as the newbies are concerned, Fizz can't quite make his mind up.  He's bonked Nonami once and is trying to work out how to have his way with Prissy when she's so much taller than him.  Scrat keeps a low profile in the hope that he'll mistake Nonami for her.  But he's just as likely to take a truculent run at them, when all they want is a corner of the dustbath.

He's a right little oddball, but you just can't help loving the lad.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Have hen; will travel

Chickens can be so naughty.  They get into all sorts of places that they really shouldn't be;  I've seen pictures of them in kitchens, lounges - one even made herself comfortable in the bathroom sink!  But a couple of my Facebook friends have had their hens go on shopping trips!  Here are their stories.

A Welsh friend's hen went off to the local co-op in the back of a workman's car.  He was operating a digger at her home, and come lunchtime he drove off in his car to the shop to get something to eat.  He had made the mistake of leaving all the windows of his car open when it was parked at her home - a clear invitation to passing chickens to check inside.   When he came out of the shop, he turned to put his lunch on the back seat and there was a hen!  She had laid an egg and was sitting tight enjoying the outing.

A New Zealand friend's hen hitched an even longer ride.   Her husband drove 20 km to the shop to pick up the pig veg.   Before he leaves on any trip, he always checks the back of the truck because there are invariably chickens in the crate that's kept there. He shooshes them out and then if any hop back on they usually hop out again pdq and go on their way.   Not this time though.

When he arrived at the veggie shop there was a "bok bok" coming from the crate!   There, tucked up in the corner of it, was a very pretty hen.  He put her under his arm, went into the shop to ask if he could have a box and popped her in that for the return journey.

She'd been down windy back roads and then along the motorway at 90 km an hour, huddled down in the crate.   What an adventure!   Not that she appreciated it;  when he got home and opened up the box, she hopped out, shouted at him and went and had something to eat!   That hen has no idea how lucky she is!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Do as you're told

I have a battle on my hands.   Nonami has only been laying eggs for 5 weeks and the little madam has decided to go broody!  Well she's thinking hard about it anyway.

At first we thought she was simply taking ages to lay her egg, as she spent forever in the nest box.  But on reflection, we realised that she didn't do that for the first 4 weeks, this was something new.  Then two things happened on Sunday. 

We went to check how she was doing, after she had been sitting for half an hour.   She gave a quiet growl when we opened the nest box lid and looked most displeased when No. 1 Son felt underneath her to see if she had laid yet.   Not only had she produced an egg herself, she had snaffled those laid by Tu-Tu and Punk and was pancaked across the three of them!   Worse was to come.  We hoiked her out of the nest box, and discovered that she had begun to pull her chest feathers out.  Fortunately there were only a dozen or so in her little den, but her intention was crystal clear.

There was nothing for it;  I had to have a mother to chicken chat with her.   I explained the drawbacks of being a very young mother in graphic detail.  All that responsibility, no more time to yourself, all that sort of stuff.  Then came the clincher.  I looked her in the eye and told her very firmly that I would decide if I needed more chickens, not some pint-sized Silver Sussex!

Seems to have worked, as she hasn't set foot in the nest box today.   Or has she gone on strike?

Prissy and Scrat waiting patiently for Nonami to get her egg laid

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Introducing the new additions

The very first two hens who came to live with us were Queen B and Tu-Tu.  We got them from the Home Farm of a lovely early 16th century mansion near Leeds, so we returned there when we wanted some more bantams.  We were not disappointed.  We came home with a white Croad Langshan and two Silver Sussex girls.

Initially we thought the Langshan would be the trio's leader.  When we put the three of them in the carrier, she had ooched the two Sussex hens along until they were crammed up against the back wall, and she had the luxury of plenty of room left over for herself.  But that's been the only time she's shown any leadership qualities.   The oldest of the new lot is one of the Silver Sussex ladies (on the right of the picture), who was born in November 2013 - the other two were December chicks. Where she goes, they quickly follow.  

We kept them apart from the others for nearly three weeks.  They could all see each other, but were separated by fencing, both in the run and when they were out in the garden.  It was during garden time that the older Sussex really showed her mettle.  The full story of this period will appear in my regular column of June's "Practical Poultry" magazine; just suffice it to say she took on all-comers.

Once we let both groups mingle, the biggest problem was Fizz.  Wouldn't you think he'd be delighted to welcome more ladies to his harem?  But no!   He saw them as aliens from another planet and kept right on attacking them.  The water squirter worked overtime, I can tell you.

Things have sort of settled down now, but they all stay in two quite separate groups.  The two younger newbies even gather beneath the coop to wait for the oldest Sussex while she lays her egg (she laid her first one at the farm, only an hour or so before we collected her).

The new girls have quite distinct personalities.  The Langshan was obviously a model in a previous life, judging by the amount of time she spends preening and making sure she looks good at all times.  When she's not preening, she's eating.  Perhaps she's making up for all the times she had to diet during her modelling career.  She's a very docile hen, but stunningly beautiful.

The oldest Sussex has proved herself to be a feisty madam, but she has also quickly accepted our need to cuddle her.   The younger one, however, has not.   This morning she took one look at me, decided she wasn't taking any chances that I might want cuddles and, from a standing start, flew 20ft (6 metres) into the field behind the garden!   When a sheep started to wander across to take a closer look at her, she ran up and down wondering how to get back where she belonged.  Luckily No. 1 Son was on hand to jump into the field and rescue her.

I think we're in for a lot of fun with our new feathery friends.