The amigos try yogurt for the first time

Today I decided to treat the girls to some yogurt. I usually put it in four little dishes but I have never given it to a flock of twelve before so I decided to put it in six little dishes. I put the dishes down on the patio and waited with my camera in hand.

The girls already familiar with yogurt come up first

Ebony is missing as she was in the nest box laying her egg

Soon the amigos come and take a look

The amigos get a bit bolder

The amigos decide they like yogurt

By lunch time all the dishes were empty. I think the amigos may come up more quickly next time now that they know what yogurt is. I think I can safely say all of the flock enjoyed the yogurt.

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Updates

Today is day five of the tylan. The girls all look fine and the sneezing has gone down to occasional with Spangle being the one who is sneezing most.

I am going to stop the tylan for now as I know from last year that residual sneezing takes a while to go completely and I want to be able to use the tylan effectively during the colder part of winter if it is needed.

Cinnamon keeps Dandelion company in the small shelter

These two girls seem to be very close these days. As I have said before the girls that have been together the longest seem to have the closest bond.

The amigos gather around the water dish

The amigos are almost like a separate little flock. Because they came in together they tend to hang out together but I think that because they came in as a bigger group there aren’t any particular close friendships. There is quite a bit of pecking order stuff between them and at bedtime Smoke pecks the head of any girl next to her.

In other news the amigos have all managed to get in the shed at bedtime before the automatic door closes. I have started giving the bedtime corn at the earlier time of three o’clock and I now stay away until the automatic door has closed as I think that perhaps I distract them if I go in too close to bedtime.

The main flock are always on the back perch but with the head pecking going on amongst the amigos there is often one girl pushed down to the lower rung. I always move them up to the top rung as they would get pooped on if they stayed there.

I think the problem is that because the rungs are at angle across the corner, the bottom run is in parts, directly underneath the top rung. They are at an angle because of the pop hole. This makes it awkward for a girl to get from the corner of the bottom rung to the top rung.

I think the other thing is that this perch has only had three girls perching here before whereas now with five girls it is more difficult for them all to get in place.

The perches on the other side are not angled and so are more like a step up making it much easier to jump from the bottom rung to the top rung.

The amigos perch

The perch that used to be used by Cinnamon, Dandelion and the silky girls

What I am thinking is that if I could train the amigos to use this perch instead of the other one it would be much easier for them all to get to the top perch. The difficulty is that it is really hard to change a chicken’s habit.

It may be worth a try though as there is nothing lost if it doesn’t work and they continue to use the corner perch. I think I would start by moving them to this perch after dusk and then cover the corner perch with a bin bag the next evening.

It is forecast to be very cold over the next few nights so I will delay the training until it’s not quite so cold as it is more important during the colder nights that they settle easily. It may be a challenge. Watch this space!

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Little friends sharing a dust bath

Dandelion and Cinnamon are firm friends and they spend a lot of time together. It is heart warming watching these two little friends together.

Cinnamon and Dandelion sharing a dust bath

Togetherness

And from the other direction

These two are so sweet together.

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The five amigos at six months

I recently managed to get some even better shots of the five amigos perching together, this time, above the other ladder. I decided to use two of these photos to update my “History of the flock part three” (above the title). I had included photos of the amigos when we got them at about three months old. Now I have added the photos of them all grown up at about six months old.

The amigos when we first got them

The amigos perching together

And again in a slightly different order

I said recently that Vanilla has changed colour and has much more gold on her now. I now realise that Spangle has changed too and has much more white on her. I think she has got prettier. I like seeing more white as it show cases the dark feathers and she no longer looks like a turn stone.

If you move between the first and second photo you can see the changes in these two girls. They have all grown into beautiful girls.

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Back on Tylan to be on the safe side

I gave the girls a course of tylan in the last week of September. I didn’t mention it here because I thought perhaps I was just being a bit paranoid.

I had noticed that when I was in with the girls I would hear each and every girl, bigger and smaller, sneeze at some point. All the girls looked absolutely fine and were showing no sign of illness.

I googled chickens sneezing once again. It says that chickens will sneeze from time to time just as we do because of dust but if all of the flock are sneezing then it needs to be treated. My tylan was near to it’s “use by” date anyway so I decided to use it up and get some more stock in for the winter.

Since then the girls have continued to sneeze although I think a bit less. They have all looked fine and I know that last winter the sneezing took a long time to go away completely so I decided to keep a close eye on them.

Yesterday before bedtime when I was cleaning up the run I was hunkered down next to the amigos. I could hear wheezing. It was quite a loud “darth vader” sound. I followed the sound to see where it was coming from and it was Marmite.

Marmite this morning

This fills me dread but I must stay calm and treat them again. This morning I added tylan to the water and had it ready for when the girls came out of the shed. I mix one teaspoon of tylan to one litre of water and put it in both drinkers.

I will keep the girls on this for five days and watch them closely. I am disappointed to need to treat this early in the year as I was expecting to have to do so once we hit the really cold conditions but at the moment we are experiencing really mild temperatures for the time of year.

Having said that I haven’t heard Marmite wheezing today so maybe she had just got a bit of corn stuck. All the girls are sneezing from time to time though. I will continue for five days to be on the safe side. Better safe than sorry.

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Bedtime

I am frustrated at the moment with the bedtime routine. For a while it was all going smoothly with all the girls getting in before the automatic door closed.

Recently some of the girls, usually the amigos, have been getting shut out. Dandelion, Cinnamon and the silky girls always go in in plenty of time. Mostly Ebony and Flame are in in time and sometimes Speckles is too but the amigos are now getting shut out most nights.

The problem is that they are leaving it too late to go in. There is no point altering the sensor on the automatic door as it is almost dark when it closes and by then it’s already too dark for the amigos to get to their perch without the help of a torch or me lifting them to the perch.

I don’t understand why they are leaving it so late as previous girls used to be perched nearly an hour before the door shut. The amigos leave it right until the last minute and are now regularly getting caught out.

My husband had an idea to help them to the perch once they did go in. He suggested that instead of the torch I could reinstate the light that he had bought me to help with poop picking on dark mornings. I tried it this evening and it was a total failure. It’s back to the torch from now on.

The girls were all in apart from the amigos once more. I pinned open the door and switched on the light. The amigos have now learned that they can enter the shed through the main door. Vanilla was first to work out that if the bigger girls went through then she could too. Once she was confident going through the door the rest of the amigos followed. Marmite was the last to catch on but even she has now got the hang of it.

Anyway once the light was on all the other girls jumped down from the back perch and started scratching in the shavings. The amigos made no attempt to perch but also scratched in the shavings. The light was obviously giving out too much light and the entire flock decided that it was play time.

I switched off the light and replaced the torch on the floor and the girls jumped back to the back perch again. I then pointed the torch towards the amigos’ perch and they jumped up with me helping the last couple of girls up.

Ebony about to lead the perching girls down once I have switched the light on.

Cinnamon looks rather squashed in the corner.

Finally the amigos are in place

The rest of the girls perched in their new positions

Dandelion and Cinnamon have put plenty of space between them and the silky girls. They really don’t like perching with the silky girls. In the first photo they are on the opposite side to them and in this one they have just left a big gap.

A final check on the amigos

I always wait outside for a few minutes and then check again to make sure that all the girls are still perched.

It’s not a problem at the moment as I am here to check on them but it does mean that I wouldn’t be confident of being away over night. It is frustrating that they seem to have lost the ability to get themselves in in time and I don’t how to teach them to go in earlier.

I may try to shepherd them in earlier and see that if helps. I am not holding my breath though!

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The groups that make up our flock

I have talked before of the groups within our flock. As time goes on it is still quite obvious that the flock is made up of groups of girls.

I have come to realise a few things since we have had chickens. Time in the flock is very important. The girls that have been together the longest have the strongest bonds and the other thing is that the girls that come into the flock together also usually have the strongest bonds.

In the afternoons I put some apple and melon on the patio area. The pecking order is such that it will be the three bigger girls plus Dandelion and Cinnamon that will get the first go at the treats. Speckles is happy to have Dandelion and Cinnamon pecking at some apple alongside her and she never chases them away.

They have been together the longest and she seems to consider them her girls. In the same way she is happy to have them perch next to her at bedtime. The next boldest girls are the two silky girls but Speckles will chase them from the apple. In the same way she won’t tolerate them perching next to her at bedtime.

Dandelion and Cinnamon also chase the silky girls from the apples. The five amigos don’t even venture to the apple until the first girls have moved away. They have to wait their turn and they are not tolerated perching with the rest of the girls at bedtime either. The amigos stick to their own perch.

Although this is all quite obvious there is still harmony within the flock. There is no bullying it is just the normal pecking order. The entire flock are happy to dust bath together, to scratch and peck in the run together and preen together. Sometimes during the day they will all perch together too but there are often times when you can see the flock in their separate groups too.

The five amigos perching together

These girls are never far from each other. Sometimes they will all be on top of the shelter and sometimes they will all be on top of the metal table. They move around the run together and group together to preen at the end of the day. They go into the shed together after the other girls have gone in.

Dandelion and Cinnamon

Dandelion and Cinnamon are always the first two to go into the shed at bedtime. Dandelion likes this corner by the gate. She can often be found in this corner or in the little shelter and Cinnamon will join her to keep her company. These two will also quite easily perch with Speckles and the other two bigger girls.

They have been around Speckles the longest and as Speckles accepted the other two bigger girls these two are happy to accept them too. By bringing in Ebony first and Flame five days later they haven’t become a bonded pair and are happy to be part of Speckles team.

The silky girls

Jasmine and Sienna are always together

When two girls come into together they seem to have the closest bond. These two are inseparable and wherever one goes the other follows.

Three bigger girls

These three girls have easily accepted each other. I definitely made the right decision to bring Ebony and Flame in five days apart. Had they come in together I feel sure that they would have been a bonded pair and Speckles wouldn’t be a part of this group.

When we added Ebony to the flock Speckles instantly accepted her. She had been used to having a companion of her own size. When we added Flame Speckles just as easily accepted her too. Ebony took a few days of chasing her away before she too accepted her.

They have now become a comfortable group of three and at times are joined by Dandelion and Cinnamon and are an equally comfortable group of five.

I sometimes feel sorry for the silky girls when they are not allowed to be part of this group but they have each other and I guess over a longer time they may get promoted to become part of the top group or maybe they will just stay in between the top group and the amigos. Time will tell.

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Sunshine and rain

We are having some very mixed weather at the moment. We have had some heavy rain and we have had some showers and sunshine and sometimes both at the same time.

At the weekend the sun sparkled on the rain droplets on our bedroom window when I took my ironing up to put away. With the autumn leaves on the tree through the window it looked beautiful.

Sun and rain

The photo doesn’t quite capture the sparkle on the rain drops but with the autumn colours outside I thought it was worth keeping anyway.

From our sitting room window there was a huge rainbow. By the time I decided to take a photo half of it had disappeared but again I thought the remaining half was worth showing.

rainbow

It is very changeable at the moment but I am pleased that after earlier frosts we are now experiencing quite warm weather for the time of year. The longer it lasts the shorter winter will be so I hope it stays for a while longer yet.

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Serama portraits

I am updating the serama portraits as the girls are all pretty much grown up now. I am going to do them in their pecking order from top to bottom.

There is a bit of blurring around the top position of the amigos. Smoke was firmly in top position when we first got them but Spangle and Vanilla have had little spats with Smoke as they have tried to move up the ranking. I think Smoke has retained top position with Spangle second and Vanilla third but they are so close that they could be joint top girls.

Salmon is next and Marmite remains firmly at the bottom. She is the most timid amongst her flock mates.

Dandelion

I always think Dandelion looks very queenly.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a tiny girl with an enormous crop/breast. She remains an avid digger of the deepest dust holes.

Sienna

Sienna grows to look more like Rusty every day but doesn’t have the aggression Rusty had to her underlings.

Jasmine

Jasmine is a sweet girl in looks and nature.

Smoke

All the seramas including Marmite have yellow legs and feet but Smoke has grey legs and feet to match her feather colour. She is a beautiful colour.

Spangle

Spangle is the most bold around me and therefore easy to get close ups. She has unusual markings.

Vanilla

I have been hand feeding spinach to Vanilla in an attempt to make her more accepting of me so that maybe she won’t peck me. She has been friendlier today and has also become easier to get close up photos of.

Salmon

Salmon is so pretty and also sweet natured. She is almost as tiny as Cinnamon, in fact, she is between Cinnamon’s size and the other girls’ size.¬† She once jumped on to my back but hasn’t repeated it since.

Marmite

Marmite is shy. She has had pins on her head since we first had her but I guess they show up more on her. She is a lovely colour too.

I think they are all such beautiful girls and I love the different colours and different characters.

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Autumn berries

It’s been a good year for autumn berries. I hope that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a harsh winter as, the old wives tale, goes.

Earlier in the year I photographed the three coloured berries of our climbing plant which, with a bit of research, turned out to be amur peppervine or porcelain berries. These have now all turned blue.

The pirocanthus which is growing with it has retained it’s glorious red berries.

Blue coloured berries

Amazing red berries

Blue and red berries together

These berries give us a splash of colour to look out on from our kitchen window. They are as striking as the wonderful autumn leaves that are all around at the moment. The autumn  beauty is lingering this year which is lovely.

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