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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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Dust-Ups and Doves

Tempers flared in the garden today.

The first to shatter the peace and quiet were our Araucana sisters, Punk and Rebecca.   They are usually close friends and when you see one of them, the other won't be far away.   This was true this afternoon when they were side by side eating the lawn.   I can only imagine that Punk ate a piece of grass that Rebecca had her eye on, because Rebecca pecked her sister's head so hard it made Punk squeek.   Our generally docile, really laid-back Punk was so cross she retaliated - and then some!   She ended up with a mouthful of Rebecca's feathers sticking out from her beak at all angles.   Do not mess with Punk is our lesson for today.

Then it was Maggie's turn.   She's a bolshie old bag to start with and has never taken any nonsense from anyone.   However, I think she must have had a headache or something today, because when Fizz sidled up to her and said the cockerel equivalent of, "Hello honeybun.  Do you fancy a love-in?", she flew at him with her considerable expanse of feathers fluffed up to their fullest extent.   She chested him and kept running after him to chest him again and again.   Then she turned and marched from the garden into the coop.   She reached the gate just as Irene was coming out, so she had a go at Irene too.   You might think that chickens can't possibly have facial expressions, but I'm telling you that Irene looked astonished.   She, of course, had no idea what had gone on before and even less idea what she'd done to upset Maggie so much.

Then Fizz spotted a Collared Dove gliding towards the garden, it's eyes firmly fixed on the dish of corn which we'd put out for the chickens.   He did what he always does when he spots birds that aren't chickens and yelled out, "CROW!!!!!!!!!!!!" at the top of his voice.   He gave the dove such a fright, it belly-flopped into next-door's hedge.

There's never a dull moment with our lot.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Where's Tu-Tu?

This whole business of brooding the 5 eggs gets more and more interesting.   Tu-Tu is helping Maggie keep them all nice and warm .......... well she does usually.   But we looked in the nestbox and could only see Maggie.  

   
Where's Tu-Tu?   






 This worried us, because she was nowhere to be seen in the run either.   Then, all of a sudden ......

...... there she is!   

She had wormed her way in underneath Maggie, and peeped out from beneath her wing when she heard our voices!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Double-decker Rebecca

Rebecca's choice of where in the coop she wants to sleep is hard to understand sometimes.

See what I mean - she sneaked in underneath Irene

Irene is singularly unimpressed


One time Rebecca decided to snuggle up underneath Fizz, but when Fizz goes to sleep he zonks right out.   Rebecca not only pushed her way underneath him, she gave a flick of her head at the same time.  All this happened just as we opened the coop's side door to check up on everyone.   The result was that Fizz came flying off the perch, straight out of the door and landed in a heap outside!   He looked totally bewildered, like you do when you're rudely woken up out of a deep sleep.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Zzzzzzzzzz

Punk having a sleep in her bath.   Oh come on - we've all done it!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A very odd incident

Such a strange thing happened.   We had let the chickens out into the garden and they'd all been happily rootling round, having their usual good time.   Fizz, as normal, had yelled out "CROW!!!!" at the top of his voice whenever any kind of bird flew across his line of sight.   He'd even proved what a brave little bantam he was by chasing off a Jackdaw that had had the nerve to land in the garden and eye up the bowl of mixed corn we'd placed there for the flock to snack on.

Then one of the girls, we're not sure which one, gave a low "hum".   Every single chicken froze.   They all stayed stock still for absolutely ages.

I'd seen a sparrowhawk hunting a few fields away earlier in the day, and wondered if it had returned, even though I couldn't see it now.   They certainly didn't react this way when one of the cats strolled by.

Just as suddenly, it was business as usual.   Titian resumed her gossipy prattle, Tu-Tu chased Rebecca and Punk, Fizz reminded everyone there were snacks to be had, Pom-Pom continued to ignore him and Irene went back to trying to escape into the vegetable section of the garden.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Out of the mouths of babes

The table manners of our chickens sometimes make me wonder where I went wrong with their upbringing. 

Take Irene, for example.   There are lots of places in the run where she can get a nice, clean, fresh drink.   But she much prefers mucky puddle water if the opportunity arises to slurp some.

Then there was the episode of Pom-Pom and the lettuce leaf.    She may look really sweet and demure, but put her near lettuce and she crams as much into her beak as possible.   This often means there's a bit sticking out of the side of her mouth, because she can't swallow it all in one go.   Fizz, being the good cockerel he is, likes to call the girls over when he spots a tasty morsel which he thinks they might enjoy eating.   Unfortunately, this time the tasty morsel was in Pom-Pom's beak.   So he took hold of the end, gently pulled the whole lot out of her mouth, placed it on the floor in front of her and then ........ told her where it was!   By this time, Rebecca had arrived.   She was on the point of grabbing said tasty morsel, but Pom-Pom beat her to it - after all, it was hers in the first place.   However, there was still so much lettuce leaf that again, some was left sticking out.   So, not to be thwarted, Rebecca grabbed the bit that was still showing, pulled the lot out, then legged it across the lawn, eating it as fast as she could.

Finally, we come to disgusting Titian.   As Maggie was walking past her, she dropped a poo.   Titian glanced at it, then stretched her neck so that she could make sure she could actually see what she thought she could see.   She was right - there was an undigested piece of corn sitting temptingly at the outer edge of Maggie's dropping.   So she ate it!   Ugh!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

More broody news

The Araucanas have given up adding to Maggie's clutch of eggs and now lay in the next-door nest - when they can be bothered laying at all.   Irene lays in there too and so does Titian occasionally.   But Tu-Tu and Pom-Pom still insist on piling in with Maggie and laying their eggs in with her.   Maggie's attitude seems to be "the more the merrier", but as we've marked the original eggs, we know which ones to remove.   We've left Araucana and Pekin eggs for Maggie and look forward with interest to see if any of the chicks will inherit their father's frizzled feathers. 

Maggie and Tu-Tu

From time to time, Tu-Tu still squeezes into the nestbox to help Maggie keep the eggs warm, and always rushes in to take her place when Maggie goes out for a drink and a snack.   Can't have those eggs getting cold!   Titian has taken to going into the coop, settling down on the floor in front of Maggie and updating her on all the latest gossip.   It's hard to tell whether Maggie is bothered by all this attention or not.  She's always been a placid soul, so I imagine she takes it all in her stride.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Maggie's little helpers

Nobody can say that our little flock don't help each other out whenever they can.   For starters, most of them will squeeze in with Maggie and lay another egg for her to add to her collection.   Actually, Irene and Titian draw the line at doing this.   Well it would be an impossibly tight fit and they both like their comfort, so they lay their large eggs in the nest next door.

We originally intended to allow Maggie to brood just a couple of eggs, but this has grown to 5 (maybe 6 by the time I've finished writing this).   It's easy enough to work out which egg belongs to Pom-Pom and remove it.   Hers are snowy white and elongated.   But both Araucanas sneaked in their identical contributions and Tu-Tu added two, too. 

Tu-Tu with last year's brood (Punk, Rebecca and Rocky)

We lift Maggie off her nest two or three times every day.   She will then have a quick snack, a long drink and a good dustbath.   The moment she's out of the coop, Tu-Tu dashes in and sits on the eggs to keep them warm.  Isn't that nice of her.   However, as soon as Maggie sets foot in the coop, Tu-Tu has the good sense to get up and go.

Last year it was Tu-Tu who was broody and Maggie helped out now and then, but quickly lost interest.   It will hopefully remain the other way round this year, as I really don't want two broody hens.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Sex Bomb

Fizz is randy most of the time, but he’s really, really ready for sex as soon as the coop is opened up.   The girls are well aware of this and race off in all directions as soon as they emerge.   This morning he had no luck catching anyone.  

Fizzy

Then he spotted Titian making her stately way down the ramp from the coop.   All of a sudden he remembered how much in love with her he was.  As she stepped into the run, he danced up to her, his wings flapping and absolute adoration radiating from every fibre of his being.   The feeling was not mutual.   She glared down at him (he’s only half her height) and fluffed out her neck feathers, which is normally enough to send him off to look for love elsewhere.   But this morning he fancied his chances.   He lovingly gazed right back, convinced that this time she would succumb to his charms.  

Titian

They stood like this, almost eyeball to eyeball, for a long, long minute until Fizz got fed up with waiting for her to surrender.   He metaphorically shrugged his shoulders, decided it was her loss and went for breakfast.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Are we there yet?

Maggie stopped laying eggs when she became broody, so the other girls have rallied round and lay their eggs in the nestbox where she has taken up permanent residence.   This theoretically gives her something to brood, if only I would desist from removing them!    Even Pom-Pom decided to help out today.   But could she just pop in, nestle down beside Maggie, lay her egg and push off?   Of course not!   First she kept wriggling around in front of Maggie, then tried to push her out altogether.  When that proved impossible, she inched and squirmed and pushed her way round behind the long-suffering hen.   Then Maggie turned round so that she could watch the new egg being laid and get it underneath her before I had time to grab it.  The result is shown in this video:

video
  
I rather imagine Pom-Pom will go back to laying her eggs all over the place again - after all, she has helped Maggie out once and that's quite enough.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Here come the girls (and boy)

I’ve talked about some of my chickens, but I really should introduce them to you properly.

Irene is a Light Sussex and tries to prove she’s in charge by rushing round, pinching bits of everyone else’s food or treat - sometimes even from their beaks!   The others are blissfully unaware that she’s top of the pecking order, so we have a nicely relaxed flock.

Irene

Titian is a Rhode Island Red and a right chatterbox.   It's non-stop chit-chat when you picke her up for a cuddle.   Or when you pick one of the others up for a cuddle.   Or if you haven't picked anyone up for a cuddle. 

Maggie is an Orpington bantam with a huge amount of feathers.   She trails round with all sorts of things attached to her lower rear end – dead leaves, petals, twigs.  She either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

Tu-Tu is a Pekin and used to be a right cantankerous old bag.  These days she confines herself to rushing up to her two foster children and giving them a peck for no apparent reason.

Tu-Tu

Rebecca is one of said foster children and is an Araucana bantam.  She absolutely must sleep next to Fizz, even though once it meant crouching on the perch between Irene’s legs.

Punk is her sister and is much more laid back.   But when anyone digs a hole, Punk lurks close by, ready to nip in and grab whatever juicy morsel is dug up before anyone else can get it.

Pom-Pom is a Poland bantam who likes nothing better than a lie-in in the morning.   I think she was a lady of leisure in a previous life and has never forgotten it.

Lastly, Fizz is our Poland bantam cockerel.   Cross Frank Spencer with Kenneth Williams and you’ve got a pretty good idea what Fizz is like.