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.