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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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Do as you're told

I have a battle on my hands.   Nonami has only been laying eggs for 5 weeks and the little madam has decided to go broody!  Well she's thinking hard about it anyway.

At first we thought she was simply taking ages to lay her egg, as she spent forever in the nest box.  But on reflection, we realised that she didn't do that for the first 4 weeks, this was something new.  Then two things happened on Sunday. 

We went to check how she was doing, after she had been sitting for half an hour.   She gave a quiet growl when we opened the nest box lid and looked most displeased when No. 1 Son felt underneath her to see if she had laid yet.   Not only had she produced an egg herself, she had snaffled those laid by Tu-Tu and Punk and was pancaked across the three of them!   Worse was to come.  We hoiked her out of the nest box, and discovered that she had begun to pull her chest feathers out.  Fortunately there were only a dozen or so in her little den, but her intention was crystal clear.

There was nothing for it;  I had to have a mother to chicken chat with her.   I explained the drawbacks of being a very young mother in graphic detail.  All that responsibility, no more time to yourself, all that sort of stuff.  Then came the clincher.  I looked her in the eye and told her very firmly that I would decide if I needed more chickens, not some pint-sized Silver Sussex!

Seems to have worked, as she hasn't set foot in the nest box today.   Or has she gone on strike?

Prissy and Scrat waiting patiently for Nonami to get her egg laid

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Introducing the new additions

The very first two hens who came to live with us were Queen B and Tu-Tu.  We got them from the Home Farm of a lovely early 16th century mansion near Leeds, so we returned there when we wanted some more bantams.  We were not disappointed.  We came home with a white Croad Langshan and two Silver Sussex girls.

Initially we thought the Langshan would be the trio's leader.  When we put the three of them in the carrier, she had ooched the two Sussex hens along until they were crammed up against the back wall, and she had the luxury of plenty of room left over for herself.  But that's been the only time she's shown any leadership qualities.   The oldest of the new lot is one of the Silver Sussex ladies (on the right of the picture), who was born in November 2013 - the other two were December chicks. Where she goes, they quickly follow.  

We kept them apart from the others for nearly three weeks.  They could all see each other, but were separated by fencing, both in the run and when they were out in the garden.  It was during garden time that the older Sussex really showed her mettle.  The full story of this period will appear in my regular column of June's "Practical Poultry" magazine; just suffice it to say she took on all-comers.

Once we let both groups mingle, the biggest problem was Fizz.  Wouldn't you think he'd be delighted to welcome more ladies to his harem?  But no!   He saw them as aliens from another planet and kept right on attacking them.  The water squirter worked overtime, I can tell you.

Things have sort of settled down now, but they all stay in two quite separate groups.  The two younger newbies even gather beneath the coop to wait for the oldest Sussex while she lays her egg (she laid her first one at the farm, only an hour or so before we collected her).

The new girls have quite distinct personalities.  The Langshan was obviously a model in a previous life, judging by the amount of time she spends preening and making sure she looks good at all times.  When she's not preening, she's eating.  Perhaps she's making up for all the times she had to diet during her modelling career.  She's a very docile hen, but stunningly beautiful.

The oldest Sussex has proved herself to be a feisty madam, but she has also quickly accepted our need to cuddle her.   The younger one, however, has not.   This morning she took one look at me, decided she wasn't taking any chances that I might want cuddles and, from a standing start, flew 20ft (6 metres) into the field behind the garden!   When a sheep started to wander across to take a closer look at her, she ran up and down wondering how to get back where she belonged.  Luckily No. 1 Son was on hand to jump into the field and rescue her.

I think we're in for a lot of fun with our new feathery friends.