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, 25 July 2012

Age is just a number

Titian having a snooze by the summerhouse

Tu-Tu is our oldest chicken - she must be, because she laid eggs from the day she arrived in our chicken coop;  it was quite some time before the others joined in.  But I suspect that Titian is much older - well mentally anyway.

She still looks just as beautiful as she ever did.  She's a lovely rich reddish-brown colour (if you ignore the white feather near her bum) and her feathers are glossy and sleek.  So what if the odd little bunch of feathers stick out at peculiar angles and who is going to notice the occasional light brown one dotted about here and there.

And this girl has a mind of her own.   Last year she remembered that Rhode Island Reds are dual-purpose birds, being both meat and egg producers.   So although she had laid gorgeous big brown eggs in her first year, last year she didn't bother much.   I don't think she actually intended that we should stuff her with lemons and stick her in the oven.   I suspect she was just making a point, in her own inimitable fashion.

She's returned to prolific egg laying again now.   These days her eggs are still brown, but that's where the similarity with her early eggs stops.  Her current products are half the size they were before and each of them has a cute pointy top.  The shells are paper-thin too.   It doesn't matter what we feed her to try and thicken them up a bit, they remain stubbornly fragile.

Maybe she's just decided to make sure we don't eat too much fried stuff. If you break her eggs into a frying pan you discover that although the yolks are nice and big, there's not much white and what there is, is watery and sticks tenaciously to the pan.   We've learned to scramble all Titian's eggs.   For one thing it's safer breaking them over a bowl.   You may end up with bits of shell in there too, but at least Titian's eggs aren't draped across the kitchen counter and dripping onto the floor that's just been washed.

She's only three, so in real terms she's a middle-aged Rhode Island Red, not an old girl at all.   But just as some people are old at 25, I rather imagine the same applies to other creatures too.   Maybe Titian falls into that category.

Monday, 16 July 2012

This and that

There can't be too many people who've been nagged by a wild pheasant, but it happened to me last week.

I was sitting in the garden with the chickens when I heard a soft muttering, which definitely wasn't coming from the chickens.   I looked up and there was Mrs Pheasant on my garden wall, glaring at me.

Our lovely neighbourhood female pheasant

She's usually around at mid-afternoon and if I'm out too, I drop a few handfuls of corn into the field for her.  When she sees me, she comes running over, knowing there's food to be had.   Evidently she wanted her afternoon tea now and what was I doing?  Chatting to chickens, that's what!

She graciously posed for No. 1 Son, while I sorted her food out.   She's a lovely bird and no photograph could possibly do justice to the subtle shading and patterns of her feathers. 

Moving on ......

A couple of weeks ago the floor of the spare coop fell down into the cage below.   Both Titian and Pom-Pom like to lay their eggs on the cage floor, so it was fortunate that neither of them were there when the floor nose-dived.

A couple of days later, I was having a headcount and realised Titian was missing.  I looked everywhere!  I went back and forth between the garden and the run, looking in places that even tinyTu-Tu couldn't have squeezed into.   I was beginning to get frantic when I had a brainwave.  I opened up the side door of the spare coop and there was Titian, comfortably settled in the nest box.  She gave me a look that clearly said, "Do you mind?  I could do with a little privacy here."   With no floor, all she'd had to do was hop up into this new inner sanctum - much more secluded than the cage below.  Evidently Rebecca has found this hidy hole too, because one of her eggs was in there today.

Pom-Pom, on the other hand, isn't bothered about privacy one little bit.   No. 1 Son had cut a hedge and piled the clippings in the garden to await being chopped up and put on the compost heap.   Pom-Pom spotted this neat heap of twigs and leaves, decided it would make a good nest, and started stomping around to flatten it down a bit.

Pom-Pom starts organising a nest suitable for a high-class hen like her

It mattered not one iota that the pile was large and she was small.  This is one determined little hen.  It took her a while, but eventually she had flattened a nice-sized area.   Then she looked around, decided there was something not quite right about it and laid her egg near the dustbath.

And finally we come to one of the Three Musketeers a.k.a. Fizz.   You'll need to remember what his headgear looks like - droopy these days, so here's a reminder:

He managed to get someone else's fluffy, downy white feather attached to his own hairdo.  It drooped elegantly down from near the top of his head at a decidedly rakish angle.   He reminded me so much of the impetuous, reckless young D'Artagnon.  It could only happen to him!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Titian has a cantankerous day

It was a lovely, hazy morning when I went down to open up the chickens this morning.  The sun (which has now disappeared yet again) was busy burning off the mist that lingered lazily over the field at the back of the garden.  Two Canada geese and their three teenaged youngsters had dropped by to inspect the lake which has formed there again - thanks to all the recent rain. There was a calm, peaceful air about the place.

This was in complete contrast to  a few days ago, when there was complete mayhem!

Earlier in the day, when the coop had been opened up, Titian and Fizz had had a glaring match.  Necks were stretched forward, beaks were mere inches apart and they glowered at each other.   Neither was prepared to look away first.   At least not until Fizz forgot why he was glowering and took himself off for breakfast.

All was fine until that afternoon when the chickens and I went into the garden.   Titian and Fizz found themselves on the lawn, about a yard apart.   Fizz was wondering which girl to bonk next;  Punk was handy, but Tu-Tu was looking rather tempting.   So it came as a complete surprise when Titian fluffed up her chest feathers and charged at him.  

The force of her onslaught sent him staggering into the temporary chickenwire fence.   Deciding that a getaway was his best defence, he tried to escape.   But Titian employed some fancy footwork (for a heavyweight) and walloped him just as he reached the hen run gate.

He took off again and managed to get as far as the smoking shelter when Titian caught up with him and hostilities continued.   And this time, she had reinforcements.   Rebecca came galloping in and jumped on Fizz's back.  I could almost hear the thought rushing through her little brain, "Now you know what I have to put up with!"

I was about to intervene when Fizz managed to fly up onto the smoking shelter roof and from there into the upper part of the run.   Titian decided she'd done enough to teach him a lesson and wandered back into the garden.   Rebecca, looking hugely disappointed, followed her out.

There was no obvious reason for either the morning scowls or the afternoon fracas.   Maybe Titian was irritated because Fizz has been bullying Irene (see my last post).  Or maybe it was something else entirely.   You can never tell with chickens, can you.