Self seeded foxgloves

Every year our foxgloves self seed around the garden. Some of them turn up in the veg plot and I transplant them around the garden. Most of them are a dark pink colour but just a couple of this years are a lovely delicate pale pink. This one is in a shady spot so didn’t reach the height of the rest but I think that just adds to it’s delicacy.

Foxglove

Foxglove

I know these two photos look very similar but I was experimenting with taking them in different lights and then I couldn’t decide which one I liked best.

This is my favourite colour of foxglove.

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An even hotter day

Today was even hotter than yesterday. It is now the hottest June day for forty years. It’s as hot as the memorable summer of 1976. I remember it well as it was the year I did my exams.

It was 95 degrees f (34.5 degrees c). My husband took a photo of the temperature gauge in his van.

Today’s temperature

Mid morning Emerald was sitting in the shade where it was still damp from me soaking it last night. That gave me an idea and I took several watering cans full of water and soaked all the areas in the shade. I also soaked the inside and outside of the wooden shelter and the patio area.

I thought this would keep all Emerald’s favourite, shady, areas damp and cool.

The girls all gathered in the first corner that I dampened

The girls in the foreground are busy preening

The girls gather in another dampened corner

Emerald has pins above her missing tail feathers

They have all taken turns in the damp shelter

In the afternoon I gave them a dish of peas in cold water again. Emerald had her beak open once more and came straight to the dish of peas. She picked out some ice granules as well as the peas which must have helped to cool her down.

Tomorrow it is forecast to cool down a bit. I like the sun but this is too hot even for me. I think we will all be glad when it cools down a bit.

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It’s very hot here

The last few days have been 90 degrees f (32 degrees c) which is unusually hot for us. It’s the hottest June for twenty years and the hottest days of the year so far.

The one thing I have learned recently is that seramas don’t mind the heat at all. They originate from Malaysia so are a breed that have been used to heat. I worried when they would sit in the sun in the middle of the day with their beaks open. “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” so the expression goes and I can now add seramas to that.

I am not going to worry about them any more as it is their choice to sit in the sun. Emerald and Speckles have been spending their days in the shade while the seramas continue to go about their business in the sun completely unfazed.

Shade in the chicken run

Luckily the run is in a good position for hot weather. The chicken shed is shaded by the huge trees at the back of our property so it never has any sun on it.

The left side of the run is shaded above the roof by trees and below the roof by shrubs so there is always shade on half of the run. Emerald and Speckles sit in the shade here.

Emerald and Speckles sit in the shade

Shade giving shrubs in the chicken run

Rusty found a new place to perch

I gave the girls some peas in the afternoon to cool them a bit and this time I left them in the dish.

Peas are now acceptable from a dish

The girls have the peas from a dish

Emerald has her beak open

By the end of the day Emerald was perched with her beak open. Her black feathers don’t reflect the sun as much as the other girls and she seems to feel the heat the most.

I took in a watering can and soaked all the perches, the wooden blocks, the metal table and the patio area. I hoped this would help to cool things a little.

At bedtime the little girls went in but Emerald and Speckles stayed out on the perch at the end of the run. I don’t want them down there at night where possible predators would be able to see them. Although we have made our run predator proof I don’t want to leave the girls where they could be seen at night and tempt a predator to test the run.

I lifted them from the perch and put them in the shed but I left the shed door half open and I tipped another can of water over the patio area.  I hoped this would let in cool air to make them more comfortable.

By lunch time today Emerald had her beak open once more. I decided to try the frozen peas in a dish of cold water once more and see if that would help cool her down.

Peas in a dish of cold water

The girls are now willing to take the peas from the cold water. I hope this helps hydrate them at the same time as cooling them.

Emerald is moulting heavily and has now lost her middle tail feather as you can see the photo above.

The girls gather around the dish of cold water and peas

They will now take the peas from the water

I will continue with this regime while the temperature stays at 90. I hope it won’t be for too many days. It’s forecast to drop a bit after midweek.

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Little girl’s eggs

At the moment we have just the little girls laying. They are all laying approximately every other day. Below are the last six day’s eggs.

A full egg ramp of serama eggs

Rusty’s and Freckles eggs are round and beige. Cinnamon’s are oval and beige. Dandelion and Apricot’s are oval and white.

Above the ramp is Apricot’s egg on the left and Rusty’s egg on the right

Rusty lays the biggest eggs and Apricot lays the smallest eggs. I love that even with these little girls the eggs are all different.

We just love our little girl’s eggs.

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Emerald is moulting

Emerald is dropping feathers all around the run. There are lots of feathers under her roost spot each morning.

Emerald’s feathers under her roost spot

Emerald’s feathers

Her under feathers, the one on the left, now have a lot of white on them. Her outer feathers, the one in the middle and on the right, are black with an emerald (hence her name) and purple sheen.

As she is getting older her under feathers are more streaked with white. I think it is like us getting grey hair as we age. Emerald has more white streaks on her feathers each year. I find this quite interesting.

Emerald is starting to look a bit tatty

Emerald

She is still a beautiful girl.

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Now we know we do like peas

Yesterday was the hottest day this summer so far and this time Rusty, and, Dandelion and Cinnamon were in the sun with their beaks open. This is my first summer of having seramas and I am beginning to think that they like the sun so much that they are willing to get hot in the sun while at the same time cooling themselves through their beaks.

I know that chickens cool themselves through their open beaks in the same way that dogs pant when they are hot. My past experience with chickens has been of them doing this when overheating despite finding some shade. Seramas choose to sit in the sun and do this.

I did a bit of research on this and it concluded that some birds will seek shade while others will choose to sit in the sun. It said that some birds simply like it hot. I think that probably sums up seramas.

Rusty, open beaked in the sun, again

Dandelion and Cinnamon doing the same

Seeing them with eyes glazed and beaks open does unsettle me but they choose to do this while the rest of the flock sit in the shade.

I decided to try giving them some peas once more. I guess I will have to let them choose if they want to bake in the sun, after all I do the same myself sometimes, but I thought that a distraction wouldn’t go amiss.

I tipped the peas onto the patio and there was no hesitation this time.

The girls come to investigate

There is no hesitation in eating the peas this time

All the girls join in eating the peas

I think that they have decided that they do like peas

They have got over their distrust of the peas and have decided that they do like them. I think they would take them from the dish now as a few girls were looking in the dish that I had emptied on to the patio.

I think I will have to get used to trusting that the seramas are okay in the sun, even though they look hot, with their beaks open. The seramas are all laying eggs every other day so are obviously happy. Even after six years of chicken keeping I am still finding out new things and each breed is quite different.

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Sharing treats

I love the harmony in the flock as it is now. When I throw out some sunflower hearts the girls happily peck at them together.

The flock are all together

Finding the sunflower hearts

I love to see them sharing like this without any chasing. They are such a lovely flock.

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The girls have some cooling peas

We are going through a bit of a heat wave at the moment and yesterday was particularly hot and sunny all day.

A few times I checked on the girls and found Rusty like this.

Rusty in the sun

It would be easy to be quite alarmed because that open beak would usually be a sign that they are overheating and trying to cool themselves through their beak but the thing with Rusty is that every time I moved her to the shade she would spring back to a patch of sun and do this again. She is spreading her wings to the sun. There is plenty of shade in the run but she is choosing to sit in a patch of sun.

I have to remind myself that seramas originate from Malaysia where their breed were used to heat and surely she would know if she was getting too hot. However I decided to distract her and cool all the girls down by offering them a dish of peas.

I put frozen peas in a dish of water so that they were defrosted but the peas and the water were still cold. I have done this in the past to cool the girls in hot weather. They get cold peas and some cold water with them.

This is the first time I have done this since I have had the little girls though and new things can be a bit scary.

Rusty stretched her neck to examine the peas

She was plucking up the courage to try one

She takes one I put on the patio

Speckles also takes one from the patio

Only Emerald took the peas from the dish

Emerald was happy to take the peas from the dish

Freckles takes a look but was also only happy to take them from the patio

Apricot takes them from the patio too

Apricot taking peas from the patio

Dandelion and Cinnamon take peas from the patio too

My previous girls were happy to take the peas from a dish of water but it seems not these girls. As only Emerald was happy with this I wonder if it is because she remembers this from before.

I emptied out the water from the dish but the little girls still didn’t want to take the peas from the dish. I gave in and tipped the peas on to the patio and gradually they all got eaten.

These girls are so funny about how they like things. In future I will just sprinkle the peas on the patio. I think it helped cool them down a bit though.

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Sprouting apple tree

We cut down the apple tree in the chicken run a few years ago. It had got much too big for the run. Since then it has sprouted and then been nibbled away again. The sprouting leaves have never had a chance to grow before being pecked at.

This year however it is sprouting and surviving. I am amazed! I don’t know why it hasn’t been pecked.

Sprouting apple tree

It would be quite nice to retain a little green in the run at a lower level. I just can’t work out why it is surviving though. The only difference is that Peaches and Barley are no longer with the flock. I would find it surprising if they had been the only ones pecking at it though.

Emerald will go to any length to reach any of the leaves on all the other shrubs in the run. As you can see in this photo she is taking no notice of it at all. I will watch with interest to see how big it grows and will report back.

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I love seeing the friendships in my flock

Speckles and Emerald stick together whether it’s perching together, dust bathing together or sitting, either in the sun or the shade, together.

These two like to stick together

Emerald and Speckles perching together with Emerald in her usual standing position

These two also like to stick together

They peck at apple together

They go to the pellets together

When I check on the nest box these two like to check it together

Rusty has a dust bath

She does her dead chicken impression

Freckles usually joins Rusty in a dust bath but she was busy in the nest box.

They like to hang out together

Apricot does her own thing

Apricot is happy to hang out with the other two amigos but she is also happy to hang out with any of the other girls as well or she will just do her own thing. Apricot isn’t part of a pair but she is friendly with all the girls and is super friendly with me.

It is lovely to see these little friends hanging out together.

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