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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Monday, 19 December 2011

Pond life

Beyond the dry stone wall that marks the end of my garden there's a big field.   I posted a picture of it a few months ago.

In Spring it's full of sheep with their cute, bouncy little lambs.  But not in Winter.   In Winter, it's full of water.  Well not absolutely full, if I'm honest.   There's usually a couple of rather large ponds, joined by a thinnish streak of water.   From the larger of the two ponds, a stream-like body of water snakes away, only to disappear just before it can tumble over the drive which leads to the farm. 

Usually these ponds attract a dozen or more Mallards and their wives.  I miss the sheep, but look forward to seeing the ducks every year.   But it was rather different this time.   When the first pond was still in its infancy, five ducks arrived.  Three of them were normal, adult duck size, but two of them looked quite a lot smaller.  In fact, had it been Summer, I'd have said they were this year's hatchlings.  The idiots decided to spend the night on what, in reality, was no more than a very large puddle.   When I went to open the chickens, the ducks had disappeared.   I can only hope that it wasn't down some fox's throat!

But I digress.

The small puddle grew rapidly and before long, there were the two familiar ponds.  But no ducks.   This year, for the first time, there were loads and loads of terns!  There's usually four of five of them who fly along the river, two fields away.   You frequently see flashes of white through the trees as they zip up and down like demented Scalectrix racing cars.  Sometimes they come and sit on the uppermost branches of the dead oak, just to take a breather I suppose.   But never in any great numbers.

At least this huge mob were quiet and well-behaved.   That's quite a blessing, because 30 or 40 of them could make quite a racket if they all decided to start chatting at once.  But no, they just bob around, taking in the view.

This morning, the ponds were frozen solid.   One solitary tern sat in the oak, all on his ownsome, looking very folorn.  Maybe he thought that if he wished hard enough, the ice would melt and he could float around in solitary splendour.   In the end, he gave up and flew off to join his mates.

The weather forecast for the coming week is for mild weather for the time of year.  If the Met Office has managed to get it right for once, the pond will return to its former watery glory.   It will be interesting to see who gets there first - the ducks or the terns.

This is going to be my last post for this year.   So  the chickens and I wish you a very happy Christmas, and may the New Year be all you want it to be.   With very best wishes from Fizz, Pom-Pom, Mad Irene, Titian, Tu-Tu, Maggie, Rebecca, Punk and me.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Share and share alike

It finally dawned on Irene that she had the two Araucanas all to herself every night.   She noticed that Titian had disappeared from beside her on the perch, but didn't really connect it to having both Rebecca and Punk nestled into her feathers.

It took her several nights before the answer to her double trouble problem finally seeped through to her little chicken brain.   Titian had moved into a nestbox - she would do the same!  Problem solved.

The only trouble was, both nestboxes were occupied already.   Titian, as we know, had made herself comfortable in one of them, after turfing Tu-Tu out.   The other was Maggie's domain - and Maggie is Clucker-in-Chief, Top Of The Heap, The Head Honcho.

Did that worry our lovely Light Sussex?   Don't be daft, we didn't call her Mad Irene without very good reason.

She simply tried to move in with Maggie!   Now Light Sussexes are not small chickens and they come under the category of "Heavy" birds.  Blue Orpingtons aren't small either. even if they are of the bantam variety.  So you can see the problem, can't you.  Small nest, two large birds, who will move? 

Well as it turned out, neither of them did.   Maggie was absolutely determined to stay put, partly because she's Top Chicken and partly because she was comfortable where she was, thankyouverymuch.   Mad Irene thought it was jolly decent of Maggie to stay and share with her.  It meant that instead of having chickens snuggling into her feathers, she could snuggle into Maggie's.  And Maggie has an over-abundance of feathers to snuggle into.

So there you are, Irene finally got a decent night's sleep.   But it will be interesting to see if Maggie allows her to have another one.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The smoking shelter

Having waffled on about the smoking shelter we built for the ungrateful chickens in our care, it's about time I posted a picture or two.

Part finished - Maggie inspecting the work so far



When the corner posts were in place and the roof had been fixed on, Maggie very kindly went in to check that my son had done the job properly.   As you can see from the picture above, she takes her responsibilities seriously.   She inspected that particular post very closely indeed.  She was aware that darkness was closing in fast, most of the others had gone to bed and she would be following them soon. When no comments were forthcoming, we took it that everything was in order and carried on. 

The finished shelter


The next morning we put Maggie's favourite blue water dish in the shelter, opened the coop and stood back to watch the flock's reaction.

Did they get up that morning, do a double-take and nudge each other saying, "Wow, will you look at that!"   No.  Nothing.   Not one of those pesky fowls so much as glanced in the direction of their beautiful new refuge from inclement weather!   Despite her inspection the previous evening, Maggie headed for where her blue dish used to be.   When it wasn't there, rather than walk a couple of feet to the green drinker she slurped up some muddy water from a depression in the ground that must have been all of 1" deep.

For a few days they all made a point of avoiding their splendid new shelter until Punk accidentally found her way in, as recorded in an earlier post.

Do you remember the Hansel and Gretel story, where a trail of breadcrumbs is laid.  Their idea was that they'd be able to follow the trail and find their way safely back out of the forest.   I pinched the idea and adapted it.   I laid a trail of mixed corn that led into the forest - er, I mean smoking shelter.

If I could have got to a bookies in time, I'd have laid money on Mad Irene spotting the trail first and eating her way in.  I would have won, too.   She didn't look up until she reached the nice pile of corn and an apple at the end of the trail.   Even then, she only glanced round briefly before attacking the apple with gusto.

And then there were two - because where Irene goes, Rebecca follows.  Titian was close behind and soon almost the entire flock was clustered round the door, mostly unable to get in because Titian was blocking the way.   Maggie wasn't among the "in" crowd.   She looked disdainfully across at them as if to say, "Been there, done that."

So now when it's rainy and windy and horrible, our lovely little flock has an alternative venue which offers them good protection.   But they still all cram themselves into the spare small coop!!!!!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Night and day

Titian finally got fed up with having an Araucana stuffed into her feathers every night and decided to do something about it.   So she hoiked Tu-Tu out of the nestbox and took up residence herself.   It would appear that she simply stepped in and plopped down immediately, without bothering to turn round.   As a result, she had her beak to the back of the nestbox and the flock had a fine view of her bum.

So poor old Irene is back to being a hot water bottle for both Araucanas.   Rebecca, who started the whole idea of snuggling into Irene in the first place, took her usual position.

Rebecca will soon make herself comfortable by getting in among Irene's feathers


By the time Rebecca has herself sorted out, all that's visible are her legs and some of her tail.   Then Punk moved in from the front and made herself nice and snug too.   It's beyond me how Irene manages to get any sleep at all!

Fizz was obviously somewhat concerned about the view Titian presented to the world, as he spent the night balanced on the edge of her nestbox.   Dangerous position, given that Titian is Poo Queen. 

All these goings on at bedtime obviously annoyed Maggie and disturbed her beauty sleep.   When she appeared yesterday morning, she stopped halfway down the ramp, glared at my son, held her wings half out and then "harrumphed" at him.  Really it was halfway between an "harrumph" and a growl, but I have no idea how to represent the sound in words!  

Titian appeared next and went over to have a deep, meaningful conversation with my son's trouser leg.

Then Irene barged down, spotted a few pellets that had escaped from the feeder and pounced on them with a delighted purr.  She probably felt she deserved a treat after the night she'd had.

Everyone else made their way out except Pom-Pom, who was relaxing in her boudoir as usual.   But this morning Fizz was having none of that "Lady Muck" nonsense.   So he went back into the coop and made her get up.  

So today we learned a new expression from Maggie - but I strongly suspect it was fowl language.   (I'm really, really sorry - just couldn't resist making that pun).

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Thank goodness for snow!

Pom-Pom has finally come to her senses and has given up roosting on the cage gate - much to Fizz's relief.   When it started snowing on her, she decided that enough was enough.   It was warmer and dryer inside the coop with the others, so she put herself to bed there, with the rest of the mob.

To be fair, Punk seems to have forgotten why she kept chasing Pom-Pom and making her life a misery.   And Pom-Pom's memory of being frightened of the Araucana has faded too.   It must have done, because I looked into the run a few days ago and they were sitting side-by-side on the log.   As a result, Pom-Pom has lost her fear of retiring to the bedchamber with everyone else.  It appears she's no longer afraid that Punk will attack her the minute she sets foot inside.

I suspect that the whole thing started because Punk decided to moult so late.   The lead-up to it probably caused her some discomfort and she became crochety.  It's no good getting nasty with chickens who are above you in the pecking order and the only ones below her were Pom-Pom and Rebecca.   She was hardly going to take her bad moods out on her sister.   So that just left the snooty Poland.   Having said all that, we are talking about the bantam who didn't hesitate to attack a 6' 2" tall human male last summer, just because she couldn't get her own way.

If we had a normal cockerel, I'm sure things wouldn't have been allowed to get as far as they did.   I recently read a chicken-keeper's eye-witness account about two hens who squabbled over who should use a particular nest box.   One turfed the other out and occupied it herself.   The hen who lost out, took herself off and complained to the flock's cockerel.   He then went inside the coop and chatted to the hen in the nestbox.   Then he came out and chatted to the aggrieved party.   After that, everyone seemed happy.  

I seriously doubt if Fizz even noticed anything was amiss in our flock!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Order, order ..........

Time and again I've read that chickens don't like change; apparently it upsets them.   Well nobody told my lot that!   In fact they're the ones that make the changes, especially at bedtime.

We have two perches and two nest boxes in the coop.   Our birds ring the changes regularly as to who sleeps next to whom and where.   It's the one time that seniority doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference to them.  Having said that, since Maggie has risen to the rank of CEO (Chicken Everyone Obeys), she has taken to sleeping on her own in one of the nest boxes.  However, even she swaps from one to the other fairly often.   From time to time in the past, Tu-Tu has slept in the nest boxes, but of late she regularly occupies whichever one has been left vacant by Maggie.  

The rest of them use the perches, but they tend to crowd onto the same one - usually in an orderly line from one side to the other.  The Araucanas are the exceptions.  They stand on the floor behind Irene and Titian, then stuff themselves deep into the big girls' feathers.   They bury themselves so deep that sometimes all you can see of them are their legs and tails.   I've never quite worked out why they don't end up covered in poo, but they don't.

Last night, things had changed somewhat.   Titian and Irene had decided to take up residence very close together and jammed up against the wall, right at the very end of the perch.  One faced forward, the other faced back.   That didn't deter Punk and Rebecca.  Punk squeezed in between the perch and the back wall, then snuggled into Titian.   Rebecca took her usual position under Irene.

Fizz had decided to sleep on the roof of the coop.  From there he can not only guard his girls who have gone to bed inside, but can also watch over Pom-Pom, who still insists on roosting on the cage gate.  As usual, I lifted Fizz down and put him inside.   He had a huge expanse of perch to choose from - remember four of the girls were scrunched up in a corner and the other two were in nest boxes.   So what did he do?   He rushed over into the far corner and made a very determined effort to squeeze onto the perch between the wall and Titian!  He pushed and shoved and wriggled, but could make no headway against the combined weight of Titian and Irene.   They are big girls and either one of them is more than twice the size of Fizz.  In any case, it's difficult to move when you have another chicken nestled in among your feathers.

In the end he gave up and perched at the other end, where there was plenty of room.   When I'd finished laughing, I fetched Pom-Pom and put her inside, placing her on the empty perch nearest the door.   She, very sensibly, quickly settled down exactly where I'd put her.   She'll still be there in the morning.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dialogues and monologues

When we first got our little flock, Titian was the most vocal by a very long way.   She spent most of her time chattering away to you, irrespective of whether you were actually listening to her or not.   Actually, if she thought your attention was drifting away from her, she'd grab your trousers and give them a pull.  Or if she thought you couldn't quite hear her, she'd stand on something to bring her beak more up to the level of your ears - then shout.

Titian
Maggie

Recently, she's quietened down a bit.   However, her place in the conversational ranking has been taken up by Maggie.   To be fair, most of her exchanges consist of giving you advice.   If you want to know anything about anything, ask Maggie.  She seems to know all the answers and is happy to share that knowledge.   She generally starts nattering long before she can see you.   In addition to being a good conversationalist, she also has excellent hearing.   That means that the moment you set foot out of the back door (quite some way from the run), she starts shouting encouragement.   Even if you're not actually on your way to the coop, but off to do some gardening, she still keeps bellowing at you.  Just to let you know she's there if you need any horticultural advice.

Rebecca has developed a chatty habit too, over the past few months.   Whenever I go into the run, she makes her way over, stands in front of me, looks me in the eye and quietly "chirrups" to me.   I've no idea what she's on about.   She's not asking for food or special treatment and she hates being picked up.  She's bottom of the pecking order, so perhaps she just wants a bit of attention from someone who, in flock terms, is on her level.   She doesn't go and chat to my son, so obviously he's higher up the social order than me.  Her sister Punk, although she's quite belligerent at times, has very little to say for herself.

Irene

Irene chunters away, but I always have the impression that she's simply talking to herself.  Well that's who she's most interested in, isn't it.  Tu-Tu quietly chats to you, it's more of a whirr really, but hasn't much to say to the rest of the flock.   I think she spends some of her time reminiscing about when she was second in command.

Pom-Pom quite often gets the mutters.   But she's another one who isn't sharing her thoughts with the world at large - principally because she can't see the world at large due to her huge hairdo.   No, she wanders round muttering to herself - all the time.   I strongly suspect that what she has to say is of the "price of fish" variety, rather than any deep, meaningful reflections.

Fizz

And then we have Fizz.   I've mentioned in past posts how many different sounds he makes.   There's his "CROW!!!!!!" warning, which can equally well be applied to doves, bluetits or aeroplanes.   But he really witters on when he decides to sleep on the roof of the coop and we decide he's not going to.   He carries on and on from the time he's lifted up until he's finally settled on a perch in the coop.   It's at times like that that I'm glad I'm not fluent in chicken-speak.   I'd probably be terribly shocked by his invective!

Friday, 25 November 2011

How did I get here?

Have you ever been in a situation where you are so lost in your thoughts that your mind and body quite happily function to get you where you're going safely - but with no conscious directive from you?  Basically, you're on automatic pilot.   Suddenly, you wake up, look around and wonder how on earth you got where you are.  You certainly can't remember the journey.   Well that's exactly what happened to Punk this morning.

In an earlier post I mentioned that we'd built a smoking shelter for the chickens.  It would be an extra refuge for them during inclement weather; an alternative to one of the two covered coop cages.  But so far each and every one of those ungrateful pieces of poultry have shunned it.   Not one of them has deigned to put so much as half a beak across the threshold.

When I went to open up this morning, it was obvious that Punk had something on her mind.  Unusually for her, she exited the coop reasonably gracefully.  Her normal practice, once she's finally decided to get up, is to elbow the others out of her way so that she can rush into  into the run to see what she's been missing.   Today, it was more of a saunter.  I could almost (but not quite) hear her asking, "I say old girl, could I just squeeze past you please?"

I was busying myself poo-picking, so wasn't really watching what was going on around me.   When I'd finished that lovely job, I had a look round to see who was doing what and where.   It was then that I spotted Punk in the smoking shelter.   And she had that "How did I get here?" look on her face.

Fizz looking down at a rather subdued Punk

I put it all down to the fact that she's left it until now to moult.  She's eating and drinking well, her poo is as it should be, so she's not ill.  No, I think it's simply that she's suddenly realised she looks pretty silly at the moment.  She has feathers sticking out at odd angles and her tail has disappeared.   She doesn't like it, not one bit.   Remember, this is a bantam who thinks she's a full-size Brahma - she's taken my son on in a bout of fisticuffs before now.   So I think she was in deep thought about how she could make the best of a bad situation.   And that's why she ended up in the smoking shelter!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

D'ya wanna make something of it?

For the past week, most days have started out and ended up with heavy mists.  In between, we've been treated to overcast skies.   Sun?  What sun?   And with the amount of wintry daylight diminishing rapidly, all in all it's been a bit miserable of late.

Which may explain some of the tetchy behaviour I've been seeing in the chicken run.  

If you'd asked me which was the least likely chicken to get irritable, I'd have said Irene.   She may be dilly, she may poke her beak into everything, but fractious?  No.   Well actually "yes", as it turns out.  Twice now I've seen her take a run at Fizz.   It was more like the kind of feint a boxer might do, a sort of "Gerrrrofff" kind of thing.  And he ran away!   Well I suppose if you saw a huge bundle of white feathers bearing down on you, you would too.  Irene is huge compared to Fizz.

Whatever the cause, it must have been catching, because moments later Titian did the same thing to Tu-Tu.  The little Pekin looked absolutely astounded!   But she erred on the side of caution and quickly backed away.  We had a repeat performance 5 minutes later.   The size difference between Titian and Tu-Tu is even more marked and the behaviour less understandable.   Then I remembered that when the Poland bantams first arrived, Titian made Pom-Pom's life a misery.   However, Titian has been remarkably quiet all summer.   Having said that, since she's moulted and re-feathered, she has been much livelier.  I now have my fingers crossed that she doesn't return to her old bullying ways.

As I've said in earlier posts, Punk has been a right bitch for a while.  Now, just to show us that she's well hard, she has just (just mind you) decided to moult.  She looks a wreck!   And she's not happy about that at all, so she glares at me when I go into the run - apparently it's all my fault.

And now, just to round things off, everyone has stopped laying.   My big bear of a neighbour came round to get half-a-dozen eggs and went away with one tiny bantam egg cupped in his huge hand.  It was all I had to give him.

Oh well ..... it'll soon be Spring.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A change isn't always as good as a rest

I'd have thought that a chicken's personality would stay pretty much the same all its life.  That was before I started keeping chickens.  Now I've learned that, just as with human beings, changes in circumstances can bring changes in chickens' personalities too.

Tu-Tu is a prime example.  When she first arrived she was second in command to our beautiful late-lamented Sebright, Queen B.   Rather like a Company Sergeant-Major Tu-Tu didn't walk, she swaggered round the run.  Queen B gave the order, Tu-Tu carried it out.  With relish, it often seemed to me.   She was a high-ranking member of the flock - she knew it and she made quite sure the others did too.

She quickly got us organised as well, showing no fear of us from very early on.  However, she drew the line at allowing us to pick her up.

Then she insisted on going broody, sat on Araucana eggs and reared the chicks. When she returned to the run, the swagger had disappeared.  Remembering her previous form, the others were not nice to her at all.  Sometimes Queen B stepped in to protect her, or offer a quiet few words of encouragement.  But she seemed to realise her Lieutenant was shell-shocked and that she'd have to do her own dirty work.

Tu-Tu was very nervous at this point in time.   She had lost a lot of condition and a lot of weight, as well as losing her authority.  As soon as one of us went into the run, she would come over and now she begged to be picked up.  She quite rightly felt much safer in our arms.

However, she's a trooper is our little Pekin and, to paraphrase the old song, she "picked herself up, brushed herself down, and started all over again".

She can't be second in command again because Maggie can cope very well by herself thankyou-very-much.  However, Tu-Tu is no longer bottom of the heap.   I have a feeling she's quite happy sitting in the middle of the pecking order.   She's no longer frightened of shadows (or any of the other chickens).  She now has an air of tranquillity about her, a sort of matronly calmness.   She has regained her air of authority, but there's no belligerance now.   Even when she chases the Araucanas, she simply takes a short run at them - just to remind them of their inferiority.  There's no longer any pecking going on.

So a complete personality make-over.   I didn't see that coming.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Goose town

Just by way of a change, instead of blogging about my chickens, I'm blogging about a flock of  geese.  In fact these very geese plus a few more:-


They're a wild bunch who live in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire.   And when I say "in", I do mean in.   Instead of swimming up and down the local rivers and canal, they like nothing better than to spend their time causing traffic chaos in the town.   Especially at rush hour!

They potter off along the main road, totally ignoring the traffic, to whichever bit of Sowerby Bridge they feel like enjoying today.   When they get bored with that bit, off they hike somewhere else - usually at the opposite end of town to where they've just been.

And they have absolutely no respect for traffic rules.   They wander down the middle of the road, often spread out from one side to the other, instead of in an orderly queue.   They ignore red lights, mount the pavement and even sit down for a rest on double yellow lines (I've seen a picture to prove it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilt/5919653270/ ).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the place, it's a small town (population about 10,000) with a long history.   It's been a crossing point on the Calder and Ryburn rivers at least since the Middle Ages.  So I can't help wondering if perhaps they are descendants of geese who lived here all those centuries ago.   It would explain why they think they own the place!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

More moulting news

Wow, Titian is amazing!  The tufts at the end of her quills have blossomed into proper feathers and are growing fast.  She has a little way to go before she reaches her former glory, as her bum is still only covered in short quills.  But she's well on the way and OK as long as she doesn't sit down.

Irene doesn't seem to have noticed her feather loss - she now has no tail.   Mind you, Irene only notices what other chickens are eating that she's missing out on, so no surprise there.

Now that her moult is over and done with, Tu-Tu has become remarkably calm (providing she can't see the Araucanas).  She's happy to be picked up again and looks quite tranquil while she's several feet up in the air, comfortably lodging on someone's hand.

Pom-Pom is looking a little happier too.   I can't helping thinking that she's cottoned on to the fact that although her moult has finished and she's re-feathered, she's still not having to lay those damned eggs.  She's hopeful that this state of affairs will continue right throughout the winter.  Or forever .... ???

Our sole supplier of eggs at the moment is Maggie.   She's kindly been ringing the changes with the patterns on her alternate-day offerings (just to keep us amused I suspect).  The dots come in different sizes and in white, brown or purple.  What a thoughtful chicken.

We're down to one Robin in the garden now; I think it's the youngest of the three.  He sings very quietly.  I'm not sure if he's simply not found his full voice yet, or if he has a permanent sore throat.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Sheltered housing

For some time now, we've been debating how best to provide some extra shelter for the chickens during the winter.   At the moment, if the weather is too breezy for their liking, they go into the cages beneath one of the two chicken coops in the run.   The smaller coop is no longer used as sleeping quarters, but the cage door is always open, so that it may be used by any of the chickens who want to wander in.  However, if it rains they all huddle together in the bigger cage.  

During last winter's snow, we found Pom-Pom standing chest-deep in snow, wondering how she got there and how she could get out.  She was still thinking about it when we found her.   After that little incident, we didn't allow them out of the cage when the snow was thick on the ground.  Part of the problem was that if we cleared the snow away from the area around the coop, one bright spark would always venture beyond the cleared area and into the deep snow.

The run is far too big for us to cover completely, and much too wide where the coop is situated.  We've toyed with all sorts of ideas to extend the cage for them, trying to find one that wouldn't cost us a fortune and would be simple to construct.   We eventually decided to put up a "smoking shelter" opposite the coop and just a dozen chicken steps away from the cage door.   If it snows, we can clear a path for them to reach the shelter.  We can also block off the rest of the run so nobody can go off-piste.

By the time we'd been able to get to the DIY store to buy what we needed, it was mid-afternoon.  Then my son got to work making the supports and a frame for the corrugated plastic roof .   As a result, it was almost dark by the time we got into the run to put it in place.   I had the vital task of holding the torch so my son could fix the screws into the wood, rather than into his fingers.  But the job got finished.

During the construction work Fizz had been slumbering on the roof of the coop.  But he got a severe case of the mutters after a while and marched down and into the coop chuntering "This noise is intolerable!".  The only real problem we had was that we had to manage without Maggie's valuable advice.  She gave up and went to bed with the rest of the mob.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

This and that

This blog is just a series of little updates.

The formerly near-naked Titian now has a good covering of quite superb 1" long quills.   I noticed yesterday that little auburn tufts have appeared on the ends of a lot of them.  We think her personal philosophy is "Get rid of 'em quick, grow 'em back quick".  I also suspect that her daily dose of yoghurt has helped considerably.  She was suspicious of it initially, but is now the first to get her beak into it the moment I put the dish down.   In fact she runs over, just to make sure she is.   It's nice to see, because it's been quite some time since the lady deigned to run anywhere, for any reason.

Irene had a mini-moult about a month ago.  She lost a couple of feathers under her chin, and that was it.   She now finds that she has time to fit in another go.  The crown of her head, her cheeks and her neck are now almost featherless.  She has also lost a couple of her black flight feathers.  I can see from the coop floor and in the run that she's still losing lots of white feathers - but trying to work out quite where she's lost them from is another story.  She's managing to conceal her losses very well.

Punk still refuses to acknowledge that she's never ever going to get further up the pecking order than she is now.   The problem is that her foster-mother stands between Punk and further promotion.   Tu-Tu is now only half their size, but she still chases both Araucanas if either of them so much as enter her peripheral vision.  And they run!  She has always blamed them for her spectacular plummet from second in command, to the bottom of the pecking order.  And all because she was tucked away out of sight of everyone, looking after them.  At least now she's above Rebecca, Punk and Pom-Pom - and she ain't giving her place up for anyone, not even relatives.

Fizz does not like to be disturbed once he's fallen asleep.  This evening my son removed Pom-Pom from the cage door as usual, and popped her into the coop.  Despite there being plenty of room on the perch beside Fizz (he being the only occupant), our little cockerel woke up.  And he was cross about that.   So he pecked Pom-Pom's head and then my son's hand.  Neither peck was exactly gentle either.   Very odd behaviour when you consider what an easy-going chap he is for the rest of the day.

I haven't mentioned Maggie for a while.   Her feathers are back to their former glory - in fact Rebecca wondered why she's never noticed them before.  So she has transferred her nocturnal attentions from Irene and now buries her head in Maggie's ample feathers.  As Maggie has such a vast quantity of them, I'd be surprised if she's even noticed.

Maggie is the only one of our chickens producing eggs at the moment; she lays on alternate days, regular as clockwork.  What a star.   Everyone else has given it up as a bad job, but I'll be curious to see if the Araucanas start laying in early January, like they did this year.

Monday, 31 October 2011

They grow up so fast!

Our little boy is growing up - well, to some degree anyway.

Now that Fizz has gone through his first moult, his feathers have grown back even more abundantly than before.  He also seems to have put on weight, so his little body is bulkier than it was.  But it's more than that.   He seems to have an authority about him that simply didn't exist earlier in the year. 

For instance when I let the chickens out the other morning, Punk and Pom-Pom had a lie in.  Nothing unusual there, they usually do.   But Fizz checked out the girls in the run, realised he was two short, and went back inside the coop.  First he chased Punk out, then he went back and unceremoniously made Pom-Pom get up too.   Neither of them were terribly impressed, but they did as they were told.  

Last week Fizz finally realised that Pom-Pom has taken to sleeping on the cage door at dusk (we have to physically put her inside the coop every single night).   That put him in a quandary.  He has a responsibility for all his chickens, but he can't be everywhere at once.   So he has taken to sleeping on the roof of the coop occasionally, because he can keep an eye on Pom-Pom from there.   Mostly, though, he sleeps inside.

In fact sometimes he leads the way in!  One day last week it rained nearly all the time.   The flock spent a miserable day sheltering in the cage area, keeping nice and dry - but bored to tears.   When I sloshed down in the late afternoon, I couldn't see Fizz anywhere, which was a bit worrying.   Finally, I checked inside the coop and there he was, fast asleep.   Well I suppose all that responsibility must be very tiring!

A different view of the world!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

What a day!!!

It's been an odd day so far - and it's only 8.30 in the morning!

It began when I sat idly gazing out of the window, cup of tea in hand, wondering why things didn't feel quite right.  I realised with a start that something was, indeed, very wrong.  I hadn't let the chickens out!

I quickly grabbed Titian's pot of yoghurt from the fridge, filled the dishes with pellets and made my way down to the run.  There I spilt some of the pellets while unlocking the gate.

When I tipped the yoghurt into the dish, it transpired that there wasn't that much to be tipped.  (The protein in plain whole yoghurt helps moulting chickens with new feather growth).  Realising that she'd better get in first, since there wasn't much yoghurt to be had, Maggie rushed over.   But did she eat from the nearest edge, like a lady?  Did she heck!  She leaned across to eat from the far side, covering her vast expanse of chest feathers in yoghurt.

When Titian finally made an appearance, she'd lost even more feathers.  One of the pictures in the last post shows her lower rear end still covered with lots of fluffy feathers.   Not any more.   Now she has just three.   Still, at least the bud-like feathers elsewhere on her body are making a determined effort to grow as fast as they can.   The amount of yoghurt Maggie carted away on her chest would have helped that process.

When I opened the coop to poo-pick, I took my own advice and picked Pom-Pom first.  But the minute I put her down on the ground, Fizz decided to have his way with her.  Well he hadn't managed to catch anyone else you see.   She wasn't ready for that sort of thing, screamed and ran - still screaming.  She's so highly strung at the moment that I had no option but to scoop her up and save her from being raped and pillaged.  Her poor little heart was beating like crazy!   That meant poo-picking with one hand.

Eventually I had to put her down and go, but she thought it meant we could both leave.   For a small bantam, Pom-Pom can move when she wants to, and was out of the gate before I had time to close it.   Luckily she stopped to congratulate herself as soon as she was clear of the run, so she was easy to catch and return from whence she came.

I have to give a talk tonight.   I have my fingers crossed that my evening will go considerably smoother than my morning has so far!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Oven-ready chicken - almost

I waffled on in an earlier post about Tu-Tu losing so many feathers overnight.   So Titian decided to show me what an extensive moult really looks like, and what she could achieve in just two days.

This is just the start!

Just look at that thigh!

Titian wonders if this is her best bit


Tu-Tu is mightily impressed

The other thing that has amazed me is how quickly new feathers are appearing and how fast they are growing.   On Saturday feathers flew in all directions as she walked;  there was a brown blizzard when she had a good shake!  Her bare patches were smooth. 

By Sunday morning, there were tiny bumps in her skin, which had broken through by the afternoon to become dark little spikes - still really small.  When I let her out this morning, there had been definite growth overnight.

So in two days I've gone from wondering whether I should attempt to knit her a woolly jumper, to realising she'll be well covered by the time winter sets in.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The eyes have it

It was only when Fizz and I were eyeball to eyeball earlier today that I realised just how different each of our chickens' peepers are.

Fizz gazes at you with eyes that instantly remind you of Stan Laurel, one half of the comedy duo Laurel & Hardy.

My son and I disagree on a lot of things, but we are in perfect accord where Maggie's eyes are concerned.  They are, without doubt, the most compelling of all eight pairs.   Deep, dark, beautiful.

Maggie


Almost the exact opposite of Irene's, whose eyes never stay still long enough to get a good look at them.  She certainly doesn't look at you!  She needs to check constantly which of her companions has got something she hasn't.  No matter what it is, her need will be greater than theirs.

Irene

I've tried hard to think of the kindest way to describe Titian's eyes.   But to be absolutely honest, she looks half asleep most of the time.   In fact she is half asleep most of the time.  There's simply no hurrying her, so by the time she gets to the action - it's moved somewhere else.

Titian


Tu-Tu's eyes are sharp, intelligent.   She's got you sussed before you're even aware that you're being sussed!

Tu-Tu


Her foster-daughters, Punk and Rebecca, couldn't be more different.   When you pick Punk up, her pale brown peepers suddenly become much calmer than when she was at ground level.  Pick Rebecca up and her eyes flash in annoyance as she struggles to free herself.   I find that odd, because on the ground, Rebecca's the calmer bantam, while Punk is the sparky one. 

If you manage to lift Pom-Pom's crest high enough, for long enough to see them, you'll find a pair of dark brown eyes that make you realise she's smarter than you ever suspected.  You make sure she gets her share of the treats, don't you.  You protect her when she needs it, don't you. You carry her so she needn't bother walking, don't you.   Of course you do!  It's part of her plan.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Jumpers for chickens

The following was first posted back in May, but with so many of our chickens moulting and with Winter almost upon us, it probably bears repeating.  These jumpers would be excellent for ex-batts too.

Take a look at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8537773.stm which is a video of a group of knitters in Somerset who knit jumpers for bald rescue chickens.  It shows chickens modelling them too. 

Knowing my knitting capabilities, my daughter suggested I shouldn't bother unless there was a gigantic 3 legged hen who needed a jersey!  How well she knows my knitting capabilities.  But I do admire these ladies and their caring approach. 

There are chicken jumper patterns to be found on the web if you'd like to help your local hen rescue organisation.   Here are some of them.

If you're good with a crochet hook (needed to finish off), there's a pattern at http://bit.ly/n3CfGB .   There's another (no crocheting) at http://bit.ly/pflHqk.

If you're better with a needle and cotton, go to http://bit.ly/n3CfGB

Friday, 14 October 2011

Monsters in the chicken coop!

It seems I'm harbouring a load of prehistoric monsters down in the hen run.

According to research by palaeontologists in America, chickens are the closest living relative to Tyrannosaurus Rex. We've been trying to work out how much sage and onion stuffing you'd need for a T. Rex.


Baby picture of Fizz .......... or is it a dinosaur???

To read the full background to the theories, go to The New Scientist at:
http://bit.ly/pqj7I2

and there's an update in The Guardian at:
http://bit.ly/n4fMnD

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Eggsactly which is which

Having such a small flock, it's easy enough to know which egg was laid by which chicken.

The Araucanas both lay blue-green eggs and smugly think I can't tell who laid which one.  They seem blissfully unaware that for starters Punk's eggs are larger than her sister's, while Rebecca's are rounder.  Sometimes Punk likes to add a little decoration to the top quarter of the shell in the form of a muddy brown "hat" with a wavy line round the edge.   Very artistic.    Even when their eggs are sitting in the frying pan, we still know which is which.   Punk's yolks are larger, Rebecca's are a much deeper orange.

On the subject of decoration, Maggie's pale brown offerings come complete with assorted polka dots; well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration.  But they do have dots of varying sizes, shapes and colours, and the patterns vary with each egg.

Tu-Tu's eggs are uniformly pale cream and don't usually vary in colour or shape.   But they have the strongest taste of all and by far the toughest shell to crack open.

As mentioned in my very first post, Pom-Pom detests the whole process of egg laying and is hugely relieved that she doesn't have to do it now that she's moulting.   Although her eggs are always bright white, what shape they will be is anybody's guess!  She's produced them in every possible contour, from small and round to long, thin and pointy.

Titian lays the most beautiful, deep brown eggs.   Her artistic contribution is to always add a bit of purple here and there.  It often takes the form of delicate brush strokes, but sometimes there are little dots or splodges.  Whatever the pattern, you can be sure it's in the best of taste.

Irene's eggs are always a lighter brown than Titian's, but the actual shade can vary from one day to the next.  When I say "one day to the next", sometimes she'll lay two days on the trot, then she forgets (she's easily distracted).

And finally we come to Fizz.  Yes, yes, I  know he's a cockerel and you know he's a cockerel.   But from time to time he is to be found sitting in a nest box, a look of concentration on his little face.   He's learned so much in other ways from the girls that I have to assume he's trying to copy their egg laying skills too!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A friend in need .........

A couple of posts back, I mentioned that Tu-Tu had moulted so many feathers that she's half-naked now (the hussy).

We've been a bit concerned because the nights are getting quite cold.   We're aware that chickens en masse - well only a small masse in our case - generate a lot of heat between them.   Even so, we were worried that she might not be warm enough, as she tends to sleep in solitary splendour in one of the nest boxes.

But we hadn't counted on her new best friend.   We were very late closing the coop last night, as we'd been out for the evening.   We opened up as usual to count them and reassure ourselves that they were all present and correct.   The light from the torch played across the nestbox and there, as usual, was Tu-Tu.   And there beside her was Maggie.   Maggie could easily accommodate all the bantams in among her abundant feathers, but she chose to get in with Tu-Tu and keep her nice and toastie warm.

Aaaah, isn't that sweet.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Poor little Pom-Pom

Poor little Pom-Pom isn't a happy bantam at the moment.

It all started quite a few weeks ago when Punk started getting really grumpy and short-tempered.  Of all our chickens, she was the most laid back and placid.   But not any more.  I put it down to the fact that she is moulting but still laying eggs, which would put quite a strain on any chicken.

There aren't many of our little flock that she can have a go at.   Titian and Irene are far too big; Tu-Tu is her foster-mother and she chases Punk, not vice-versa thankyou very much.  She had a go at Maggie once, and learned the hard way that that wasn't one of her best ideas.   Fizz may be as daft as a brush, but he's a cockerel nonetheless, so he's safe.   That leaves Rebecca and Pom-Pom.

Punk has given her sister the occasional mild peck, but it's Pom-Pom who is on the receiving end of her most vicious bad-tempered attacks.   As a result, our little Poland bantam tries to keep well out of Punk's way.   She has even taken to roosting on the coop's little gate, rather than risk attack by going to bed inside.   So every night when we go to lock up, she has to be gently woken up and deposited into a nest box to sleep.  

Fortunately, she seems safe from attack inside the coop in the mornings.   Punk has always been among the first to race out when the pop-hole is opened, so I imagine her mind is concentrated on gearing up for rush-hour.

I'm really hoping that all this blows over once Punk is fully clothed in feathers again - and before winter sets in. 

Monday, 10 October 2011

A frightening experience

When I was out shopping I spotted some sweetcorn cobs complete with leaves - not the sanitised kind which have been stripped, chopped in half and covered in plastic. These were the real McCoy.  As well as buying a couple for us to enjoy, I decided to get one for the chickens too.   I knew they'd love it because they absolutely adore hoovering up our left-over sweetcorn kernels.

I stripped all the leaves off the chickens' cob and put it on the paving stones leading to their run.   It's where I always put their little treats such as lettuce, chopped apple, yoghurt - stuff like that.

There was the usual mad dash to escape from the run and into the garden the moment I opened the gate.   Then they caught sight of the cob and, as one, they all turned and legged it back inside the run!   Furthermore, they refused to come back out until I removed the offending item.

I gave in and sat on the bench while my son began stripping the corn off the cob with his fingers.   Even then they were extremely suspicious when he put the kernels down for them to eat.   Eventually, Maggie pecked it to make sure it was dead before she did a taste-testing on behalf of the rest of the flock. 

The corn all got eaten, but it took a while.   Oddly enough, once the empty cob was laid back on the paving stones, they all happily munched away at the little bits and pieces that were left on it.

I don't think I'll ever understand the chicken mentality.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Well knock me down with a feather!

Tu-Tu is not a chicken who does things by halves.



When she was second in command to the late Queen B, she carried out her duties with far more gusto than we suspect was really necessary.   

When her foster chicks were still only little blue eggs, we had the greatest difficulty in getting her to stop sitting on them long enough to eat, drink and poo.   She would only leave them if we physically lifted her out of the nest.   Even then, she often declined lunch and shot straight back to the nest box.

Once they'd hatched, put a hand near a chick to stroke it and she would discourage you with a peck.  This from a bantam who'd previously enjoyed being cuddled.

More than a year has passed and although one of those dear little chicks went to a new home, two are still with us.  They're grown up now and have become Punk and Rebecca.   Tu-Tu thinks they should have left home by now too.  Although they're all grown up and bigger than she is, every day she takes a run at them if they get too close to her.  We presume she's encouraging them to push off and find another flock.

Yesterday evening I opened the nest box, only to find it was filled with so many Tu-Tu feathers that any eggs in there would have been completely hidden from view!

At first, I thought there had been one hell of a scrap in the coop.   Then it dawned on me that Tu-Tu was the only chicken in the flock who hadn't moulted.   So instead of discarding a few feathers at a time, like the others had, she'd decided to shed the lot in one fell swoop.   I took a good look at her and, sure enough, she was considerably slimmer than she had been.   And with each step she took, another feather floated gracefully off her.

Being a Pekin, she's a fluff-ball to start with and can afford to lose a pillowful of feathers and still retain enough to keep warm in these chilly Autumn nights.    But as I pointed out earlier, she doesn't do things by halves.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Garden delights

Sitting in the garden with the chickens should be a relaxing, pleasurable pursuit.   But it can also be a hazardous occupation!   During the course of watching them yesterday evening I was:

  • Dive bombed by 3 collared doves.  Of course it may just have been the same one having oodles of fun at my expense. 
  • Dive bombed by a kamikaze wasp.  He won;  I moved to the other end of the bench.
  • Shouted at by a robin for moving to the other end of the bench and being too close to the wild bird food.
  • Attacked by every midge for miles around. 

 The final insult was when poo from a passing bird flying overhead landed with a splat on my shoe!   Still, I suppose it could have been worse .......

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Mucking out

I can think of better ways to start my day than leaning into a chicken coop and removing last night's collection of poo!   But it has to be done.  This morning, Pom-Pom decided to make things even more awkward for me.

She's invariably the last to get up in the morning, but usually moves when I open the coop's side door.  Not today though;  today she stayed put on her perch.   As she was sitting right in front of the door, this made things a bit tricky.   For one thing, my view was restricted.    Was there poo on the floor beyond her which I couldn't see or was that area clear?  Reaching round her to collect what I could see wasn't easy either.

Pom-Pom


It was only when I was back in the kitchen, enjoying a well deserved cup of tea, that the solution presented itself to me.   Just pick the damned chicken up, put her outside - then pick the poo!

Well I'm not at my best first thing in the morning!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Yummy!!!

Most of the flock are moulting, some more than others.   I wondered if the moult might account for Maggie and Punk being so bad tempered.   After all, growing new feathers takes a lot out of them.   On top of that, both Punk and Rebecca are continuing to lay eggs, when normally this function would stop.

We've been putting apple cider vinegar in their water, to give them a bit of a boost.   However, I decided to give them some organic live plain yoghurt so they'd all be getting extra protein. 

They've not had it before, so I wasn't sure whether they'd eat it or not.   I needn't have bothered worrying.   They decided I had produced the nectar of the gods for them, and absolutely loved it.  

Most of them ate it the same way they would eat seeds, but not Rebecca.   She licked lots of it into her beak, then raised her head and let it slide down her throat with a look of sheer ecstacy on her face.   Good, good, good. Hopefully  she'll soon start getting a covering of feathers on her face so that she stops resembling a mini-vulture.

Friday, 23 September 2011

'Tis but a scratch

Do not stand behind Irene when she's scratching, whether it's in the hen run or the garden.   She has the most powerful scratch technique in the flock.   She's been known to send small rocks flying a considerable distance away, so wood chips and pebbles present no problem whatsoever.   And as for soil - hah!  Australia, here she comes.

Maggie is considerably smaller and lighter (under that huge volume of feathers lurks a rather small bantam).  However, her scratching skill is also a force to be reckoned with.   When she and Irene team up, they've been known to excavate deep craters in the hen run.  You certainly wouldn't want to fall into one without having a handy ladder secreted about your person.

The Araucanas have watched and learned.   Out of the two of them, Punk has watched and learned most.  She puts her heart and soul into her scratching routine;  her whole body is thrown from side to side as she tries to emulate her mentor, Irene.  Rebecca does her best, but her real talent lies in swooping in and pinching a worm that others have energetically exposed.

Tu-Tu's not bad either.   She also puts a lot of energy into her efforts and is remarkably proficient considering she's the smallest bird in the flock.

Tu-Tu and Maggie - gram for gram, the two best scratchers

Then we come to the rest of them.  Titian is even bigger and bulkier than Irene, but watching her scratch is great if you're feeling a bit down and need a laugh.   For a start, she doesn't like getting her feet dirty, so she only ever scratches when she's on the lawn.  And then it's the most delicate, lady-like scratch you've ever seen.   I could do better with my wellies on!

Pom-Pom is willing to give it a go if necessary, she just doesn't often feel it's necessary.  And as for Fizz - well if Titian doesn't manage to make you laugh, Fizz certainly will.   For ages he had no idea how to scratch and, like so many other things, has learnt how to do it from the girls.   So rather than a good, strong, manly scratch, his efforts are more ..... erm  .............. feminine.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Block it off

Irene striking a pose for the camera

Irene isn't the world's deepest thinker, in fact as thoughts go hers are exceptionally shallow.   Mostly they revolve around wanting what other chickens have got - and getting it for herself.   We're mostly talking treats here.

Yesterday she was convinced that there were treats to be had in the form of wild bird food which had fallen from the feeders.   But she was also convinced that the wild birds had hidden it away, so that she shouldn't have it.

But she's a very determined gal is our Irene.   After giving it a nano-second's thought, she realised that they would have put it all under the dozen or so small blocks of wood which were lined up on the concrete ledge beneath the fence.   Obvious place really, should have thought of it myself.

The ledge is too narrow for her to climb onto (she's a big girl), so she couldn't use her powerful back-kick to move the offending blocks.   But that didn't stop her.   She'd hoik a block off with her beak, kick it out of the way and eat whatever she found underneath.   She worked her way all along the line of blocks until each and every one lay scattered all over the paved area leading to the hen run.

Job done, she wandered off to see if any of the others had something tasty for her to pinch.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Chatty chickens

Most of the chickens have something to say at one time or another, but Titian is the most talkative by a very long way.   But she likes to have someone to talk to - and mostly that someone is me.

If Titian were human, I suspect she would be the neighbourhood gossip.   The sort who leans on the front gate and says to random passers-by, "Far be it from me to spread rumours, but have you heard ....... ".   As it is, she has to content herself with telling me what her companions have been getting up to in the chicken run.

To be fair though, we have solved quite a few world problems between us.   At least, I think we have.   It's hard to be certain because if I'm honest, I can't understand a word she says.

That may be why my thoughts drift off in a different direction sometimes, and Titian doesn't have my full and undivided attention.   But there's no fooling that hen.   She quickly picks up on my lapse in concentration and pulls at my trouser leg to bring me back to the subject under discussion.

Rebecca and Titian

Seeing all this conversation taking place seems to have affected Rebecca The Vulture.   Of late, she too has taken to chatting to me.   She doesn't join in with Titian, but tries to catch me when nobody else is nearby.   She looks me in the eye and chunters quietly to me - she's not loud and clear like Titian.

She's an Araucana and they originally came from the Chile/Peru border many generations ago.   Which makes me wonder whether she's really talking to me or whether, in fact, she's quietly singing "Guantanamera, Guajira Guantanamera".  Could be it's in her genes.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Changing fashions

Most of the chickens are moulting, although Tu-Tu has decided to give it a miss ..... so far.  

Fizz has opted to moult at both ends of his body so as well as losing his tail, his scrawny neck is clearly visible.   Pom-Pom has also lost tail and neck feathers, as well as a bit in the middle - just to keep it even.  

Maggie went for the reverse Mohican look by having a bald patch along her spine, but an abundance of fluff on either side.   Maybe that was what decided Rebecca to take the opportunity to completely overhaul her "look" and try something really different.   She went for what I can only describe as The Vulture.

Is Rebecca searching for carrion?

Maybe she really likes her new image and has decided to keep it, because there's no sign of re-growth at the moment!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Sheepish

Once I've opened the coop up in the morning and chatted to the chickens, I usually wander over to the garden wall and take a few moments to savour the ambience of the field beyond.   It sets me up for the day.

Sometimes there's a combination of early morning light and a slight mist that could have you believe you're in the middle of a film set.


Or it could be the wonderful freshness of North Yorkshire's air.   Often you can hear a cock pheasant in the distance, announcing to the world that this is his personal territory.

Today it was the sheep.   I've been watching this particular flock since many of them were bouncy little lambs.   At this time in the morning they're usually making their way up from the bottom of the field to the top

It seems they were fed up with being scrutinised by me, so as a group of 20 or so walked past they turned the tables.   For the first time ever, each and every one of them stopped in front of me.   Each and every one of them looked at me intently for a few moments, then moved on.

I have a sneaking suspicion they couldn't believe their ovine eyes and my poor taste.   I was wearing a free National Geographic fleece!  Their fleeces were far superior.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Thankyou

I really enjoy writing this blog.   But it's such a morale booster to know that people actually bother to read it and some like it enough to follow it.

It's about time I said thankyou to all of you.  

It's also about time I publicly thanked my son for taking all the photographs that appear here.

Of course if my chickens were anything approaching normal, I'd have nothing to write about!   I shall give them a present of boiled potatoes this afternoon to show my appreciation.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Bedtime shenanigans

Maggie


When it was time to close up the coop yesterday evening, Maggie decided that for once she was going to have a late night.   This is most unusual - generally she can't keep her eyes open and is among the first to go to bed.

So she was picked up and popped into the coop via the nestbox.   But she wasn't ready to nod off yet, she thought she'd made that clear by being outside at bedtime.  The side door was opened to count everyone and make sure they were all present and correct.   So she took the opportunity to make a swift exit through the still open pop-hole.   She was just as swiftly put back into the coop and the pop-hole was closed before she could make another run for it.

The side door was opened again to try again to check and ensure that everyone was where they should be.   That annoyed just about all of them, as they were fed up with the continual disturbance.   So en masse they decided to move off the front perch and take up residence on the back perch.

At this point Maggie spotted Tu-Tu sitting smugly in one of the nest boxes.   Well she had to get her own back on somebody and who better than her second in command?  She marched over and quite literally flipped Tu-Tu out into the main coop area.

When it was finally established that nobody was missing, the coop was closed up for the night.   But judging by the mutterings that emanated from inside, we'd just better offer some superb snacks today.   It will be the only way to get back into their good books I think.