Friday, 16 September 2011

Just how hard can it be?

I really ought to be updating about the happenings in the garden but that will have to wait.  I just must get this off my chest.  It's one of those stories that could only happen in this house.  No one else has things like this happen, I am sure we must live on a ley line or something.  Mind you that would be this house and the last which would be too much of a coincidence really.  Anyway, this is what happened yesterday...

We have been trying to sell our camper van on EBay.  We listed it for 7 days with a start price of 99p and a reserve.  Naturally we got all the usual stupid questions about what is the reserve, do we have a buy it now price, will we take cash today, why has it been raised (it hasn't you moron its a 4x4) where is the cooker (look in the pic) and all sorts of other rubbish that I can't even remember now.  Lots of people were very interested and wanted to buy it now but we decided to leave the auction to run.  True to form all of the people who were so desperate to buy it today didn't even bother to bid.  That's what bugs me about EBay, there are so many tyre kicking time wasters.  So the auction ended and the van hadn't reached reserve so we were pretty cheesed off because as much as we love the van we are not using it and it's going rusty with this salty air here in Norfolk.  We want to use the money to buy a boat which we should get more use out of.

Next day The Hairy Person got a phone call on his mobile.  "Hello, my name is (something unpronounceable) I live in Poland and I want to buy your van".  Erm OK so how are you going to do this?  Turns out he intends to fly into Norwich airport buy the van and then drive it back to Poland!!!  Honestly we thought it was a wind up.  He said he would let us know when he had a flight.  We didn't really expect to hear from him again.  But on Monday he rang saying he was flying in on Thursday and would be with us mid afternoon, could we pick him up from a local rail station.  Erm...yeah OK we can do that.

So Thursday arrives and we are still wondering if this is actually going to happen.  Poland is a very long way to come to buy a camper van!  The phone rang about half three, he was at the station so Hairy set off to pick him up.  He took the camper so Polish man knew who he was.  They arrived back at four o'clock and set about going over the van, explaining how things worked and where things were.  Then Polish man wants a test drive.  The trouble is he has never driven right hand drive before or driven on the left!  Hairy said he had the ride of his life with Polish man almost putting them in the ditch at the side of the road at least twice.  He looked very pale under his usual coating of oil and grease when they finally came indoors to complete the paperwork.

It was then that Polish man dropped his bombshell.  In his broken English he announced that he needed insurance to drive the van.  Erm...wouldn't it have been a good idea to sort that out before you left Poland?  Then he asks if he can use Hairy's insurance for a day.  Erm NOOOO!  The next two hours (yes, TWO) were spent with him on the PC and ringing his wife in Poland trying to sort out insurance for one month.  The cheapest he could find was £800...for a month!  After about half an hour I had to run away, I made an excuse that I needed mushrooms and legged it to the shop, I couldn't stand it any more.  It was still going on when I got back and I was informed that he was going to put the insurance at this address and we would pay for it on our card.  Are you mad, Hairy, I asked!!!

Eventually we convinced him that his Polish insurance should cover him to drive it.  Whether it did or not we didn't actually care because we were starting to lose the will to live at this point.  After another conversation with his wife in Poland he was happy with that so we started filling in log books and the horrible form he had downloaded as a bill of sale which was in both Polish and broken English.  

Finally at about seven o'clock we made it outside for him to drive away with the van.  Then he drops his next bombshell.  He intends to drive to London in it (120 miles) to meet his friend at an unspecified train station so his friend can drive it through London because of all the traffic.  The trouble was he had no map.  Honestly, hells map!!!  A friend of ours had turned up meanwhile and had been waiting about half an hour and he gave Polish man his own atlas just to get rid of him.  You can imagine things were getting pretty desperate by now.  

Eventually just to get rid of him Hairy drove our car with him following as far as the main 'A' road which is about 15 mins away.  Then they guy points to his newly acquired map and tells us he will pull over on the M11 and ring his friend!!!!  EEK oh no you won't matey!  Hairy ended up going into the petrol station with him, helping him fill up and pay and buy some food and drink before setting off to meet his friend at Redbridge

It was quarter past eight by the time Hairy got home.  Four hours to sell a vehicle.  It has to go down as the most traumatic sale we have ever done and we have sold 100's of cars over the years.  I was starting to think I was going to end up having Polish man stay the night.  At one point I was hissing at Hairy 'He is not staying in our spare room OK!'  Hairy said he would have to sleep in the camper van on the drive!  I had a visions of me taking him a fried breakfast on a tray in the morning.

We were paranoid all evening, or what was left of it anyway that we were going to get a phone call to say he was lost, or crashed.  I half expected to have customs and excise on the doorstep...or Interpol or the drug squad!  What a night!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Introducing Baby Sparky!

Sparky is growing fast.  He is already about 2/3 size of a full grown dove.  These littlies grow so fast.  He is pretty much white now too, that didn't take long either.  It was less than a week ago he was growing his little pin feathers.  It's good that he has his feathers because they will keep him warm now that Esme is not sitting on him much.  Mind you he is so big it would be hard to sit on him!

Baby's first photo!

Friday, 26 August 2011

We are NOT amused!

We had an unusual visitor today.  There are lots of rabbits out in the wood but they never venture into our garden.  When it snowed I went out a little way into the wood, only a few yards and there were bunny prints everywhere but none at all in our garden.  The snow is good for providing evidence like that.  Anyway today there was a lovely flopsy bunny in our garden pootling about as bunnies do.  We were so pleased to see him and were watching him out of the window saying things like "Ah isn't he cute", well I was anyway.  Suddenly Rosie came into view, running at full speed with wings a-flapping, charging like a bull at the poor bunny.  Naturally upon seeing the chooky apparition bearing down on him he turned and ran for cover.  Rosie of course looked very pleased with herself and strutted about like a conquering hero clucking her head off.  Obviously she didn't want bunnies in her garden!

The reason for Rosie's stroppy mood could have been the weather.  It was foul this morning, absolutely teaming with rain.  I had to don full waterproofs to go out there and let them out, feed them and poo pick the house.  Not a pretty sight at 7am I can tell you.  They were all very put out when I let them out.  They poked their heads out very tentatively, peering about as if there was something really wrong with their world.  You would think they had never seen rain before!  Then they came down the ladder making scolding clucks as if it was all my fault and they were telling me off.  They were definitely not amused!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

A guest for breakfast!

The doves brought a new friend home to play this morning.  I had just got up and was outside feeding them and the chooks and thought to myself  'There are too many there'.  A quick count up revealed seven birds not including Sparky.  I ran indoors and grabbed my binoculars for a closer look and found that sure enough there was an extra bird on the bird table.  He is smallish, looks quite young and has some dark patches on his head and back, so not quite pure dove but with a bit of feral in there somewhere.  I knew that Hairy Hubby wouldn't be too amused that a mixed bird might be joining the flock (he wants them all pure white) so I decided to tell him that the new boy was a bit grubby.  Sadly he didn't fall for that one and knew right away that they were darker patches not dirt.  Luckily he didn't go too mad about it.  I had visions of him running outside scaring the new boy off.  It will be interesting to see if he hangs around, the new boy that is, not Hairy.

Sparky seems to be doing well.  I heard him squeaking today for the first time.  Usually he just sits there quietly but Esme was on the nest so he was probably harassing her fro more food.  You can see his back quite well from the ground now he is getting bigger and starting to grow feathers.  I reckon another week and he will be pretty much white.  I just love Pidgie babies, they are so much fun!

At lunchtime I was thrilled to see Davey (Daisy) collecting nesting material.  He and May have been 'doing the do' a lot lately so I was hoping for the patter of tiny claws.  My elation was quickly doused when he flew off with the nesting material, over the house and over the road.  What a cheek!  The little traitors are nesting on the neighbours house!  I was gutted.  Heartbroken in fact.  I should have expected it really but I just prayed they would come home to breed.  I suppose really they live over there but just come here to feed and hang out occasionally.  I wish there was something I could do to get them to come home.  I keep dropping very loud hints to Hairy Hubby about making another dovecote.  Maybe if there was an extra one which didn't have the resident Mr and Mrs Lovey-Dovey breeding in it they would feel more at home.  Sadly my very subtle hints ("You need to make another dovecote") went unheard.  It seems that The Hairy One is suffering from that deafness which so often occurs at awkward moments like when their other half asks them to do something....

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The almost baby snatcher!

Yesterday morning I was concerned that Esme wasn't keeping her baby warm.  I couldn't get hold of Owlmomma for advice (she was on the phone giving advice about a crippled pigeon) and I was due to leave to go to The Haven for the day.  I made a decision to take the baby out of the nest and take him into The Haven to be cared for.  However, after lugging a solid wood garden chair down to the bottom of the garden so I was tall enough to look in, I found that the dear little fella was as warm as toast and looking pretty good.  He was getting his pin feathers all over his body and was so cute he melted my heart.  I popped him back in the nest and rang Eaglebeard for advice.  After some discussion we decided to leave the little guy in his home and just keep an eye on Esme.  He said it sounds like our little cutie is big enough to be left for a while by his mum.  All I can say is thank heaven that I didn't take him out!  I'd have been a real life baby snatcher.  Poor Esme has waited all this time for her baby and I almost took him away and wrongly accused her of child neglect!  Ohhh the shame and guilt of it all!  Now that I have met him properly I have given the little guy a name.  He will be called Sparky.  I had actually chosen it a week ago but didn't want to risk naming him officially till I knew he had a good chance of survival.  Cross everything for him!

Action Dog's paw seems better now.  It was much less red yesterday morning and looked like something had deflated, there was a sort of burst blister looking patch.   She was still a bit hoppy in the morning but better by evening when I got home so I was happy not to take her to the vet.  I can only think that she had been stung by some rabid insect in the garden.  She has been stung by red ants before but that was no ant sting!

I caught Ivy taking a paddle in the dove's bathwater today.  She was just standing there up to her ankles looking very pleased with herself.  Naturally as soon as she saw that I was there with camera in hand she got out fast and walked swiftly away like a pop star being papped!  I did manage one spectacularly bad pic from a distance, it's zoomed right in so very grainy.

Ivy having a paddle

Monday, 22 August 2011

Munchhausen's by Pet?

Blossom's limp seemed much better yesterday and today when she got up there was no trace of it.  What a relief that was.  It was so nice to see them all healthy and happy trotting round the garden.  All was well in my chooky world.  At least for a little while.

I went out for most of the day today.  Shopping, which is not something I enjoy much but it had to be done.  When I got back Hairy Hubby was screaming his tractor mower round the back lawn and making quite a good job of it.  Oh good less chicken poop for me to pick up in the morning.  Yipeee!  As soon as he saw me he stopped and turned it off.  I knew that had to be a bad sign, it takes a lot to separate that man from his mower!  He told me that the as yet unknown new next-door-neighbour had knocked to tell us that all our chickens were in her garden.  She didn't mind but thought we ought to know.  Oh great!  Two did the little s*ds get in there? and how was I going to get them out again?  So there was me out in the wood with a jug of corn clucking my head off trying to get the little devils to come home.  Then I realised that they were actually really agitated because they wanted to come home but couldn't find the way out!  New tactics were obviously required!  

After a sneaky wander around their perimeter fence I found a little part of the wire I could lift up a bit.   So praying they wouldn't see me vandalising their fence I pulled it up, rattled my jug of corn and clucked like mad.  Luckily the chooks got the idea and all but two came under the fence and into the wood quite quickly.  Bessie and Wild Child (Maggie) took a bit longer.  I had to walk away to get Wild Child back because she refuses to come within five feet of me!  Eventually she followed the other girls and I piled a load of twigs and branches over the hole at the bottom of the fence so that a) they don't get in there by that route and b) the neighbours don't see what I did!

Flushed with success I went in to cook dinner only to spot that Action Dog has gone lame.  She was fine this morning and I am sure was fine when I came home.  Hairy says all seemed well all afternoon but suddenly she was hopping on three legs and looking very sorry for herself.  On close inspection she has a great big red lump between two toes.  The worrying thing is that it's on her bad foot, the one she had a toe amputated from earlier this year.  I am hoping and praying (yes bigtime) that it is a sting of some sort.  That's all I can think because surely she wouldn't have suddenly started limping like that if it had been there before.  It would have shown itself before this.  If it's still bad in the morning she is going to see the vet, no question.  I'd have been tempted to take her tonight but it was too late by the time I spotted it.  Why on earth don't they sell Calpol for dogs?  You can give your child mild pain relief but not your pet.  It does make me cross.  There are no first aid creams either.  So all I could do was bathe her paw in salt water which she didn't seem to mind too much luckily.

While all this was going on I noticed that Esme was off her nest.  So with Action Dog under my arm I went down for a peek to see who was in there.  I can confirm that there is one baby who seemed to be just getting his pin feathers on his wings.  During all the drama of worrying and paw bathing I noticed that Esme was spending some time on the lawn.  Too much for my liking and I was starting to get a bit worried. After far too long for comfort she got back on so I left well alone.  I find it hard to believe that she sat on a dead egg yet left her baby for so long.  Hopefully he didn't get too cold.  I will check on them in the morning.

So that's my dramatic day.  Honestly I think someone is going to accuse me of having Munchhausen's by Pet!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

I should be bald really...

It's been an 'interesting' few weeks.  Good things and bad things have happened but it's certainly never been boring.  The big news is that the newbies have moved into 'The Big House' which is great because it saves me a whole lot of poop cleaning with them all in one place.  It happened naturally which is so much better than me trying to force the issue.  I opened up the big house one morning, went to open the rabbit hutch and let the new girls out and realised that Bessie and Queenie were already behind me!  Only Maggie and Victoria were in the rabbit hutch, no doubt enjoying the space but wondering if they were missing anything at the sleepover which was going on in the big house.  So I decided that I would keep the rabbit hutch locked up and hope they would all go in together that night which they did.  Maggie and Victoria weren't too amused, Maggie in particular was running all round the rabbit hutch trying to find a way in but when it started to get dark she just went up to bed with the other girls.  Problem solved; well one of them anyway!

The next problem was getting them to lay in the big house like grown up girls.  I kept weakening and opening the rabbit hutch in the morning to let them in because the sight of them all running up and down with their legs crossed needing to lay an egg made my eyes water.  One morning I opened the door to see if there were any eggs and found Bessie and Maggie both in there with Snowdrop crushed up against the wall behind them!  She had been taking a great interest in her old home and had been in to have a nosey round a few times.  She must have snuck in there and got caught in the act and not liked to move incase the other girls noticed her in there.  She had a very worried look on her face, it did make me laugh.  She hasn't done it since!  Bessie started laying in the big house on her own after I overslept one morning (bad chicken owner!), and let them out a bit late.  This morning I decided enough was enough and just left the rabbit hutch closed.  I made a point of not watching and the result was that everyone laid in the big house.  Big phew from me!

Rosie became ill last week.  She was very hunched and had an upset stomach (yes I know there is a proper word for it but I can't spell it ok?) She was still eating and drinking which was weird.  I took her to see Owlmomma on Tuesday and she told me Rosie is as thin as a rake and put her on antibiotics.  So poor Rosie spent the last five days in a puppy cage on the porch of the summerhouse.  She could have wandered about but I needed to keep an eye on her poops plus I had such trouble catching her in the first place I wasn't going to let her go.  It took me about 15 mins of chasing her round the garden throwing my coat over her to finally snare her.  I kept telling her she was meant to be ill but she wasn't listening and ran like a greyhound.  So anyway,I am waffling, she had to live in the cage and I had to inject her once a day.  She seemed better within a day or so and has now finished her meds and is wandering round free and keeping right out of my way.  

A couple of funny things happened while Rosie was in the cage.  The first time I gave her a jab I had her on my lap wrapped up in a towel.  She wasn't too amused and was clucking and wriggling.  The next thing I knew Ivy who is not a touchy feely chicken at all had jumped up on my knee.  That seemed to calm Rosie down and then Ivy jumped off.  I can only think she was concerned about her friend because she spent most of the five days of Rosie's confinement sitting with her.  It was really heartwarming to see.  I had to laugh at Rosie this afternoon, you would think she would be sick of the sight of that cage but no there she was sitting inside it with the door open having a siesta with Ivy keeping watch over her.  Chickens are strange creatures.

I've just had Hairy Hubby come in and tell me that Blossom has a limp.  Honestly these birds give me stress, I have just got one right and another one is giving me worry.  If I have to catch her up and treat her it will be a nightmare because I have never managed to lay a finger on her since the day I brought her home.  The only thing I can think to do is wait till she has gone to bed tonight, grab her out of the coop and bring her indoors for a good look at it.  Hopefully she has just jumped off something and given it a jolt.  She was fine at lunch time.  

First some good news.  Mr and Mrs Harry Lovey-Dovey are proud to announce the hatching of their new baby.  At last Esme's hard work has paid off!  We were becoming very worried about her because she had been sitting for weeks even though I had removed the no good egg.  We were thinking about blocking the nest hole to get her to come out and behave normally.  I had made enquiries if I could buy some fertile dove eggs to pop under her like you do with a broody chicken but there seem to be none available.  Last weekend Hairy was down there and shooed her off the nest to give it a double check before we blocked it and was shocked to find a tiny newly hatched chick.  Talk about a surprise.  Poor Esme she had finally become a Mummy and some hairy great human shooed her off it.  As far as I know all is still well, she is sitting well (no change there, I think she will forget how to fly soon...) and Harry is taking food to them.  I do hope all goes well, it would be great to have a new naturally reared bird in the flock.

The other drama is that Pinky went missing. Actually they all went missing for a day and returned without her. The really worrying thing was that May was as black as the ace of spades.  It looked like she had been down a chimney or something.  All her underwings were grey.  As the days went by I became increasingly worried about Pinky and felt that something must have happened to her.  I asked the new neighbours in the house they roost on (grrr) to keep an eye out for her and to let me know if they found her even if it was bad news.  I even considered putting a missing ad in the local pet shop.  Then yesterday she turned up as bold as brass as if nothing had happened.  She landed on my head, pooped on it and flew to the bird table as usual.  Heaven knows where she has been but I am very glad she is home.  She really is a problem child!

So what with one thing and another it has been eventful.  It's amazing I am not bald from tearing my hair out.  Or maybe I will do that tomorrow....

Snowdrop popping into the kitchen for a visit

Monday, 8 August 2011

Blossom's Posse

The newbies are settling in really well.  Too well in fact, they keep roaming all over the wood and worrying the life out of me.  They are far more adventurous than the ex-batts and Crazy have ever been.  The other day they got stuck behind the one little bit of fence we do have and couldn't work out how to get home.  The obvious answer would have been to walk round it but that soppy lot just stood there looking uncomfortable.  In the end Hairy got a lump of wood and made them a bridge!  Even that took some time for them to work out.  I suppose I have to allow for the fact that they are babies really, only about four months old so this ole world is all new to them, but they do crack me up!

The past few days Blossom (Crazy Chook) seems to have decided that the new girls are her posse and she is going to be their leader.  She hangs about with them all day.  Not during the stuck behind the fence incident I hasten to add, even she has more brains than that.  The five of them are like The A Team strutting round the garden like they own it.  I feel a bit sorry for the ex-batts who seem to be staying out of their way most of the time.  I even saw Bessie have a pop at Rosie today.  I think there are big changes on the horizon, I just hope no one starts on poor little Snowdrop (yes I do have a very soft spot) because she has been through so much already.

The good thing is that they seem to be taming down a little now.  Victoria is very friendly now and squats down in submission as soon as she sees me and lets me stroke her.  Bessie and Queenie have done it a few times too.  I even managed to pick Victoria and Queenie up today and they didn't seem too fussed about it.  Maggie however is still very much a wild child and zooms off as soon as she sees my hand move.   Maybe she and Crazy are kindred spirits because I still can't get near her either.

This ragged pile of feathers and dust is Snowdrop having a dust bath, not a dead thing on the lawn!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

First Day of Freedom!

First off, it's official, the new chooks have names.  So now I can introduce, Queenie, the Sussex Ranger, Bessie the Amber Ranger, Maggie the Magpie Ranger and Victoria the Speckledy.  It took me over a week to sort that lot out.  I had loads of ideas but none of them fitted.  In the end I let them be named whatever seemed right rather than trying to stick to the flower theme.  I was never much for themes anyway, my brain is far too random for that.  So far the only one who is remotely friendly is Victoria, the others freak when I go near them.

I let the new girls out to roam today.  I had originally decided on tomorrow but as the weather is meant to be horrible then I thought I'd let them have their first day of freedom in the sunshine.  They came out quickly.  Almost as quick as Crazy Chook ran over there to see them.  Honestly it was a top speed sprint accross the garden, that bird must have Ostrich genes in her somewhere, she is so fast!  As predicted she had a bit of a pop at a couple of her new buddies.  Bessie seems to be top of the hit list.  Luckily so far at least it has just been a swift peck here and there, which is to be expected really so that's fine.  I knew she would be the one who would follow them around because she was so interested while they were penned.

When they had been out for about an hour I sprinkled some corn for them all.  I did it in two places so the two groups could eat side by side but without competition.  Sadly the new girls didn't realise I had done this for their benefit and munched their way over to the other girls' patch.  The next thing I knew Bessie and Snowdrop were having a bundle.  Bessie was rearing up, stretching her neck to full length to be taller and Snowdrop was copying.  Within about 10 seconds Snowdrop decided it was best not to take her on and trundled off clucking to herself.  I imagine there was some very foul (fowl!) language being used if you could speak fluent chicken.

Apart from those few incidents so far so good.  The next hurdle is bedtime.  Hopefully the new girls will go off to bed without incident.  The ex-batts and Crazy usually go a bit earlier than them which could work in my favour.  Unless Crazy decides to sit up and annoy them instead of going to bed.  I will find out in an hour or so.

The bad news this week is that Daisy has been confirmed to actually be Davey.  He/She was seen strutting her stuff chasing the girls on the roof and there was no mistaking him for a boy.  It's good in one way because it evens up the balance of males to females but its not good because he is in an incestuous relationship with his twin sister May.  So no doubt any egg laying attempts will be a disaster.  No change there then!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Doves, Chooks, Pen and Ink!

Life has kept me away from my blog this past few days.  Every time I thought, yes, sit down and update the news someone has called me away, or called me up or generally distracted me.  It's all very inconvenient, you would think they would have more consideration for my literary (cough) needs.  Anyway, onto the news...

Firstly Snowdrop is fine.  I do apologise for not updating about her.  I kept expecting to get frantic phone calls from well wishers requesting news.  But no it looks like no one else is as sad as me and obsessed with my chickens!  It turned out she was trying to lay again, poor love.  When she got up the next day there was one of her little soft eggs sitting broken in the nest box.  It makes me so sad to see them, thinking what the poor little thing has to go through to lay them and they can't even be eaten.  I've got her on wet go-cat and cod liver oil as well as her layers mash and limestone flour now.  I'm also worming all of them again.  Just to be sure.

The new girls are settling in fine.  They go to bed on their own now which was a big relief to me on their second night.  They are pooping for England and it pongs.  I mean the other chooks hum a bit but in a nice chooky sort of way.  This is just plain nostril burning stench.  I am hoping that it settles down when they are eating the same as the others cos it don't half pen and ink!  It makes poo pick time most unpleasant.  I have a few suggestions to try, live yoghurt being my favourite.  I've always wanted to make my own yoghurt so now I have an excuse.  I have named three of them but am still head scratching about the fourth.  I did have a name but I'm not sure about it yet so won't officially announce their names till I have the full set.

The original girls are very interested in the newbies.  They sit outside their pen clucking away.  It was hilarious this morning to see little bullied Snowdrop squaring up to the Amber Ranger through the wire.  I doubt she would be that brave without the wire though, the other hen was rearing up and trying to kick like a cock bird! Lets pray she is a hen shall we, the way my luck goes I will have four cockerels by mistake...

I have had some lovely moments with the doves recently.  The other evening Pinky came and landed on my head which I love, it reminds me of when she lived indoors with me.  She does it every few days or so but this time when I got her down onto my shoulder May came and sat on my head in her place.  Then Daisy kept dive bombing her trying to knock her off so she could sit there.  Needless to say I was loving the attention!

They still  all roost over the road every night.  It's driving me nuts.  They spend lots of time here sitting in the tree behind the dovecote and on the bird tables but always vanish over there to roost.  Last night I went over there at dusk and caught them out.  I really don't know what they are up to, Daisy and May were sitting huddled together on a window ledge and one of the others (couldn't see who in the gloom) was sitting in one of the roof valleys.  I imagine the others were tucked away somewhere out of view.  They looked very embarrassed when they saw me!  I can't imagine the new people putting up with birds on the window ledge at night and surely when it's occupied they won't like it so much.  I just want them to come home!

"Come out and play with me"

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Introducing The New Crew!

We went and picked up our new chooks yesterday.  In typical style nothing went smoothly, Hairy Hubby left it to the last minute to make their temporary run (again in true style) and had to go to Clacton (95 miles away) to pick up a car in the morning.  Then he was late back because he got stopped by the police on the way home because they were pulling all the vans over for a check.  THEN just as he started his phone rang and he got caught chatting for about 20 mins.  Finally we had to leave the run almost finished to leave for our 4pm appointment in North Walsham at the breeders.  After a massive Satnav moment giving us a lovely ride through every country lane between Stalham and North Walsham we finally arrived amazingly pretty much on time.

We chose four.  A Magpie Ranger who is black with a bit of white on her front, a Speckledy who is grey with a bit of white on her front, a Sussex Ranger who is pretty much a smaller version of Crazy chook and an Amber Ranger who is a creamy colour.  They are all almost at point of lay, two of them are 18 weeks and two 20 weeks.  We finally managed to get them into their new home by about 7pm so they had some time to have a drink and something to eat before bed.

At first they wouldn't go to bed, they were still scratching about about an hour after the other girls had gone up to bed.  Finally they decided to roost on top of the rabbit hutch which is their temporary home for a couple of weeks while they are in confinement.  I couldn't leave them there because they would be too vulnerable so I waited till it was almost dark and went down to pop them into the hutch.  They didn't appreciate it much and squawked madly at me, the little Amber even tried to peck me which none of my girls has ever done.  But I had to get them in there fairly sharpish before they woke up properly or I would have been chasing them round the pen and as its only four foot high that wouldn't have been fun at all.  Anyway I popped them into bed and all was quiet so I was confident they would be safe and happy for the night.

This morning they all came out ok so I hope they know where the bedroom is now although they have roosted on top of the box this afternoon for their siesta.  I had one major hiccup when I was poo picking thier bed.  I hadn't quite pulled the door of the run closed.  It was shut at the top which is the only bit I can get a grip on (The Hairy One's wonderful design has some flaws) but there was a couple of inches left gaping at the bottom and I hadn't realised.  Well the next thing I knew the Sussex and the Magpie were the wrong side of the wire.  I managed to grab the wriggling swearing Sussex quickly and pop her back with her friends but the Magpie who is the most skittish of all of them was really tricky.  In the end between the two of us we managed to herd her towards the door and she ran back in by herself.  I'm still blaming his design even though I know I am a total donut for letting it happen!

Sadly since that incident and me popping them in bed last night they now all think I am the Big Bad Wolf coming to get them if I go in their run now they hide in the corner and freak if I go near them.  I have to say I am gutted, I really want friendly hens who love me as much as I love them.  They were nervy when they arrived but not this bad, I was at least able to touch a couple of them.  I have been going down and chatting to them but they just give me bad looks as if I am public enemy No1.  Maybe things will improve when they are free in the garden or maybe they will always run away from me like Crazy Chook does.  Ex-Batts really do seem the most friendliest.

On a footnote I am slightly worried about Snowdrop, she has been fine all day but went into the coop a couple of hours ago and won't come out.  I offered her Pigeon Conditioner seed (Dove food) which is their favourite treat but she just turned her nose up which is very unlike her.  None of them can resist that seed because its someone else's dinner.   Maybe she just doesn't like to eat in bed.  I do hope so because she has been so well and happy.

L-R Speckledy, Magpie, Sussex and Amber (no real names yet)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

A bit of a scare

I had a bit of a scare the other day.  When I went to put everyone to bed there were white feathers everywhere outside my back door.  I looked up on the roof and there were feathers stuck to the cobwebs on the satellite dish too.  My heart sank and I had a bit of a scout around for more evidence but as I didn't really want to see what might be there it was a bit of a half hearted affair.  When The Hairy One arrived home after dark he spotted them straight away saying 'Have you lost one of your doves?'  This of course took away any faint hope I might have had about my possible paranoia.  If someone else thought it too it must be true.  I went to bed with a heavy heart wondering who the casualty was and if they were sitting somewhere injured and needing help or if they had just been gobbled up for breakfast by Mrs Sparrowhawks babies.

The next morning I went outside, stepping carefully over the sad carpet of feathers wondering if I could con Hairy into sweeping them up because they were breaking my heart and I didn't want to do it.  I looked up on the roof to see if any of the little rotters had come home for breakfast (they still roost on the house opposite, more about that later) to see all six of them sitting there cheerfully awaiting breakfast.  I had to count them twice just to make sure I wasn't seeing things.  Then I noticed that a couple of them were preening and causing a flurry of feathers.  They are moulting!  All that worry for a moult!!

Hairy Hubby went over for a chat with the man who owns the house over the road that afternoon.  He does not live there, it's just his half a million pounds worth of waterfront holiday home.  He wants to live there but his wife won't (madwoman) so he has just sold it at auction.  His first words to Hairy were 'Have you lost one of your doves?'  Apparently there were feathers everywhere on his back door step!  Upon closer inspection there was also piles and piles of splatty dove poop.  To the degree that they have had to put a door mat down to cover it from house viewers eyes!  Oooops!  Maybe a canopy would be better incase said viewers look upwards and really get it in the eye!

My only worry now is what the new owners will think of having my six beloved white doves roost on their roof and splat all over their patio.  If I am really lucky they might just gently shoo them off and my wayward teens will come home to live again.  Worst case scenario is either they decide to build a dovecote for the lovely birds to live in or they harm them in some way to get rid of them.  In either case there will be hell to pay if they do.

We are off to buy some new chickens this space for more drama cos you can bet it won't be easy!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Goodnight Primrose, sleep well angel

We said goodbye to Primrose today.  She died in the night snuggled up in the rabbit hutch.  It wasn't a massive shock when I went to check on her this morning, I knew how ill she was last night.  It's still a bit of a shock though because of all my four ex batts she was the most robust and in the best condition.  She was the biggest bossiest girl in the flock, in the best condition and the undisputed Boss Chook.  I never expected that she would be the first one to leave us.

I just checked back on my calender and Primrose came to live with us 11 weeks ago today.  It seems a lot longer but it is there in black and white so it must be true.  That means she had 11 weeks of freedom after the hell of living in a cage her whole life.  11 weeks to scratch about and feel the sun on her back.  It wasn't long but I am glad I was able to give her that time.  I read recently that battery hens are only kept for 18 months before they are 'disposed of'.  That means Primrose was just one and a half years old, that's no age for a chicken.

My favourite memory of Primrose was the time I came indoors and found her in the doorway of my study.  The cheeky madam had wandered in for a nosey about.  When she saw me she legged it back down the hall but missed the kitchen doorway and ended up in the lounge where she led me a merry dance trying to catch her.  

She was the Boss Chook, no doubt about that.  She kept a close eye on all her ladies, making sure they all went to bed at night, sitting up until they had all climbed the ladder.  I remember one night Blossom was faffing about and wouldn't go up.  Primrose was sitting patiently waiting for her, almost falling asleep while she did.  She looked so relieved when Blossom finally went up and she could go to bed herself.

She wasn't all nice, she bullied poor Snowdrop to the point where she left home for a while.  It pleases me that they had made it up before Primrose died so they parted as friends.  She also put Action Dog in her place on many occasions, especially if there was food about.  She would peck Action Dog to make sure her ladies got all the food and the dog didn't steal any of it.  She was always submissive to me though, squatting down when I went to pet her and eating corn from my hand.  

We buried her in the wood today, wrapped in a yellow sheet to match the yellow ring she took her name from.  I am going to miss seeing her running accross the garden, wings flapping, trying to respond to my call as fast as possible.  I wonder who will keep everyone in order now she is gone.

Sleep well my angel.


Saturday, 16 July 2011

I'm not getting up tomorrow!

Its starting to get so I dread getting up in the morning.  It's been a horrible wet day which only let up at late afternoon when it was far too late to be of use.  I let the girls out as usual when I got up.  Which was far too early I have to say.  This letting the chooks out is knackering me.  I'm losing an hours sleep every day.  I don't function well on seven hours.  Last night I got about six.  Not good, at my age I need my beauty sleep!    Anyway, when I let them out Primrose was quiet, she didn't come out right away but as it was pouring with rain and I was still 90% asleep I let her have the lie in I would have loved to have had.  Later after a shower and some breakfast (my breakfast, I give them theirs when I get them up) I noticed that she was still quiet but was out under the Laurel tree with the others so I didn't think too much of it.  This afternoon she was very withdrawn.  Hunched, eyes closed in a corner and had loose stools.  To be honest she looked at deaths door.  Panic started to set in.  I brought her indoors to the summerhouse and put her into Snowdrops old rabbit hutch to keep her warm and dry.

I made an executive decision to give her some of Owlmomma's antibiotics.  I was seriously concerned that the soft egg she laid yesterday left some deposits inside her and turned nasty.  With the words 'Egg yolk peritonitis' ringing in my ears I brought her into the kitchen and jabbed her.  It was Snowdrop's needle but thats the only one I had so needs must and all that.  She lay in my lap motionless while I did it.  Bearing in mind that this is Boss Chook who is very feisty that was not good news at all.  She seemed in far worse shape than Snowdrop had been.  I also gave her a couple of millilitres of water by syringe because I've not seen her drink all day.  That woke her up!  She was not amused at all when I stuck they syringe down her throat and wriggled and squirmed.  She looked a bit brighter when I checked on her a little while ago but I could very well be clutching at straws.  She went and hid in the sleeping compartment which means she now hates me cos I did bad things to her.  At this rate they are all going to hate me cos I have done bad things to all of them now!

Add to all this the fact that I managed to put my watch through the washing machine while washing the jeans that Primrose pooped all down when she as having her meds it wasn't the best of days today.  There is some good news though, the doves are all fine but Esme is still sitting on her empty nest sporadically, Snowdrop seems fine, oh and I made a pukka chocolate cake!  But I am still not getting up tomorrow morning, I am having a day off from disasters and stay in bed all day eating my chocolate cake.  Ok so I don't mean it but I can dream can't I?

A  purely gratuitous flower pic just to end on something nice

Friday, 15 July 2011

State of play today

Snowdrop has been up and about all day.  She has rested a few times but as she is full of antibiotics thats not surprising, they make me feel like death warmed up too.  Actually I am allergic to most of them so am being really careful not to stick myself with the needle.  The worst one was when Action Dog was on them and I had to crush the tablets and pop them on her tongue.  It's the only way I can get tablets down her because she can't spit them out if they are powder.  Anyway, one night she sneezed as I put the dust on her tongue and I got a face full.  Oh was I paranoid that my face was going to swell up and I would look like Shrek.  Antibiotics are wonderful things but they just don't agree with me.  Anyway, I am waffling as usual and not getting to the point which is not good as this is only the first paragraph!  To sum it up I am feeling increasingly encouraged by Snowdrop's progress.  I didn't hear any sounds on her chest today but the washing machine was on and that might have masked it.  To be honest I am doing everything I can so I am feeling that ignorance is bliss and I don't want to know what her chest sounds like!

Primrose had some trouble this morning.  I noticed she had a bit of a runny bottom and that she had something nasty looking dangling from it.  I won't put anyone off their tea and describe it.  I went and got my rubber gloves (thank you to whoever invented them), grabbed her, tucked her under my arm and had a good look at the area in question.  What I found was a soft egg shell half in and half out of her vent.  I wasn't really sure whether to leave it alone to come away naturally but in the end I decided to gently pull and see if it came out, which it did.  It was all rather gory and a bit bloody, poor girl.  When I went to clean the coop I could see where she had laid the egg because there was some watery blood and the contents of the egg on the floor.  I was happy that it hadn't broken inside her because that would cause peritonitis and she would probably die.  At least now I know who is laying the other soft eggs.  I've ordered some Cod Liver Oil from my friendly local pet shop.  It's meant to help with calcium absorption.  Cross everything!

I was advised last night by Owlmomma to remove Esme's egg for her own good.  I felt like a baby thief when I dragged a kitchen chair down the the dovecote,  She looked me in the eye as I climbed up and made me feel even worse.  She didn't fly off when I slipped my hand underneath her into her nest (heck this is starting to sound like a bad porn story!) She didn't even peck me, just looked worried.  I took her warm little egg away and she just sat and watched me.  It was horrible.  I was shocked when I saw the egg.  It was tiny, half the size it should have been and the poor girl has sat on it hopefully for weeks trying to have a little baby.  Honestly the whole thing broke my heart.  To make absolutely sure I wasn't a child murderer I candled the egg, even though it was obvious there was no chick.  Unless she had stolen a blue tit's egg that is.  She is still sitting on the nest now.  If she doesn't get off in the next few days I will have to shoo her off and pull the nest itself out which will make me a home wrecker as well as a baby snatcher.

On the left, Esme's tiny egg.  On the right a dummy pigeon egg of the correct size.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A ray of hope

My little madam has been much more active today, out and about with the other girls, scratching and munching bugs.  She did go indoors once that I know of but it was pouring with rain so I don't blame her, I'd have gone in too if I had been out there!  It is certainly heartening to see her acting more normally even though I still have concerns about the sounds on her chest.  She hates having her injection but so far hasn't started running away from me when she sees me approaching with a towel to wrap her in!

Talking of the sounds on her chest I had a thought earlier.  I can't hear the noise at all when I am in the garden, even if she is in my arms.  You don't realise how noisy it is out there with the wind in the trees and the cars on the road at the front.  This gave me a slight ray of hope that maybe, just maybe she has always had a wheezy chest and I just didn't know about it.  Not ideal obviously but if the chest is normal for her then its not the cause of her being so withdrawn for the past few days.  That would mean that seeing her trolling around the garden as if she doesn't have a care in the world means she is getting better.  I may change my mind about all this tomorrow but at the moment its a happy thought and any happy thought is to be treasured!

The doves have been about more today, I think its due to the horrible wet cold weather.  That high roof is very exposed so they are probably much more comfortable in their nice sheltered garden.  I have said all along that they are like stroppy teenagers staying out late.  Eventually all stroppy teens realise there is no place like home and nothing like Mum's cooking.  

It's lovely to see the doves flying about and think to yourself that you knew them as little babies.  Especially Pinky because she was so tiny when I took her from her abandoned nest.  She still lets me pick her up and stroke her and has landed on my head a few times in the garden.  Daisy and May are a little more reserved but I made a point of making them more independent than I did with Pinky.  Sometimes I watch them fly and know they are doing it just for the pure joy of flying.  They swoop and dive like jet fighters, circling round the roof and over the trees.  They are getting on great with Harry, he is with them constantly.  Poor Esme I wonder what she thinks about her husband going off and leaving her with the egg.  I think I am going to have to take it away from her.  Unless she has laid another it has been far far too long and no way is it going to hatch.  The trouble is that she is always on the nest and I just don't have the heart to shoo her off and steal her little egg.  

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Snowdrop Update

My relief was short lived.  This morning Snowdrop didn't want to get up again.  She only came out when I poked my head through the nestbox hole to see where she was.  I took the opportunity to grab her and take her indoors to give her some calcium and antibiotics.  My first time injecting a chicken.  I'm not sure who enjoyed it least, her or me.  She wriggled and I cringed.  Actually it wasn't too bad for me, I found tube feeding Perky earlier this year much more scary, probably because he was so small and fragile.  Mind you I had to put the syringe for the calcium so far down her throat to miss her tongue hole it was almost like tube feeding, and no, she didn't enjoy that either.  I think my technique is not as practiced as Owlmomma's so it must have been like being treated by a junior doctor.  Poor Snowdrop.  What really worried me was that she seemed to have a click in her lungs and a little wheeze.  It wasn't there yesterday.  All I can say is thank goodness she is on antibiotics.

When I took her back to the coop area she had a few mouthfuls off food and went back to bed till early afternoon when she got up and wandered about the garden eating and scratching as if nothing had happened.  Also I couldn't hear a wheeze or a click.  I can't make it out.  She put herself to bed early again tonight.  It's obvious things are not right but I can't work out for the life of me what is going on.  Maybe its morning sickness?  

The lovely lady from Animal Tranquility sent her more Reiki today, I'm sure its that which is giving her the afternoon boost to come out and play.  She has been so kind and supportive, she has chickens herself and knows how much they mean to their owners.  The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

All the news, hot off the press!

Well its been all go here lately.  Some news in brief before the juicy bits.  

Snowdrop is sleeping with everyone else EVERY night now.  It may have helped that I kept the door locked on her rabbit hutch since she had that one sleepover!  The rabbit hutch annex has now been removed so things are permanent!

Blossom (aka Crazy Chook) is laying at last.  She only lays tiny eggs so far but they are eggs and things can only get better!

Hairy Hubby discovered that chopping down blackberry bushes is not a good idea if they have a wasp nest in them.  I have never seen him move so fast.  Much Piriton and antihistamine cream later he attacked the wasps in his own unique way using a can of fly spray with a nail banged in it.  He threw it like a grenade and ran like hell.  It worked though!

The big news is that my doves are free flying at last.  I took the net off on Sunday and hoped for the best.  It had been on for six weeks which is what the experts recommend but that didn't help me last time did it?  They sat for a while looking bemused until suddenly WHOOSH they all took off together and few about.  Pinky and Jed landed on my roof and stayed there all afternoon but typically Daisy, May and their new best friend Harry went and sat on the roof of the house opposite.  Is this sounding familiar yet?  They liked it so much they slept there for the night.  And the next night.  The little rotters only come home for something to eat!  They treat this place like a hotel!!  Admittedly the house opposite is worth half a million plus and has views of the Broad but thats not the point, the ungrateful little things!  Seriously though, although they roost over there they seem to spend the afternoons chilling out in the big Sycamore behind the dovecote and have played on my lawn a few times too.  And been chased off by Crazy Chook who seems to object to any bird being on HER grass especially if they are white like her.  I am hoping that they will soon realise the roof over the road is not as warm and comfy as their nice dovecote and come home at nights.  The dirty stopouts!

Snowdrop was poorly yesterday.  She wouldn't get out of bed and when she did she hid behind a flowerpot.  I had a feeling she was trying to lay one of her soft shelled eggs and looked up the treatment for eggbound hens.  This gave me a happy afternoon of bathing, steaming and rubbing olive oil into a chickens bum.  I found the latter a bit odd because I have rubbed olive oil into so many chickens bums but always eaten them afterwards.  But let's not go there...  Anyway this morning she wouldn't get up again till Rosie booted her out because she likes to have the whole place to herself when she lays her egg.  I think Rosie is the only one who lays every day actually.  I thought Snowdrop looked a bit more lively but she still went right back in the coop when Rosie came out so I popped her in a recycling box and took her off to The Haven with me.  Conveniently it was my regular day there anyway.  It makes a change for one of my birds to do something at a convenient time.  

Owlmomma gave her some oral Calcium and an antibiotic jab just incase.  She seemed a bit brighter after that and enjoyed ten minutes or so wandering round the hospital trying to terrorise Acorn the Little Owl who is so unbelievably cute that he has never had anyone be mean to him before in his life.  He actually spend half the day sitting on my foot playing with my shoes while I was working.  I kept expecting him to nip my toes but luckily for me he didn't, unlike Sid the Parakeet who tried to take a chunk out of my finger!  Anyway, I am waffling, I must get back to the point.  Now Snowdrop is home she seems pretty much back to normal.  She is walking round the garden with the others and feeding happily.  I have to say I am relieved.  I still have to give her Calcium drops once a day and (oh lucky me) an antibiotic jab for the next five days.  I can't say I am looking forward to that but after all my years or ear piercing and electrolysis I think I will cope.  Snowdrop was also lucky that an animal healer sent her lots of Reiki.  I am positive this helped her loads too.  How lucky am I to know kind people who will help my baby girl?

Crazy Chook, the poser

Snowdrop, aww bless!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Have I cracked it?

I had a shock waiting for me when I tucked my chooks up into bed the night before last.  Snowdrop's rabbit hutch was empty.  I momentarily panicked, where was she?  Had she gone off somewhere and got lost?  Had she been spirited away by a rustler?  After panic came logic.  I had a spark of an idea.  But surely not!  I tentatively opened the door of the big chicken coop and there she was.  Sitting happy as you like snuggled in with the other girls!  Honestly you could have knocked me down with a feather.  I was so happy it was like my prayers had been answered.  Little Snowdrop felt able to join in with the others again.  I had been thinking for a week or so now that maybe it might be a good time to try her back with the other girls but wasn't sure how to go about it.  Thankfully my little darling had made the choice for me.

Last night I sat out and watched as they started their bedtime preparations.  It's quite nice sitting in the garden in the evening with a can of cider and some incense burning.  Smothered in insect repellant naturally!  Rosie and Ivy went up the ladder first.  Blossom went up, came back down and faffed about as is her usual habit.  Snow drop sat mournfully by the closed door of her rabbit hutch looking very put out.  Occasionally she wandered up and down the length of her little home looking for a way in.  Me and my can of Strongbow felt very sorry for her and more than a little bit guilty.  Blossom went up again and stayed there.  Snowdrop stood up and toddled over to the ladder.  Would she or wouldn't she.  Primrose was feigning sleep so was not intimidating her which was good.  Finally after a tense five minutes Snowdrop climbed the ladder up to bed with the others.  This seemed to wake Primrose who followed up behind her.  My cup runneth over.  Have I cracked it?  I will see in a little while when I go to tuck them in for the night.  I do hope I will not be playing 'Hunt the Snowdrop' by torchlight later on this evening!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Not eggsactly what I had hoped for

The news isn't good.  Esme Lovey-Dovey has spent most of the day off her nest.  The egg isn't going to hatch.  I can't blame her not sitting there any longer, she has devoted several weeks of patient attention to her little egg, she must be sick and tired of sitting in that hole all alone.  I know that Harry is a new man since she came out.  He is with her all the time giving her love and attention.  He hasn't sat with the others at all today.  He must have been very lonely with Esme out of action.  Mind you I imagine thats the same excuse a lot of men use when they eye up other girls!  I am disappointed though, I had been hoping a new life would begin in my garden.  It would be nice to see my birds successfully raise a chick and see it fledge and grow up.  Other people have a problem with overbreeding, I just can't get the little rotters to hatch anything.  I have started to wonder whether they inbred too much at their old home.  It was a large flock but you could see the potential for a bit of incestuous behaviour.  Maybe that's why dear little Perky was a sickly lad.  

My little flock of chooks seem to be pulling together more as a group.  Snowdrop is hanging out with the others much more regularly.  I am hoping that maybe next week I will start popping her in to sleep with the others once it's dark.  I'd like her to get used to sleeping with them before winter sets in, I think she will be cold in her rabbit hutch all alone.  Primrose and Rosie do still have a peck at her every now and again but it's not bullying like it was, it's more keeping order.  They do it to Blossom too.  Mind you so does Snowdrop! 

 The Hairy One is on about getting some more birds from one of his customers.  As much as I would like more I still have reservations.  It's me who has to deal with the chaos not him.  He says I am too softhearted, which is probably true but these chooks do have a mind of their own and you have to account for that.  Probably this time next week I will be posting pics of my new birds, I usually cave in and do what he wants.  Plus it's ever so tempting!  

Here come the girls...a purely gratuitous chook pic!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

One egg is confirmed!

I saw Mrs Esme Lovey-Dovey off her nest today.  Twice.  The first time she was on top of the dovecote flirting with Harry.  I thought at first that Daisy had got out again but when I started walking down to check who was up there she flew quickly back to her nest.  How awful that I had immediately thought it was Harry flirting with other women, as if he would do such a thing.  Oh, yes, ok he is an awful flirt so that was the most likely scenario.  

The second time I saw her she was on the bird table feeding.  I have to say I was really glad to see that because I have not seen her leave the nest to feed for weeks.  Common sense tells me she must have or she would be dead by now but I don't know when she does it.  I took the opportunity to have a peek at her nest and  I am happy to confirm there is one egg in there.  She had been on there so long I was thinking there might be some babies but a lonely egg was all I saw.  

These two sightings started me thinking that maybe she was going to give up on her brooding but she has been back sitting all day again.  I still suspect the egg may be no good because it really has been weeks.  HH and I have been discussing when she started sitting, he thinks its less time than me.  I really wish I had kept up the garden diary I started in January.  I suppose if there were some significance to her being off her nest could mean either that the egg is going to hatch soon or that she is starting to have doubts about it as I first thought.  Knowing my birds its the latter.  Only time will tell!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Two dramas in one day!

It's been quite a day today.  It started with our Grandaughter shouting that Action Dog had run off into the woods.  What she didn't mention right away was that she was chasing Blossom the new white chicken.  We managed to call Action Dog back but there was no sign of poor Blossom who appeared to have run off into the woods in panic.  I found out later that the kids had been following her round the garden trying to stroke her so probably when Action Dog decided to chase her it was the final straw and she ran like the wind.

We searched everywhere but couldn't find her despite the fact that she is very large and pure white.  I kept worrying that she would have run right into the depths of the forest and never find her way home.  We warned Farmer Dan and The Gamekeeper to look out for her and went out for an hour to get some shopping.

When we came home she still had not come back in the garden.  In my typical daft style I started asking the other chooks 'Where's Blossom?'  As soon as she heard my voice the one and only Blossom came running at top speed out of the undergrowth and up to the little bit of fence behind the Chicken Housing Estate.  I was so pleased not only to get her back but also to know that she knew my voice and even though she runs away from me obviously knew I meant safety and home.  It took a few more minutes and a jug full of corn to show her the way back into the garden but thank heavens she is now home and safe.

We thought that was enough drama for one day but no, The Chooks had other ideas.  After a very heavy shower which sent them all running for cover little Snowdrop was nowhere to be found.   We were all searching the garden but she was nowhere to be seen.  Only in this house could two chooks go missing in one day!  In a flash of inspiration I thought 'surely she can't have got stuck behind my butler sinks?'  I have four butler sinks on my patio with herbs growing in them.  When we first got the chooks Rosie tried to get behind them and got into a pickle and had to be rescued.  As I approached, calling Snowdrop's name I heard some quiet clucking.  It sounded so pathetic I knew it had to be her.  She has a very sweet pathetic little voice and I always know it's her behind me when I hear it.  Sure enough the soppy bird had managed to get herself well and truly wedged behind a butler sink.  She is the only one who is small enough to fit in there.  I can only think she dived in there in panic with the rain.  This is the first time they have ever seen real rain.  Even using two hands I couldn't prise her out so I had to call Hairy Hubby to sift the sinks to get her out.

She seems fine now but wasn't very happy when I first got her out, she looked very sorry for herself.  I think she had been behind there at least an hour.  I gave her a cuddle and took her over to the food and in true style she scoffed for England!  So now I have to go round checking for all places in the garden where a scared chicken could get stuck.  Honestly I think I have the most complicated, accident prone birds ever!

Monday, 13 June 2011


I will never understand my chooks.  All this time little Snowdrop has gone to bed in her own private rabbit hutch quarters.  Usually a bit before everyone else.  She just sneaks off quietly and puts herself to bed.  Then the others go up into their penthouse suite together a bit later.

Last night it was pouring with rain.  When I looked out of the window to see how bedtime was proceeding and if it was time for me to go and lock them all in I saw that Snowdrop had as usual put herself to bed but that both Rosie and Ivy were in the outer section of the rabbit hutch des res sheltering from the rain.  This was odd behaviour for a start but to make it even stranger Rosie was peering in at Snowdrop in bed.  Were they jealous of her private little house?  Were they doing it to annoy her?  What would I find when I went to lock them in for the night?

What I found was Snowdrop and Ivy both in Snowdrop's bedroom settled down for the night.  They weren't snuggled up together but they were fairly close cos there isn't that much space in a rabbit hutch.  They looked cosy so I left them to it and shut them away.  I wonder if Rosie would have stayed there too if there had been more room.  I think Ivy outranks Rosie by being Boss Chook Primrose's best friend.  Ivy doesn't chase Snowdrop nowadays, it's only Primrose and Rosie does when she feels like being annoying.  

I'm not sure Snowdrop was too amused about the situation in the morning.  When I went to let them all out Ivy was up and about on the outer part of the hutch (where Snowdrop usually is) but little Snowdrop was still in her bedroom, only coming out when she heard my voice.  I wonder whether Ivy will sleep there again tonight or decide to go back to her friends.  I have visions of going to put them away tonight and finding them all crammed into Snowdrop's little home and Snowdrop either in the corner looking very put out or in the main coop all alone having lost her home.  We shall see!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The cute, the bad and the cheeky!

Yesterday was quite eventful.  Typically because I wasn't able to get on here and update right away I have forgotten  half of it!

We had a little visitor yesterday morning.  He wasn't totally welcome but he was very sweet.  A little baby squirrel not long out of the nest.  We had one at The Haven a few weeks ago who wasn't much younger.  He held is little baby bottle of milk with his tiny hands.  So sweet.  Still don't really want him in my garden though because he will just grow bigger and become another or the legions who eat all my doves seed.  They are costing me a fortune but more to the point my doves wake up to no breakfast!

The other adventure of the day was coming in from the garden to find that Primrose Chook had decided to come indoors for a nose about.  Honestly those chooks are so nosey and she is the worst.  I have caught them just inside the back door before and once I found Primrose in the kitchen but she had wandered right into the house and was having a good poke about.  She took one look at me and knew she was in trouble so ran back down the hall, past the kitchen and into the Lounge.  We had a lovely game of chase the chook round the room and under the table till I managed to shoo her out into the conservatory and back into the garden.  Cheeky Madam!

Last night after dark our side floodlight came on.  I shot over to the window because last time it happened there was a Hedgehog (the vicious variety which stalk HH) was running across the lawn.  This time however the visitor was not so welcome.  It was a large black cat, the first I have seen in the garden since moving in.  I wasn't amused at all because my doves are under a net and if Mr Moggy decides to play with them they have nowhere to escape to.   Rather worrying I think.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Updating all the drama and gossip

Oh dear life became so complicated with Doves and latterly with Chooks that I got so behind with my blog that catching up seems like an enormous task.  I will go for a very brief (you hope) review of recent events and dramas to bring things up to speed.

Firstly, Pinky.  Pinky wasn't very happy outside all alone, she just wanted to come back indoors and be with me so I let her.  The plan being that I would bring Daisy and May home and release them all together.  They got on very well flying round my study (and pooping all over it) but one day I realised that Pinky wasn't looking too well so I took her into The Haven to let the expert have a look at her.  We have no idea why but she wasn't eating and looked run down.  I have jokingly called her anorexic but she was refusing to eat for no aparent reason.  She stayed at The Haven a few weeks where Owlmomma hand fed her again until she was stronger.  In that time she found herself a boyfriend.  Another young dove who had been Sparrowhawked.  She moved in with him and brightened up a lot.  To cut a very long story short she is now living in my garden under a homing net with her boyfriend who I have called Jed.  She seems healthy and is eating well but I noticed yesterday she is losing feathers on her face.  I have no explanation and am rather worried but am praying its just a moult.

Daisy and May.  They are living outside under the net with Pinky and Jed.  They have been out about a fortnight longer and seem to be doing very well.  I had a bit of a drama today when Daisy managed to get out of a hole in the net where Butterfly the Squirrel (cheers mate) had chewed his way in or out but after a couple of hours outside and a bit of a fly around she seemed very pleased to get back in the net with her sister.  She was trying vainly to get through the mesh when I scooped her up and popped her back inside.

Mr & Mrs Lovey-Dovey.  This lovely pair now have first names.  They are now known as Harry and Esme.  Harry bless him has spent the last three days or so breaking INTO the homing net.  Yup, most other birds try to escape but Harry (Houdini) just keeps scrambling in through that dratted Butterfly's holes.  I don't really mind but Esme is sitting on eggs, or maybe chicks and if he vanishes off round the corner and into the net she will abandon them.  Personally I think he has a crush on May.  He seems very interested in her.  Poor Esme.  Oh and she is called Esme because he is Harry Houdini and I used to have next door neighbours called Harry and Esme so named the birds in their honour.

On to the Chickens.  Chicken Towers finally got finished and I went and collected four ex-battery hens from Little Hen Rescue.  They have very different personalities and a little story each so I will introduce them individually.

First there is Primrose.  She is the Boss Chook.  She keeps everyone in line including other birds who land in the garden and poor little Lizzy dog.  She scared Lizzy so badly earlier this week that she ran out of the garden, through Farmer Dan's yard, out into the street and up the road.  Luckily a kind lady spotted her, stopped her car and grabbed her.  I shudder to think what could have happened if she hadn't.  I now have to be extra careful to make sure where Lizzy is.  I think the problem was that The Hairy One was outside with her and when he came in the chooks were by the door so Lizzy was scared to go past them and got chased away.  So I have to make sure she is always with me when I go indoors.  I can't say I am happy about the situation.

Then there is Ivy.  She is a lovey girl but has a wheeze.  She is very good friends with Primrose and I like to think of her as the Lieutenant of the group.  When she lays eggs they are long and thin!

Next is Rosie.  She is in much poorer condition than Primrose and Ivy, she has a bald bum and raggedy wings.  At first she was very easy to handle but after she developed a limp and I had to give her medicine by dropper twice a day she now runs a mile if I try to touch her.  Poor love thinks I am going to do bad things to her like wrap her in a towel and hold her between my knees while sticking stuff down her throat.

Last of the ex-batts is my darling Snowdrop.  I shouldn't have a favourite but she really is a little darling.  She is much smaller than the others and in very poor nick.  Her whole belly and bum are bald and most of her other feathers are knackered.  The others bullied her so much in the first couple of weeks that she decided she couldn't sleep with them any more and went off alone to roost in the porch of my summerhouse.  It broke my heart to see.  She is now sleeping alone in a rabbit hutch so Chicken Towers has now become a Chicken Housing Estate.  I tried to get her a little friend to boost her confidence which sort of backfired (will explain that in a mo) but in a way seems to have helped because she is trotting round the garden on her rickety little legs a bit more this week.  Snowdrop lays jelly eggs every few days.  They are perfectly formed but with a very soft jelly shell.  I understand this is due to lack of calcium so am trying to build her up with supplements.  I read that trying to lay a soft egg is rather like pushing a balloon full of water down a drain pipe so it can't be pleasant for her.  The past few days her jelly eggs have had a bit of blood on the shell and I think its where she is straining to lay them.

The latest addition to my chook flock is Blossom.  She is a 17 week old pure bred Light Sussex hen.  I bought her as a young friend for Snowdrop.  Unfortunately Snowdrop beat her up as soon as she saw her and Blossom flew out of the run and hid in the wood.  I can't say I blame her really cos Snowdrop had blood on her claws!  I managed to trap Blossom in the main chook run a couple of stressful hours later.  That run has a roof so I left her in there for just over a week to learn where she lives and today have let her out to roam with the others.  She is very nervous of them even though the only ones who chase her are Snowdrop (who does not live with her cos she is in the rabbit hutch) and Primrose who chases everyone who isn't Rosie or Ivy.  I'm hoping bedtime is not too stressful tonight.  Usually Blossom hangs around in the run scared to go in the coop so heaven knows what will happen now she is free.  I do hope she doesn't roost in a tree!

So there you have it, all the latest.  I have no doubt missed half of it out and will have to do another update but at least I have got the gist of it down on cyber paper.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Joys of Spring!

I have been so preoccupied with my Doves recently that I have forgotten to mention how lovely it is in the garden now Spring has sprung!  When I was planning to write my last entry I had intended to talk about how I heard my first Cuckoo of the year while standing in the garden with Pinky on my shoulder.  I also forgot to mention what a gorgeous day it was, the sun was shining and the garden seemed full of bees and butterflies.  Today it is overcast out there but the sun is up there, just blocked out by some annoying clouds.  It will return soon.  Oh I just looked out and it is raining!  The first rain in weeks so I will try and look on the bright side and hope it fills my water butts, which are numerous, so that I can water my herbs and seedlings with rainwater and thus avoid the daylight robbery which calls itself my water meter!

When the sun is out, which has been a lot recently the garden really is full of bees and butterflies.  I have been trying to educate the Grandkids that bees are harmless unless you annoy them and that our planet cannot survive without them.  I have explained about pollination in great detail but they still either run away screaming when they see on (which is often as we have tons of them) or try and kill them with a stick when they think I am not looking.  We are also blessed with lots of butterflies.  I have so far seen Orange Tip, Comma, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Brimstone and Peacock.  I am sure the copious amounts of Stinging Nettles and Brambles help attract them.  Hairy Hubby is always keen to strimmer them but I have saved them so far.  

Speckled Wood

Another creature we have in the hundreds is St Marks fly.  They are the most strange looking things which fly with their legs dangling and to me look like black fairies buzzing around the garden.  They don't harm anyone but in the qualities we have them they can be annoying.

A pretty bad pic of a Long Tailed Tit but it gives a good indication of the volume of St Marks fly!

There have also been lots of plants coming up, Lesser Celandine, Red Campion and Vetch although I have yet to research which type.  My wonderful Laurel tree has been blooming.  I love my Laurel tree, it is always green and lush and the birds love to sit in it before they go onto the feeders.  This does have the drawback of many of the leaves being covered in guano but for me it's a small price to pay.  I think Hairy Hubby would like to take a bottle of Dettol and a steam cleaner to it but luckily we can't afford the water!  My Bluebells finally made an appearance, they poked their little heads up just in time for lawnmower man to run them down.  Honestly that man, you have to go round the garden pointing stuff out to him every time he gets behind the wheel, he is a menace!

The leaves have really grown on the trees this past week and the wood looks dark and lush again.  The drawback is that with leaves on the trees it is much harder to see what is lurking amidst their branches.  I have noticed that the birds are eating much less seed now Spring is here, it is saving me a fortune.  I have also been putting out dog hair for them to use as nesting materials.  I find it very satisfying to sit and watch them come down and grab mouthfuls of hair to make their babies comfy.  It's not often you see a Bearded Great Tit!  I do also empty our own hairbrushes onto the grass but I notice the birds don't like The Hairy One's old hair much.  I can't think why.....