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.


For the ebook version, just click the link on the right.

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.


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.


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.


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


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 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 .   There's another (no crocheting) at

If you're better with a needle and cotton, go to

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:

and there's an update in The Guardian at:

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 .......