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!