Bedtime routine

Since the weather has changed the bedtime routine has changed and not for the better! Emerald and Speckles have taken to perching over the hatch at bedtime. Emerald settles there first and then Speckles joins her.

The little girls gather around the pop hole to go in or if I go up later they will have perched inside but Emerald and Speckles show no sign of going in. They always used to go in first and were followed by the little girls. I really think that if I didn’t move them they would stay out for the night. I am not happy about that!

I move them from the perch to the table and then shepherd them towards the chicken shed. Emerald goes in first followed by Speckles. It is a pain having to do this every night and I worry that if we were ever away overnight they wouldn’t go in. I can’t understand why they have suddenly started doing this.

Emerald and Speckles perch here at bedtime

Speckles comb is amazing

I shepherd them towards the chicken shed

They trot off like naughty children looking a bit sheepish. I am sure they know that I don’t want them to do this. I just hope that I can break this habit. I think I will try moving them a bit earlier and see if I can get them back to going in first.

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It feels like spring at last

Today the sun shone and for the first time this year it felt spring like. The girls enjoyed sitting in the sun and at one point Freckles was dust bathing in a shaft of sunlight. She looked as if it was so blissful that she was dozing as Emerald looked on.

Freckles dozes in a sun filled dust bath

It was so lovely that for the first time this year we felt like visiting the garden centre. The squirrels have had most of our crocus and between the squirrels and the bad weather our bulbs are dismal this year apart from the miniature daffodils which seem to survive anything.

You can often get a bargain at this time of year on bulbs in pots. Because they are past their best they get reduced but it’s a great way to be able to plant while you can see what you are getting and they will be at their best again next spring.

At the first garden centre we bought three large pots of crocus and tulips that were reduced from nine pounds to three so three for the price of one. I felt quite pleased with this.

The second garden centre on our route didn’t have anything I wanted. Then we swung by our local D.I.Y. store and the pots of bulbs were reduced to as little as sixty pence. I was like a kid in a sweet shop and got a whole collection for under six pounds.

Pots of crocus and tulips

Hyacinths, crocus and miniature daffs

My bargain collection

An injection of spring colour in the garden

I bought the three different colours of hyacinths that were there. There was only one colour of crocus but that’s better than nothing and I added one pot of miniature daffs as they were so cheap plus the pot of tulips which I split into two lots.

I planted them all around the garden giving lovely splashes of spring colour. It is so good to feel spring like at last.

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The first day of spring

Today is the first day of spring believe it or not. Yesterday our spring flowers looked like this. Today the paths are clear but there is still snow on the garden.

Miniature daffodils peeping through the snow

What a winter this has been. It has felt like a really long winter and much harsher than most years. There have been times when I really felt that Dandelion wasn’t going to come through this but she has hung on in there.

The bigger girls have given up laying since this last cold spell and Only Freckles and Cinnamon have continued to lay. Speckles last laid a week ago but Freckles and Cinnamon have continued to lay every other day and Freckles two days running a couple of days ago.

This time last year I was struggling to get the three amigos (Dandelion, Cinnamon and Apricot) integrated. We collected them on the twenty fifth of February and by this time I was hand feeding them dishes of mash and had temporarily put water bottles at the top of the ladders as I was worried that they were being kept away from the food and water.

There is no way, this year, that I would dream of adding new girls to the flock in this sort of weather. It shows what a different sort of winter we have had compared to last year. At the end of February last year I felt the weather had warmed up enough to add new girls. This year it will be a while yet before I consider it warm enough to add new girls.

I just hope that we are finally through with the really cold weather and that spring is truly on it’s way at last.

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It’s worming time again

I worm the girls twice a year, in September and March, so worming time has come round again. I use flubenvet powder which needs to be given for seven consecutive days.

I have in the past added the powder to various treats but eventually I found that the most simple way to give it is in dishes of mash. I make up three small dishes of mash and sprinkle the powder on top then mix it in a bit.

The girls all equally love the mash and all quickly get a share. By the end of the day all the mash is gone so I know that all the flubenvet has been consumed.

I took these photos a few days ago as it is now day four of worming. The snow came along and those posts needed to go out while they were relevant whereas the worming is following this same pattern for seven days.

Worming the girls

Three dishes but this one is clearly favourite.

Three dishes of mash with flubenvet powder mixed in

Speckles tries the next dish.

The girls play musical dishes

Suddenly all the dishes are popular. There is a bit of chasing round but eventually as the novelty wears off the girls settle down and they all a get share.

The funny thing was that later in the day the first dish was empty then later still the second dish then by the end of the day the third dish was empty. Instead all of the dishes going down equally they disappear one dish at a time.

I don’t care what order they eat from the dishes as long as all the girls get a share. For me this is the easiest way of worming the girls. I think they rather enjoy having mash for a week.

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Snow on Sunday morning

It snowed all day yesterday but it was wispy and blowing around and so didn’t settle. By the evening though the freezing temperature had allowed it to settle. I took a photo from our front window of our vans during the evening.

Our vans last night

We must have had more snow during the night because this was the same view this morning.

Our vans this morning

The garden table by our back door

I measured the snow on this table and it was two inches.

The back garden

The garden has disappeared under the snow

The table next to the chicken run

The chicken’s water was frozen so I took it indoors and defrosted it under the hot tap. The chicken’s automatic door hadn’t opened because the snow on their patio roof had made it really dark. I let the girls out then dug the run over as it was covered in snow.

I left the chicken shed door open but the girls wouldn’t come to the patio area as it was too dark and they headed for the small shelter.

I got the step ladder out and cleared the patio roof as best as I could to let in some light. Once it was light the girls came to the patio area and had a good scratch about in the chicken shed.

By late morning there was some sunshine and everything was starting to thaw.

Signs of spring underneath the snow

The snow was dropping away and revealing spring flowers underneath. The problem now is that it is forecast to drop in temperature to minus one by four o’clock this afternoon and the remaining snow will freeze.

We will have to be really careful on the paths but tomorrow it is due to start warming up again. Hopefully this will mean that the remainder of the snow will disappear tomorrow and we can get back to normal again.

I really hope this is the last of it for this year. I am sure that we are all saying roll on spring!

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Another cold spell

Yesterday it snowed on and off all day and the temperature barely got above freezing. The girls spent most of the day in the shelters. I left the chicken shed door open for most of the day but they weren’t interested preferring the shelters.

Speckles and the little girls spend time in the small shelter

Cinnamon can just be seen behind Speckles

Emerald is in the large shelter

I felt sorry for Emerald on her own in the large shelter. It’s a bit of a squeeze for the bigger girls in the small shelter and Emerald rarely ever uses it.

Speckles has left the small shelter to join Emerald

I was quite pleased to see Speckles join Emerald and keep her company in the large shelter.

Speckles has joined Emerald in the large shelter

Emerald was preening the tiny feathers on her legs and I had to wait for her to finish by which time Speckles had dozed off.

Speckles dozes next to Emerald

I am glad that this cold spell is only forecast to last for a couple of days because I think that the girls are as fed up of this weather as we are.

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The favourite egg laying spot

Freckles and Cinnamon are laying their eggs at virtually the same time at the moment. This causes the usual mayhem that comes from them both wanting to lay in the same spot.

The current favourite spot is the corner of the chicken shed. The shed is big enough that you would think that they could sit side by side in the same corner. But no! That is not acceptable. They both want the corner to themselves.

Yesterday Freckles settled in the corner first. Cinnamon did a lot of shouting and stood watching over Freckles.

Cinnamon wants Freckles spot

As Freckles is top girl I was surprised to see that Cinnamon managed to usurp Freckles from her spot much to Freckles annoyance.

I don’t know how she managed it but Cinnamon got Freckles spot

I lifted Cinnamon to see if she was sat on Freckles egg because I was so surprised that Freckles had given up her spot. There was no egg. Cinnamon is a very determined little girl.

Freckles was not happy about this

Freckles was shouting but I couldn’t capture it because every time I opened the shed door she stopped. She was however stretched to her full height.

One very cross girl

A very cross girl comes to the pop hole to see me. I was busy for a while but my husband went to check on them and there were Cinnamon’s and Freckles eggs side by side in the corner of the shed.

So much drama at egg laying time, with so much space to choose from, but such determined little girls. All was quiet once more and two more eggs added to the egg rollers. Sigh!

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A week’s eggs

It is so nice not to need to buy eggs any more. The girls are now laying enough eggs for all our egg needs even when eating several at a time. We had our lovely eggs for breakfast last weekend and now have another eleven on the egg roller.

A week’s eggs

It is so lovely to have an abundance of eggs once more and our own eggs are so much nicer than shop bought eggs. Well done girls!

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Spring is sort of on it’s way

Spring is so late this year. The miniature daffodils are finally in full flower but the standard size daffs still have tight buds.

Miniature daffodils

After a much milder spell of weather it is forecast to be cold again for the weekend with a daytime temperature of one degree and some snow on Sunday. The forecast is just for the weekend (typical!) and then will rise again back to how it has been recently.

Spring has taken it’s time getting started this year!

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Raging hormones in the garden as well as the chicken run

We have woodland behind the top of our garden and always have loads of birds visiting the garden. We always have a resident pair of robins and dunnocks as well as a range of tit’s, blue tits, great tits, coal tits and long tailed tits. We have many other birds but we also have a lot of blackbirds.

Like robins, blackbirds, are territorialĀ  and at the moment we appear to have a couple of males and four females which is rather a lot for one garden. For months now the females have been chasing each other around the garden. They chase each other over the cabin roof, the chicken run roof, the top of the fence and all around the garden.

We have seen them go into our bay tree with twigs and a nest has been built in there. After this I saw something that I hadn’t seen before. I think up until now the battle was to gain the territory but now the battle is probably to keep the territory now that a nest has been built. The level of aggression has been raised.

I was in the chicken run a few days ago when I heard a commotion. Two female blackbirds were on the patio area outside the chicken run and there was a brutal battle going on. It reminded me a bit of chicken behaviour. One female had another female pinned down beneath her and was pecking at the back of her head while the other flapped and struggled. Eventually the one being held down struggled free and flew off with the other in hot pursuit.

Yesterday the same thing happened again on the patio area outside our cabin. The battle looked brutal and was prolonged. I went indoors for my camera and took some photos. They were so engrossed that I was able to get close without them taking any notice of me. It looked brutal but I am guessing it probably looked worse than it was.

When my girls fight I break them up but as blackbirds are wild birds I felt it best to leave them to sort it out and once again the one being attacked flew off unharmed with the attacker in pursuit.

Female blackbirds having a battle

Battling blackbirds

The photos are blurred due to vast amount of movement but you can get the gist. They moved all the way around the flower pot joined together.

Nest box in the bay tree

Nest in the bay tree

I think the wooden nest box may have been filled by the robins and the nest above was made by the blackbirds. I think there is a possibility that this nest may be abandoned because of all the aggression between the females. We will have to wait and see and I will report back at a later date. Spring hormones are definitely raging.

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