The new chicken shed is finished

We had a really full on, busy, weekend but we did manage to get the chicken shed finished in between.

The new shed is finished and in position

I am pleased that all three nest boxes still fit and there was no need to move the storage cabinet (which is screwed in place). I had the nest boxes closed and broody Marmite was sat on top of one. I opened them to take a photo and she is already about to jump in.

We will block off the pop hole in the old shed later, when we have more time, so for now I have just blocked it temporarily to stop the girls going in there. I have emptied it and hoovered it.

The automatic door closer is on

The perches are in place

The wider perch is opposite the pop hole, as before, for the bigger girls. It only needs to fit the three girls so didn’t need to be too long. The longer, narrower, perch is opposite the door for the little girls.

The black square is black plastic glued in place to block the lower vent as I didn’t want a draft directly behind where the girls will be perched. There is another vent above the door and a slight gap around the left edge of the door due to our alterations. There are also small holes (pound coin sized) beneath the peaks of the roof. I hope that this will be enough ventilation. If it turns out we need more we will add more as the shed doesn’t need to be water tight as it is under the dry area.

Spangle is the first to investigate

We sealed the cut edges of the plastic for the pop hole with strong white masking tape and I sanded the plastic strip at the bottom so that there are no sharp edges for the girls to stand on.

I went out several times last night to see how the girls were getting on. All the little girls went to their perch which I was really pleased about. They all fit comfortably. The three bigger girls were obviously confused by the new arrangements. All three ended up on top of the nest box outside the plastic shed.

I am not too disappointed by this as at least they chose to get as near to the new shed as possible. I think I should be able to train them over the next few nights.

The disappointing thing was that the automatic closer didn’t work. I checkedĀ  it several times, the last time being at half past ten, when it was dark and it was still open. As it is really warm at the moment I left it open and we are going to look at the wiring inside today. The wires came out when we moved it and we think we may have them wired up wrongly.

If we can get that sorted out the shed will be up and running. We will see how tonight goes and I will report back in another post.

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Trying to break the broody cycle

We are continuing to modify the new chicken shed in the afternoons. I was at home today as I didn’t have deliveries so decided to get tough with the broody girls.

Vanilla laid her first egg since her broody break of ten days. It was a whopper for a serama egg. Jasmine also laid, so two eggs today, hurrah.

Vanilla’s egg on the left and Jasmine’s egg on the right

I checked on my egg record and found that Ebony has now been broody for four weeks. In fact just a little longer because it was four weeks ago that she last laid but she laid the last couple of eggs after she went broody as the girls often do. It only takes three weeks to hatch an egg so this is ridiculous.

Flame has been broody for a week and Marmite has been broody for a couple of days. I thought that I may have been mistaken with Marmite as she took longer and longer to lay each of her last two eggs and then that was it, broody and in the nest box all day.

With all three nest boxes clogged up with broody girls it is causing the laying girls to be very vocal with some of them not happy to share a nest box with an angry broody.

I decided enough was enough! Vanilla and Jasmine had laid their eggs. Cinnamon and Salmon had laid the day before and only lay about once a week at the moment. Smoke hasn’t yet laid since she came out of being broody. Spangle lays very rarely and Speckles isn’t laying at the moment. This meant there would be no girls wanting to lay so I decided to close the nest boxes.

Because I know that Ebony and Flame will sit on top of the nest box if closed I stacked two nest boxes on top of each and took the third nest box outside.

When I next checked the girls this is what I found.

Ebony and Flame on top of the stack of nest boxes

After a whole month how can Ebony be this determined! I then bought the third nest box back in and added it to the stack. That stopped them getting up there. It will be interesting to see what happens at bedtime as I hope this will force them to go in the chicken shed. They may decide to sleep outside instead but I am used to moving girls around at bedtime.

I will leave the nest boxes like this for tomorrow morning too. Vanilla is the only girl likely to want to lay tomorrow. I will keep an eye on her and open up a nest box if she looks like she needs one.

To the plastic shed we fitted the runners for the pop hole door and some brackets for the perch at the back for the bigger girls. We used silicon sealant to seal all the joins so it will be be harder for red mite to hide anywhere.

All that is left to do now is to fit the automatic door closer and the brackets for the little girls’ perch and then to fit the perches. We hope to get this done tomorrow. We are nearly ready for the girls to move in.

Edit

All the broody girls went into the chicken shed at bedtime, hurrah!

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Putting the plastic shed together

We have been quite busy with work and have functions to cater this weekend both on Saturday and Sunday, plus there is a classic car show we want to go to on Sunday afternoon, with our car.

This has meant that there hasn’t been much time to spare for putting the new shed together. My husband has been putting together some of the parts after work some days this week. We decided to take our time as we didn’t want to rush it and make mistakes. We have also been at the mercy of the weather and have only been able to continue on dry days.

Once we had the base together we tried it in the run for size. We then tried one side of the shed, on the base, to check the height and realised that it wasn’t going to fit. We decided that the only thing to do was to cut it down a bit. We decided to cut the bottom “plank” off which reduced the height by seven inches.

This meant a lot of work because the frame is steel and all the frame work had to be cut down. We also needed to cut out the pop hole before we could put the shed together. The shed would have been fairly straight forward to put together if we hadn’t had to make alterations which effected everything.

Despite this I am so pleased that it isn’t so high as this means we will be able to move it around which means I can sweep around and underneath it and wash it and position it differently if I want to. If it had been jammed in height wise we wouldn’t have been able to move it.

Once we had made all the alterations we moved all the parts inside the run and started to put it together. As we had read in the reviews on line the roof was the tricky bit. It was one of those things where you get one side together and another side pops out. Eventually we got it together.

A trial run at putting the shed together

The shell of the shed

The shed is together inside the run

The shed isn’t in it’s final position as I need to be able to get the old shed door open at the moment so that I can still get in there. Once this shed is up and running it will be pushed back in front of the old shed and I will then decide where the nest boxes will end up.

The pop hole has been cut out but we need to attach the door and the automatic door closer. We also need to put in perches. For now the girls can get used to it being here. I have blocked the pop hole so that they are not tempted to explore inside and possibly poop in there.

There is still more work to be done but for now it is up and it is inside so that is a good start.

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Continuing broodyness

A few days ago I said that I thought that Marmite was going broody but I was mistaken. Marmite was just taking a very long time to lay her egg. However that same day Flame went broody and has been broody for four days now. Ebony has been broody for three and a half weeks which is ridiculous!

Speckles last laid six days ago and has gone back to drinking lots of water and doing sloppy poops. This was pretty much what I expected if this is a hormonal problem and I think she may take eight weeks off and then start laying again if she follows her previous pattern.

This means we have no bigger girls laying and our two best laying little girls are not laying since their broody break so egg production has dropped dramatically. We are getting one little egg a day at the moment.

Another thing that has changed is that Flame has stopped pecking me, hurrah! When she first went broody there were a few times when I knew that she was sitting on Marmite’s egg. I reached under her to remove the egg and was most surprised that she didn’t peck me.

The next thing I decided to try was to see if I could lift Flame from the nest box and again she didn’t peck me. I have been lifting Flame several times a day along with Ebony and she hasn’t pecked me.

I am amazed and extremely pleased by this change in Flame. It makes it so much easier to be able to handle her. I wonder what has brought about this change. None of the girls are pecking me now so maybe it has just taken this long for them to accept me handling them. I can’t say how much nicer it is to have no girls pecking me, especially Flame.

I lift Flame and Ebony out of the nest box several times a day

They are like a pair of bookends

They sit like this for a few minutes and then run off and scratch, preen or dust bath and then have food and water before returning to the nest box.

At bedtime I close the nest boxes but it makes no difference to these two girls as they just settle on top of the nest boxes.

Bedtime

I lift them to the perch once the pop hole has closed. I will be glad when these two girls have come out of this. I only hope that Flame isn’t going to stick at it as long as Ebony. I am wondering if Ebony is ever going to come out of this!

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Allotment update

Yesterday we went to the allotment. This plot is beautiful. We aren’t sure if it’s just been left or if it’s been purposefully seeded with wild flowers but the effect is stunning. I suspect it must have been seeded.

A beautiful wildflower plot

On to our plot.

Lettuces and radishes looking great and carrots on the right

Potatoes looking great

Broad beans

Cabbages

First of the ripe strawberries

Grandchildren in the background

Having a go at mowing

We are really pleased with how everything is coming along. We have so far been harvesting rocket and spinach although the spinach is bolting and going to seed. Everything else is looking great.

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The tiniest egg yet

Today I found the tiniest egg, so far, in the middle of the run. I think that the girl who laid it was unaware and just dropped it in the run. This one is the first one without a yolk. It’s a bit of a mystery as to why a girl should lay a tiny egg at this stage.

By a process of elimination I think this egg is from Salmon. The reasons for this conclusion are as follows. Cinnamon hasn’t laid for two weeks now but these tiny eggs are a feature of my latest breeder’s girls so Cinnamon is out of the running.

Smoke is out of the running as she is firmly broody and it can’t be Vanilla as she has just come out of being broody.

It isn’t Jasmine as she laid her first egg since her broody break, today, in the corner of the chicken shed.

Spangle laid today and lays torpedo shaped eggs. Marmite laid yesterday and today and today has gone broody. Yes, yet another broody girl!

That just leaves Salmon who last laid a week ago and yesterday looked a bit poorly as if about to struggle to lay. Her last couple of eggs had thin shells but for the last couple of days she has been going to the grit. Today she had bounced back again.

The odd thing is that this tiny egg obviously wouldn’t have been a struggle to lay (I wouldn’t have expected her to look out of sorts) and I wonder why it’s been produced at this stage. It’s as if it has been laid before being fully formed.

The latest tiny egg

This egg is not much bigger than a black currant and about half the size of a grape.

Tiny egg on the egg ramp

Left is Flame’s egg, next is Marmite’s and on the right is the tiny egg.

This tiny egg has no yolk

It is very odd.

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Snow in June and our shed is delivered

Okay so it isn’t really snow but it looks like it. After a hot May and a cold, wet and windy June, our rose very quickly peaked and then dropped. Every day the path looks like it’s being snowed on despite my husband sweeping it daily.

Rose petal snow on the path

Our shed was delivered at eight o’clock this morning. Although we weren’t expecting it quite that early we were pleased as we knew we would be out most of the day and were wondering how that was going to work out.

We have an afternoon tea to deliver and then we are going to, our village, fate. This means dealing with the shed will have to be put off until we have more time.

The shed has arrived

In other news Vanilla has come out of her broody spell after four days. She stayed out in the run yesterday afternoon and was out in the run this morning.

Ebony and Smoke remain broody. Ebony has now been broody for three weeks so she must surely come out of it soon! Smoke has been broody for ten days. It takes three weeks to hatch eggs so Ebony really should give up soon. I think Ebony is trying to set the record!

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We are going to have a new chicken shed

We are very disappointed with our current chicken shed. We have only had it for four years and we paid a lot for what we thought would be a good shed and would last a long time.

Ever since we first had it we have battled to keep it dry. Damp started to seep through the wood in the back, left, corner. We drilled holes in the concrete around the shed to drain the water. We put guttering around it to take the water from the roof to a butt which has a hose out into the garden. We painted it with several coats of wood protector.

After all this the water still came in. The back, left, corner became so wet that it rotted the wood and we were able to put our finger through it. This scares me that something could get in so we nailed a thick wooden block over the hole on the inside. I had put wire mesh around the outside and slipped a block of wood between the hole and the mesh outside.

A thick block of wood covering the hole

The dark stripe above the block of wood is damp.

During the recent, relentless rain, the damp inside the shed has got worse. It is now all along the left side of the shed and has risen up to the height of the perch. This worries me as with a history of respiratory problems with the flock the last thing they need is damp.

The perch in front of the damp patches is where Cinnamon and Jasmine perch so I have taken to moving them at dusk each night. I perch Jasmine with the amigos and Cinnamon next to Speckles.

Wet patches behind the perch that Cinnamon and Jasmine were using

The piece of wood at the right of the photo is the arm that holds the perch and the damp is creeping across that too.

With hind sight we think we should have put the shed on a low wall to keep it off the ground but the old shed was straight on the concrete and was never damp as is our cabin which has caused no problems. We feel that it is the type of wood that the shed is made from which is drawing the water up.

After a lot of consideration we have decided to buy a plastic shed. We have ordered one of the smallest size so that it will fit inside, on the patio area, in front of the existing chicken shed. This will have the advantages of being safer from predators, being under an already dry area and will be easier to deal with red mite. It was also cheaper at two hundred pounds.

What we intend to do is to put it together inside, on the patio area, while the existing shed is still there so that it will mean there will be no hurry to get it ready. We will move the pop hole and automatic door to the new shed. We will put in the perches. It has ventilation strips above the door but if we find we need more ventilation we can drill some holes as it won’t need to be water tight as it on the dry, roofed, area.

When it is ready we will block up the pop hole on the wooden shed to stop the girls going in and leave it for a while until we are ready to decide what to do next. We will probably, eventually, take the wooden shed away and block off the back but we need to decided how best to do this to keep it secure. For now there is no hurry to deal with this as the new shed can just sit in front of the old shed.

The new shed is due to be delivered on Saturday. We have an afternoon tea booked on Saturday so we will tackle the new shed when we have the time to do it. It will be tricky putting it together in the confined space and making the adaptations so we won’t rush it but I think it will be well worth it in the end.

It will give me peace of mind having it inside as I won’t constantly be worrying about keeping it secure. It will be better for the girls as it will be dry and it will be easier to deal with mites. At the moment I spray with smite every few days and it’s a constant battle to keep mite numbers as low as possible. I have got it down to, pin prick sized, mites, that are newly hatching but I have to keep on at it all the time.

I know getting the shed ready is going to be a bit of a nightmare but I know that it will be well worth it in the end. The chicken run has always been a work in progress and finding the right housing for the girls has been similar, going from a wooden coup, to a wooden shed, to a plastic shed, but we have to learn as we go along and is difficult to know from the start what is going to be the best.

I have learned over time what the best height is for the perches so I am determined that in this shed we will get everything right from the start as working with plastic is not going to be easy. Watch this space.

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Speckles lays her sixth egg of the year

Yesterday Speckles laid her sixth egg of the year. Apart from her first egg of the year in March Speckles has now laid another five in eleven days. That is practically an all time record for her! I thought she may only lay six eggs this year and she has done so already which has come as a surprise.

When Speckles does lay her eggs are enormous. I know egg photos are probably boring everyone but they are good for my records so I am going to put another one here.

Speckles sixth egg of the year

For size comparison Speckles egg is on the left, Flame’s egg is in the middle and Marmite’s egg is on the right. These were yesterday’s three eggs.

In other news Ebony, Smoke and Vanilla continue to be broody. After a two week break from her last broody spell Jasmine sat in the corner of the chicken shed for a couple of hours and I felt sure that she would lay an egg. However she eventually came out without laying. This means she is getting ready to start laying again as these little girls often have false alarms to begin with.

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Broody, broody, broody, girls!

I can’t believe how constant the broodies are at the moment. Vanilla went broody again yesterday so we now have three, Ebony, Smoke and Vanilla. Vanilla took a six day break after her last broody spell and then laid six eggs in nine days before going broody again.

Ebony has been in it for the long haul. While Ebony has been broody Vanilla went broody then Jasmine went broody then Smoke went broody (and still is) and then Vanilla again.

Like Jasmine, Vanilla wasn’t broody long last time, so I am hoping that that will be the same this time.

They are three quite different broodies. Ebony is completely docile and accepts me lifting her without any protest. She doesn’t peck and she doesn’t growl.

Vanilla is angry and pecks me and growls as does Jasmine when she is broody. Vanilla has always pecked me but Jasmine only does so when broody and the rest of the time I can handle her easily.

Smoke raises her wings and tail and has an angry gleam in her eye but doesn’t peck and remains in a trance like state when I lift her out.

When I lift Ebony out she sits there for a minute and then takes of at speed for a scratch, dust bath, preen, food and water and then returns to the nest box at speed.

When I lift Smoke out she sits in a trance like state. I have taken to placing her on the log as this helps her come out of her trance more quickly. She then has food and water and occasionally a dust bath and then returns to the nest box.

When I lift Vanilla out she will usually go straight back in again. She stays out for longer when she decides to come out on her own.

Vanilla is an angry broody

I just caught Vanilla shouting at me here.

Ebony is a docile broody and is very calm

Smoke is somewhere in between

There is an angry glint in her eyes.

Vanilla when lifted from the nest box

Ebony when lifted from the nest box

Smoke when lifted from the nest box

Vanilla angrily makes her way back to the nest box with wings stretched

Smoke takes her time to come out of her trance

It’s a never ending round of broody behaviour!

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