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, 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.


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


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


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


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


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.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Saturday Night Feather

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.

Eat your heart out John Travolta

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Turf war

For a little while now, Punk has become increasingly aggressive.   First she started picking on Pom-Pom, who now runs away if she sees either Araucana's feet.   Then she started chasing her sister Rebecca away.   Today, she decided to headbutt Irene!

Irene's rather startled - she's never been headbutted before!

The force of it sends her a bit off balance

But she recovered and gave Punk a severe looking at
It could just be that Punk isn't moulting to the same extent as everyone else and feels left out.   Or it could it possibly be that she's trying to show Maggie that she's so tough, she should replace Tu-Tu as No. 2?   But in truth I suspect she's very much her own chicken.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Good career move

Over the past few weeks we've noticed that Maggie and Tu-Tu seem to have developed a close friendship.   On reflection, this friendship seems to have sprung up since they shared a nestbox when they both went into broody mode.

Maggie and Tu-Tu a few weeks ago

These days, particularly when they are out in the garden, it's not at all unusual to see them side by side munching on the grass.

Of course it may be that Tu-Tu has an altogether more ulterior motive and has latched on to Maggie deliberately.   When Queen B was alive, Tu-Tu was second in command and had been right from the word go.   Queen B would issue an order, Tu-Tu would act as enforcer.   Back then, she had a lot of power.

About this time last year she went broody, so we got her some fertile eggs and removed her to her own quarters to incubate them and raise the chicks she hatched.   Her absence from the flock resulted in her plummeting down to the bottom of the pecking order.

Bit by bit, she has worked her way back up through the ranks.   Now that Maggie has taken charge of the No. 1 position, perhaps Tu-Tu has formulated a cunning plan.   I can't help wondering if this new closeness with Maggie isn't related to a shared nest box at all.   In reality, perhaps it's all part of her planned career progression.   

At the moment, Maggie is doing all her own enforcement, but it will be interesting to see how, and if, Tu-Tu makes herself as indispensable to Maggie as she was to Queen B.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Keep on running

Every one of our eight chickens absolutely adores apples.   So from time to time, I chop one up into eight pieces (an apple, not a chicken).   Then I put the pieces on the lawn and stand back.

But instead of each chicken helping themselves to one of the eight pieces of apple, this happens .......

Apparently everyone wants the piece that Tu-Tu has grabbed!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Fearless or foolish?

We have a family of robins who visit the garden frequently - I've mentioned Pom-Pom's encounters with one of them in previous posts.

As well as mum (or it could be dad), there are two youngsters, one from the first hatching whose red breast has developed beautifully.   The other one is much younger and still has a spotty chest, but is just too sweet for words.  Unfortunately these two adolescents don't seem to have a whole brain between them!

The older one accidentally tried to join me in the summerhouse a few days ago.   Today the same one tried to fly through my son's head, swerving just in time to miss him.  

Having seen his brother's antics, the younger one thought it would be clever to fly into the garden and land on Titian's back!   Fortunately he realised the error of his ways when Titian glared at him and he quickly flew off to the safety of the fence.

I wait with bated breath for the next performance by these two.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Punk the pugilist

We have a constant battle with Irene and Rebecca.   They want to dig the path up to see if there's anything interesting beneath the pebbles, we keep stopping them.

Today, Punk decided to join in.   Irene and Rebecca got fed up with being moved off the path over and over again, so they wandered off.   But not Punk - oh no.  She had found something really interesting to do and she was quite determined to do it.

My son was standing on the path taking pictures of our little flock to go on this blog.   That didn't bother Punk, she simply scratched at the pebbles by his feet.   So he bent down and gently ushered her back onto the grass with his hand.   She simply made her way back and continued what she'd started.   So he again gently pushed her back onto the grass.   She looked very irritated, went straight back and scratched at the pebbles with a vengeance.   This time when my son reached towards her to remove her from the path, she was livid!   Her hackles fluffed out and she flew at him feet first, then pecked him hard on the offending hand.

A very cross Punk

I've said it before and I shall say it again.   Do not mess with Punk!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

We shell not be beaten

Tu-Tu is a lovely looking little bantam, a beautiful Lavender Pekin.   She's a real fluff-ball and when you pick her up to give her a cuddle, she weighs next to nothing.


The outside of this chicken may look delicate, flimsy and fragile, but I strongly suspect that she's made of tempered steel on the inside.  The reason for this suspicion lies with her eggs.  

When I've needed to crack eggs to cook with, I've always found Tu-Tu's much tougher to open than anyone else's.   As an experiment, we threw one into the field behind the garden (we knew the crows would be delighted to clean up after us).   There's a 6 ft drop from our garden to the field, so we just tossed the first one in.   Now we'd see how tough the shell of Tu-Tu's egg really was.  It bounced and rolled, but didn't crack, not even the tiniest bit.  

Well we couldn't resist it, could we (and after all, crows have to eat too).   So a few days later, we threw another one in, rather higher than the first one.   It bounced and rolled, but didn't crack, not even the tiniest bit.

By now, we were determined to break one, and grabbed Tu-Tu's next egg practically from underneath her.  This time, my son threw it as high in the air as he possibly could.   Up, up, up it went, curving lazily round before plummeting to the ground.   It bounced and rolled, but didn't crack, not even the tiniest bit!!!!

So we gave up wasting Tu-Tu's eggs (much to the disappointment of the crows).   Well I know when I'm beaten.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Tails you win

Titian's tail has a life of its own.   For a start when she comes over for a gossip, as she frequently does, when she clucks away her tail quivers to the rhythm of her chit-chat.   When she stops talking, her tail stops quivering.   When she starts chattering again, her tail resumes its action.   Weird (but I haven't told her that in case it upsets her).

When she's simply wandering around, her tail goes into indicator mode.   If she's standing still thinking, or looking, or eating, The Tail points straight back in line with her body.   When she decides to move, The Tail points in the direction she's going to move.   She's obviously read the Highway Code - indicate first, then manoeuvre.

Titian signalling a left turn

It will be interesting to see what happens if she ever moults all her tail feathers, like Fizz has done this year.  How will she know which way to turn?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Eyes down looking Part 2

Pom-Pom had another encounter with the robin, but this time with a different result.

She was a bit further away when she spotted him - and the robin spotted her at the same time.   Who knows what went through her tiny mind, or his, but they both leapt backwards!

He recovered his dignity slightly and flew off.   Pom-Pom stood lost in thought for a moment or two, then got on with eating the lawn.