Freckles

I think Freckles may be getting ready to start laying again. Her comb is bigger and redder and she is more vocal than she has been but most of all today when I came up behind her she dropped into a squat.

Last year she started squatting about a week or so before she started laying. I looked back and she started laying on the first of March. It is forecast to get really cold again in the coming week so that may delay her for a bit but it’s encouraging to see her squatting as it means all is well with her.

Freckles has just started squatting again

See how big and red her comb is. It’s difficult to take a photo with one hand while stroking her with the other and she had just squatted for me but was just rising back up as I clicked. You can get the gist though. This makes me happy because it means she is healthy.

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Emerald and Speckles

Emerald is my oldest girl and  is top girl. I have had Emerald for four years and she was an adult girl of undetermined age when I got her, possibly a couple of years old, so she is probably about six years old now or even a bit older. I can tell that she is feeling her age these days.

When she is on the perch above the ladder and I take treats in she will be the last to come to me. Whereas in the past she would have jumped or flown down she now steps down on each rung of the ladder. In the afternoons she sometimes dozes and she is first into the chicken shed each night. She is still in good health though and is just slowing down a bit.

I have had Speckles for three years and she is second in command and surrogate mother hen to the little girls. When we got her she was already having a full moult so she was about a year old putting her at four years old.

Emerald and Speckles have become firm friends since becoming the last two remaining bigger girls. Emerald lightly pecks the little girls to show that she is top girl and to indicate that they need to get out of her way but she never pecks Speckles.

Speckles in her mother hen role never pecks at the little girls even when they do get in her way and she has never pecked Emerald. Toffee and Emerald came into the flock together and were firm friends. Speckles came in with Butterscotch but had no alliance to her and was always a loner. After these two girls had gone Emerald and Speckles gradually became a very tight pair. I dread losing one of these girls at any time in the future.

The cold weather is definitely having an effect on the flock this year. Speckles comb is getting bigger and redder but not nearly as big as it gets during egg laying and Emerald’s tiny comb and face are still very pale.

Speckles laid two eggs last February and five in March. Emerald started laying at the beginning of March and laid ten eggs. There is no sign of any intentions to lay this year so far.

I followed Emerald and Speckles today to get a few photos which show how together they are. These are without them dust bathing together as they did earlier in the day, perching in the sun together and at the food or water dish together plus of course roosting together at night.

What is in this corner!

I have no idea why they were both pecking at the back of the large shelter. I even looked behind the shelter to see if there was a mouse but there was nothing.

In the shelter together

Having some apple together

Freckles comb is getting redder whilst Emerald’s comb is very pale

Pecking at the shavings in the pop hole

I took all these photos in just a few minutes. These two move together in almost perfect synchronicity. It is a joy to see such a lovely friendship.

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Flock activities

I love the way the flock do things together. I put out some mash in three little dishes to make it easy for them all to get their share. Despite this they all crowd around one dish and each dish gets emptied one at a time until there is just one dish of mash left.

Speckles comb is getting bigger and redder

Speckles always has her trade mark little feather standing up on the back of her head. Moulting never changes this little feature of hers.

Emerald’s tail has grown back

I love to see these two at the water together

Speckles and her girls at the mash dish

Three little girls at the mash dish

Four little girls at the mash dish

I love the togetherness of the flock. Every activity is a group activity.

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Dandelion

Dandelion remains the most vulnerable of the girls to the mycoplasma during frosty spells. The sneezing throughout all the girls is only very occasional now and has almost disappeared. Freckles who along with Dandelion was the worst effected has shown no symptoms apart from the very occasional sneeze along with the rest of the girls.

But with Dandelion the frosty weather brings back bubbles to her eyes. It’s as if it is just there under the surface waiting for the frost to bring it out again. During the last frosty spell she had a crusty right eye for just one morning.

We have recently experienced, a prolonged, frosty spell. Yesterday Dandelion came out of the chicken shed, in the morning, with both eyes looking crusty. It’s almost like this has left her with conjunctivitis. As I watched her she scratched each eye in turn with a claw and removed the crust. I am thankful that she is able to remove it herself.

I decided to give all the girls tylan again, for five days, to be on the safe side. I am once again putting it in their water and making them mash from the tylan water to get as much as possible into them. This morning was frosty again and Dandelion had a little bubbling in her right eye. She usually just has it in the right eye and only occasionally in both eyes.

Dandelion seems to get the bubbles when at rest, overnight, or perching in the sun. As soon as she starts to preen she is able to blink her eyes clear.

Dandelion’s right eye has a slight bubbling

Dandelion’s eyes are clear again

I realised after I had taken this shot that  it is actually her left eye but both eyes were as clear as this.

Dandelion isn’t showing any other symptoms so I think that this eye problem is just, stubborn, rears up when it’s frosty, and will go with the better weather. I really hope that this is the last frosty spell. I feel that if we could just get to the better weather we could get free of this.

Dandelion is fine in herself and dust baths, eats and drinks and does all the usual chicken things so I am not overly worried. I think that she will always be the weakest link in the flock but I think having come through this far she will be okay once we get through the cold weather.

My husband delivered a lunch yesterday to a lady who said that her husband was giving the speech at the meeting. She said that he was a specialist, bird vet and he had brought along one of his parrots.

My husband told her about our chickens and she said that her sister had chickens and that her husband was always looking at them for her. They talked about mycoplasma and Dandelion’s eye bubbles and she said that was a sign that Dandelion was the carrier. She agreed that tylan was the treatment of choice.

I am not sure if this is true. I have  read everything I can find on mycoplasma and haven’t come across this theory before. It doesn’t really make any difference though because once you have had mycoplasma in your flock you have to treat all the chickens as potential carriers. I thought it was interesting enough to give it a mention though.

The encouraging thing is that the girls all look happy and healthy whereas in the past I could tell things weren’t right when they were dosing and looking unwell. If I didn’t check on the flock so frequently I could easily have missed Dandelion’s eye bubbles as they are only there for a few moments. I am just repeating the tylan as a preventative measure. It is better to be on the safe side.

As I have said many times recently, roll on spring!

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Apricot

I realised that Apricot was missing from my last post. Apricot is often off doing her own thing and so sometimes gets missed from photos. She is the friendliest little girl though and is easy to get close up photos of. If I bob down she comes running. If I hold out my hand she will come and see if I have anything for her. If I hold out my camera she will often come in too close like this.

Apricot is so friendly

Apricot is a beautiful girl

Apricot

Apricot is bottom girl but she is the friendliest of the girls and is such a cutie.

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Cinnamon’s tail feathers

I wanted to do a post showing how Cinnamon’s tail feathers have grown back in. For the last couple of days I have been trying to photograph her but she is such a busy girl and is always on the move. This has lead to lots of blurred and unsatisfactory photos. If she isn’t blurred she has turned her head away at the last second.

Today I gave the girls some yogurt and decided to try again to get some photos of Cinnamon. I fired off five shots in quick succession because I expected most of them to be blurred. Lo and behold all five were good so I am making no excuses at putting out all five photos.

Cinnamon’s tail has now completely grown back

Cinnamon and Dandelion’s tail side by side

Enjoying the yogurt treat

Cinnamon is back to her former glory with just a few head pins yet to open

A comparison of Freckles and Cinnamon’s tails

Freckles tail does seem quite square and Cinnamon’s tail feathers are more rounded. They are all beautiful girls though.

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A together flock

Blog posts have been a bit thin on the ground lately. It’s been a combination of lots of work and family stuff going on and not much happening in the chicken run.

No news from the chicken run is actually a good thing and I just haven’t had much time to take photographs but to prove that the girls are all okay here are a couple of group photos that I took this morning.

The girls perch together

Combs are getting redder

The flock is so together. I look out of the window and often see the whole group in one spot then in another spot. They do everything together. They are a really close flock which is so lovely to see.

It’s also been very cold and frosty but the girls seem to be managing it okay. The moulting has slowed to me picking up just a few feathers a day and their combs seem to be getting redder.

I do believe this is the happiest and most harmonious flock I have had yet. I would love to get more little girls when the better weather arrives but it will risk rocking their world a little.

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A little snow this morning

We have been lucky and haven’t had the amounts of snow that other parts of the country have had. It has been very cold with frosts some mornings. This morning I woke to a little snow.

I think it was actually from last night but the cold, frosty, temperature had frozen it and preserved it until this morning. The flakes were large and once frozen it looked pretty. It looked even prettier later when the sun was shining on it.

Snow this morning

Snow in the sun

I haven’t had much time for blogging this week. I don’t know why but business has been exceptionally busy this week with several morning’s breakfast deliveries, large lunch orders, late orders and orders for nearly every menu that we offer. There is no rhyme or reason with our business!

There has also not been much to say about the girls which is a good thing, no drama! The good news is that it’s the first frosty spell, this winter, that hasn’t caused Dandelion to have eye bubbles or a crusty eye or a sound to her breathing. I really thought that this long cold spell would set her back again and I am so pleased that it hasn’t.

There is still occasional and quiet sneezing from all the girls but no other symptoms at all and they look well and happy. I am quietly thinking that we have come through the mycoplasma for now. I think that if they can get through this cold spell without a relapse then they should be okay. I am happy with how they are looking at the moment and looking forward to spring.

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The girls have an apple

I like to give the girls an apple to keep them occupied pecking at it throughout the day. Because their little beaks struggle to get through the peal, I peal their apple, quarter it and remove the pips. My little girls are quite spoilt.

The girls have an apple treat

They love a bit of apple to peck at

By the end of the day the apple will have completely disappeared. A healthy treat for the girls.

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Snowdrops

I love seeing the snowdrops in the garden at this time of year. These snowdrops were already in the garden when we moved in twelve years ago and they look equally good every year. They are always the first to appear.

Early snowdrops

These snowdrops we planted a few years after we had moved in. They are a much plainer shape but are bigger and appear a little later. They still haven’t fully opened up yet.

Later snowdrops

I like having both kinds but I think the early ones are the prettiest.

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