A trip to the vet with Salmon

Over the last couple of days I have detected a slight wheeze from Salmon. This alarmed me as it means the myco is still in the flock. I know it’s best to act fast so I took Salmon to the vets yesterday.

Salmon today

Unfortunately I saw the stern vet, that I had only spoken to on the phone before, when she said that I couldn’t go on having antibiotics. I recognised her abrupt manner.

She was very thorough with her examination. She said that Salmon’s heart was strong which is a relief after past heart problems. She said that in all her years as a vet she had never come across a chicken with a heart problem before.

She said that the sound wasn’t in her air sac but just in her upper tract. She asked if there had been any other myco incidents since Dandelion was put to sleep and I said not. I believe that there was with Cinnamon but the vet that saw her thought it wasn’t myco so I thought it best to say not.

She said that she was not happy about continuing to give out antibiotic. I have to admit that I pleaded with her. I asked if I could have baytril as it would only be given to Salmon and I said that there were no eggs at the moment due to moulting and we wouldn’t have eaten the eggs if there had  been any.

She said she still didn’t like it because the individual birds could build up a resistance to antibiotic. I did wonder what the point of checking her was if she was so reluctant to treat but I tried to stay calm. In the end she said she would give me just three days of baytril.

I said that I had researched and read that you must complete a weeks course of antibiotic. She said that three days should see an improvement and I was to ring the surgery in three days and if she was improved I could have the remaining four days.

I didn’t ask what would happen if she wasn’t improved. I assume she meant that Salmon would have to be put to sleep. I could do nothing else but accept the three days worth. She said I am to call after three days either way.

One interesting thing that she did say though was that I should dose Salmon to her beak once a day. I said that I had always been told twice a day before. She said that she had always found that once a day works fine and it is less stressful to the bird.

I totally agree with that! Salmon is very difficult to pick up and I had to chase her around the run to pick her up and put her in the cat box to take her to the vet. I dosed her when we got home and will now do it by lifting her from her roost spot at the end of each day which will make it much easier.

The girls are now in by the time we have had our dinner at half past seven so this will be easier for us and less stressful for Salmon.

Salmon looks fine as you can see from today’s photo. She is another favourite of mine. She is friendly (unless I want to pick her up) and pretty and also never broody. I can’t bare the thought of  losing her. I think you know what I will be saying when I call the vet on Friday.

I have to say that I now have a dread of winter. I worry that if it is a really cold winter (which has been forecast) that the whole flock may end up sneezing and I won’t have access to tylan to treat them. It really scares me that the whole flock might be at risk.

I will consider finding another vet if I can’t get help from my vet but I don’t know if another vet would help me either and how much background would I have to give to convince them that I know it’s myco. I will just have to cross my bridges as I come to them.

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A moulting flock

Over the last week feathers have been dropping from the girls in heaps. I spend more time picking up feathers than poop picking. As the girls move feathers waft from them.

Some of the girls are looking more tatty than others though. The three bigger girls don’t look bad at the moment. Speckles has had a slow moult this year and she looks good. Her feather dropping has slowed right down now so I think that she may be through it now.

Speckles

Speckles from the other side

Ebony

You can just see a feather falling from under Ebony’s tail.

Ebony from the other side

Ebony has retained the white on her head and some white tips to her wing and tail feathers.

Flame

Flame looks good at the moment but today was the first day that I found lots of her feathers so I suspect she may soon start to look tatty.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon looks good and her comb is a lovely red colour. She was dropping feathers and had taken a break from laying but has now stopped dropping feathers and is laying again.

Jasmine

Jasmine doesn’t appear to be dropping any feathers and is still laying. She also has a lovely red comb. She is so curious, look at how she stretches forward to see me with the camera.

Smoke

Smoke again

It has only been nine days since Smoke came out of her long broody spell and yet she laid an egg yesterday. I have been finding piles of her grey feathers and yet she doesn’t actually look any different apart from the white carotene on her head.

Spangle

Spangle again

Spangle has messy breast feathers but that is the only sign that she is moulting. She too looks at me with great interest.

Salmon

Salmon again

Salmon is moulting quite heavily. She has pins on the back of her head and her breast feathers look messy too.

And then we come to Marmite! Marmite is moulting the heaviest of all the girls and is looking very tatty.

Marmite

Marmite again

A very tatty Marmite

Look at the gap in her tail feathers. She does have plenty of pins though on her head and neck and throat.

Poor Marmite! I feel for her but she will soon be looking beautiful again I am sure. This is the first time the amigos have moulted so it’s a new experience. It is also Ebony’s first moult too.

They have a bit of a loss of confidence when they are moulting. It’s a good thing to get this over now though while it’s still warm. Hopefully they will all be fully feathered before we go into winter.

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Worming the girls

I worm the girls, the recommended, twice yearly. I do this in March and September. I add flubenvet powder to four little dishes of mash. All the girls love mash so they all get their fair share. However this year I have had so many broody girls recently that I kept delaying this.

Six days ago Smoke finally came out of her broody spell after just over four weeks. On the same day Ebony went broody. Five days ago Marmite came out of her broody spell after just over three weeks. Four days ago Flame went broody.

At this point I decided to start worming. I didn’t want to do it while the little girls were broody as if I took them out for a break I didn’t feel that they would compete with the other girls for the mash. The bigger girls are much more able to compete to get to the mash.

At this point I also closed the nest boxes. Only Cinnamon and Jasmine are laying an occasional egg at the moment and they are happy to lay in a corner of the chicken shed. The little girls are moulting and there are little feathers all around the run each day and in the chicken shed in the mornings.

Salmon and Smoke seem to be dropping the most feathers. I think that eggs will soon stop altogether.

Once I closed the nest boxes Ebony and Flame continued to sit, on the top of the nest boxes, but perched up at bedtime. Now, a few days later, they too seem to be coming out of their broodiness.

While worming the girls it’s a good opportunity to photograph the whole flock together. They look pretty good considering how many feathers I am picking up.

Worming the girls

They all get some mash with flubenvet

A great way to photograph the whole flock

My lovely flock together

I imagine that Ebony and Flame will probably moult too now that they are through being broody. Speckles has been dropping feathers too but as her moult has been gradual this year she has never looked much different. The same goes for the little girls.

There are a few pins showing but they all look pretty good. I think I may have to start buying eggs now. I haven’t found any worms which is a good sign. As long as the girls stay healthy I am happy.

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Our village show

Yesterday (Sunday) was our annual village show. We took our car for the classic car section.  We decided to set up a little table with our vintage crockery at the back of the car and put out some of our business cards. We thought it would be a good chance to promote our vintage crockery and our afternoon tea service.

The three of us sharing an allotment also put some of our produce in the competition.We entered biggest sunflower head, Fattest carrot, longest bean and heaviest marrow.

T had been growing long carrots but we found there wasn’t a longest carrot section so we entered fattest instead. T also wanted to try for biggest pumpkin but the pumpkin plant grew so long it was like Jack’s beanstalk but sadly didn’t produce any pumpkins.

It was a beautiful sunny day which meant there was a good turn out and it was very busy. We bumped into most of our neighbours and chatted to lots of people interested in classic cars.

After lunch the vegetable tent was judged and we won three, firsts, which was not bad for our first year. We got a first for our biggest sunflower head, our fattest carrot and our heaviest marrow. We were thrilled and it meant each of the three of us sharing the allotment plot got to take a rosette home.

Tea table at the back of our car

Tea table

Our car

First for our biggest sunflower head

First for our fattest carrot

First for our heaviest marrow

The sunflower head was heavy and the boys had to use a saw to cut through the stem and it took two to hold the head. But the marrow, which strictly speaking, was an overgrown courgette, was really really heavy! Afterwards we all argued about who should take it home in as much as no one  wanted to take it home!

We hefted it over to D’s classic camper van and abandoned it next to it. D is good at making a quirky use of odd things.

We all vowed to do even better next year. It was just the most enjoyable day.

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Spangle’s, crisp box, nest box

I could tell that Spangle thought she wanted to lay again today. She wasn’t happy with the nest boxes though and was searching on top of the nest box next to the store cabinet. I realised that she wanted her crisp box.

I retrieved the crisp box from the shed and this time remembered to put it on it’s side to give her more tail room. Spangle stepped straight into it.

Spangle standing in the crisp box

Spangle sitting in the crisp box

Spangle now has enough room for her tail. She sat in there for about an hour and then went back into the run. I checked and once again there was no egg. I would say that only one in three times of sitting does Spangle actually lay an egg.

We have had quite a few girls that have laid only occasionally but Spangle is the first to actually sit in the nest box so often. It’s as if she thinks she needs to lay and sometimes when she comes out with a shout it’s as if she thinks she has laid.

It’s very odd. Spangle is a lovely, quirky, girl.

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Three broody girls

Ebony went broody three days ago. Marmite has been broody for three weeks and Smoke has been broody for four weeks. I think Smoke is beginning to come out of it as she is staying out for longer when I get her out for a break.

Having three broody girls is clogging up the nest boxes when the other girls want to lay their egg, even with Marmite and Smoke, sharing a nest box. Yesterday Ebony was in one nest box while Marmite and Smoke were sharing the nest box next door. Jasmine and Spangle both wanted to lay their egg but these two girls won’t share.

Jasmine and Spangle were doing a lot of shouting as they both wanted the third nest box. Jasmine finally took possession of it.

Spangle settled on top of the nest box next to the store cabinet. When I have moved the nest boxes out to sweep behind them I have twice found a broken egg behind this nest box. I think this is due to Spangle laying there and the egg rolls down the back of the nest box. Spangle likes to be higher up to lay her egg and in the past had laid an egg on top of the store cabinet. I have left it blocked up ever since.

I decided to try to resolve this issue yesterday by giving Spangle a crisp box as a temporary nest box. I put it on top of the nest box and Spangle happily settled in to it.

Broody Ebony

Broody Marmite and Smoke

Jasmine in the third nest box

Crisp box nest box

Spangle in the crisp box

I realised when I took this photo that there wasn’t enough height for Spangles tail. Spangle has the biggest tail of the little girls. I have used a crisp box successfully in the past but now realise that I must have turned it sideways to give more height.

Spangle looked so settled that I didn’t have the heart to move her. She only lays an egg once a week or once every two weeks and has false alarms in between so I was certain that she wouldn’t lay anyway.

True to form Spangle came out of the crisp box giving the egg shout but when I checked there was no egg. I am used to this with Spangle. Jasmine laid the only egg of the day. I put the crisp box in the shed for next time it is needed.

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Tribute to Vanilla

We collected Vanilla along with the other four amigos last August.

Vanilla in February this year

Having only had Vanilla for a year, what she will be most remembered for, was her relationship with Flame. Twice this year Vanilla played the part of chick to Flame. It happened when they both went broody at the same time. The first time was in April this year. I took these photos when I had closed the nest boxes to try to break them out of this behaviour.

Vanilla posing as a needy chick in front of Flame

Vanilla pushes herself underneath Flame

Mother and chick behaviour

I didn’t think this would be likely to happen again but in August this year it did. We were also experiencing a heat wave and I had poured water over the patio area to cool it down. Again I had closed the nest boxes to try to break this behaviour which wasn’t ideal in a heat wave.

Flame and Vanilla do this again

Vanilla and Flame together in the shed

At bedtime this was how I found them. I had never come across this behaviour before and it was even more surprising that it happened twice.

I found this behaviour frustrating at the time but now that I look back at the photographs I can see that they looked very cute together.

Vanilla may have only been with us for a year but this is what she will always be remembered for. She had a very unique relationship with Flame. Vanilla had a good year with us. She was our best serama egg layer.

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Vanilla has gone

This morning when I went out to the chooks Vanilla was missing as well as the two broody girls. I assumed that she would be laying an early egg. I checked the nest boxes for the broodies and then checked the chicken shed.

Vanilla was dead in front of her roost spot. We have only had Vanilla for a year just like Apricot last year. She is our fourth girl to go at home and we buried her in the chickens’ strip next to the other girls.

I realised that the chickens’ strip had got rather overgrown

I have cleared the strip and we buried Vanilla here

I have planted some fox glove seedlings over her

My husband made a fourth cross for Vanilla.

Tomorrow I will do a tribute to Vanilla when I have collected together some photographs of her. It is so sad to lose these little girls after such a short time but I console myself with knowing that she had a good year with us.

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Sharing the nest boxes

The two broody girls continue even though it’s now been two and a half weeks for Marmite and three and a half weeks for Smoke. When Ebony wants to lay her egg the broody girls share the nest box next door.

This morning Flame also wanted to lay her egg. Despite the third nest box being empty Flame decided to share with Ebony.

The two bigger girls share a nest box

The two broody girls share a nest box

Four girls share two nest boxes

The third nest box is empty but it is quite cute to see the girls sharing.

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Seed heads and wild flowers

The leek seed heads on our veg plot have been dramatic all summer. They have now come to their end so my husband decided to cut them down and put them in our enamel jug in the kitchen and see what they do.

I arranged them and took a photo but the corner of the kitchen was a bit dark so I photographed them on the table by the back door to show them off properly.

A jug of leek seed heads

In the kitchen

A bit later my husband visited the allotment and bought me back some wild flowers.

Another jug of wild flowers from the allotment

And some poppies

The poppies are so fragile that I put them in a separate little vase. The flowers are so pretty and provide such a lovely splash of colour.

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