Spring is in the garden today

We survived the winds of yesterday’s storm Doris without too much damage. A few fence posts have come loose which will have to be dealt with at a future date and the tarpaulin over the corner shaped part of the run was lifting so we weighted it down with a couple of slates. This too will need dealing with properly at a later date. It needs renewing as it is getting brittle but it is a really awkward job as it’s difficult to get to.

However today the signs of spring are once more showing in the garden.

Miniture cyclamen

Miniature cyclamen in a patch of sun

Crocus should be opening soon

Crocus should be opening soon

The giant snowdrops

Some giant snowdrops

Helebores

Hellebores are all over the garden

It is good to see these signs of spring in the garden and in the chicken run, Freckles squatted today, when I went to pick her up. That is a sign that she is getting ready to lay at last. I tried it with Rusty but no reaction so she isn’t ready yet.

I am so excited to be collecting new girls tomorrow. Watch this space!

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Spring behaviour

With spring on it’s way, hormones raging and egg laying beginning or about to begin, the girls behaviour is changing. They have a new found confidence and all of them including the little girls are more vocal.

Suddenly Emerald and Speckles are jumping on the inner gate again, each time I enter the run, and Speckles goes from there to my shoulder. Peaches and Barley jump on my back when I poop pick and the Freckles has become quite vocal, giving out a repetitive little call each time I go in the run.

They all look amazing and all their combs are getting bigger and redder. It is lovely to see how spring causes the girls to blossom.

Speckles and Emerald jump on to the gate

Speckles and Emerald jump on to the inner gate when I open the outer gate

Where has Emerald gone?

Where has Emerald gone?

Emerald always jumps back down to the patio but Speckles always jumps from the gate to my back.

A blind selfie of Speckles on my back just below my neck

A blind selfie of Speckles on my back just below my neck

She snuggles into my neck and I have to stoop down to let her dismount. It is funny how they were doing this last year and then this behaviour just stopped through the winter. As soon as spring approaches and the girls are getting ready to lay this behaviour starts up again.

I have no idea why they do this but they do seem to gain in confidence as they approach egg laying. It is amusing and I quite like the interaction that this gives me with them. They are my funny girls!

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I’m about to rock their world

I have wanted to add new girls since losing Pebbles but have had to wait and be patient. ¬†Firstly I needed to let six weeks pass to make sure the flock was in good health. It then wouldn’t have been fair to add more seramas during the dreadful frosty weather that we have had recently.

The weather improved but we had a busy social weekend so I put it off for another week. Finally the time seems right and I called Dave the serama breeder. I was really nervous because I have waited so long for this and he was talking of the possibility of giving up breeding, due to lack of time, when we last saw him.

I took the plunge and called him yesterday and he said that he had downsized but still had plenty of hens for sale. He said that they are aged from six months upwards. This is really good for me because now that I have a few girls laying it would mean that I could integrate them as quickly as possible. They could all have layers pellets whereas younger chicks would need growers pellets and have to stay separated until old enough to move on to layers.

Dave works shifts and is not available during this week so the earliest we can go to him is Saturday morning. We have arranged to get to him at eleven o’clock on Saturday. I am so excited.

Girls, I am about to rock your world again. I think it will be really good for the little girls to belong to a bigger group but of course they may not see it like that at first. I think the bigger girls will take the newcomers in their stride but it will interesting to see what the little girls make of new girls.

At the moment the bedtime routine is super smooth. The little girls, as good as gold, go to to their own little perch with Rusty always next to the door and the bigger girls go to their higher perch. The order is always the same with top girl Emerald going in first in her favourite position next to the wall and Peaches and Barley together followed by Speckles, sometimes next to them, sometimes at the other end of the perch. Tonight is a typical evening line up.

Bedtime positions

Bedtime positions

There are no longer the aggravations that there used to be. It runs like clockwork with all the girls used to going to their own spot. How will that work with new girls? I am sure it is going to shake up the routine.

I can’t wait to have new girls and I think the flock will be richer and better balanced with more little girls but these two little girls have been used to no competition. I wonder how easily they will take to newcomers. Only time will tell!

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More dust bathing

The girls are definitely enjoying the better weather. There has been lots of dust bathing. Yesterday even Freckles joined in the communal dust bath.

Another communal dust bath

Another communal dust bath

This time it was Emerald who was missing. She was off doing her own thing.

Look at all those lovely red combs

Look at all those lovely red combs

One by one the bigger girls stood up and had a massive shake off. The little girls were having such a lovely time that they stayed put.

Rusty and Freckles are left dust bathing together

Rusty and Freckles are left dust bathing together

What a cute pair

What a cute pair

They are such a cute pair of girls and seemed to be having such a lovely time.

Today Freckles has been much more vocal than usual. I think she may start laying soon.

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Barley lays an egg

Barley laid four eggs, one every other day, then took a week off. Speckles laid her first egg of the year three days ago and it was huge. Yesterday Barley laid another egg and in comparison to Speckles egg it was tiny.

No wonder I thought Barley’s first egg may have been freckles as that was even smaller. I thought I would compare a standard hen’s, shop bought egg, and Speckles and Barley’s egg.

Standard hen's, shop bought egg on the left, Barley's fifth egg of the year in the middle and Speckles first egg of the year on the right

Standard hen’s, shop bought egg on the left for comparison, Barley’s fifth egg of the year in the middle and Speckles first egg of the year on the right

Eggs on the stand to show another angle

Eggs on the stand to show another angle

I am amazed that two girls of the same size can lay such different sized eggs. I felt pretty stupid for thinking Barley’s first egg could have been Freckles but when you look at Barley’s egg in the centre and Speckles egg on the right I think you can kind of forgive me.

I am surprised that Speckles egg is so big and that Barley’s egg is so small and I have no idea what to expect from the little girls eggs if they ever decide to start laying. It is going to be very interesting. I love how unique my girls eggs are. No standard sizes like in the supermarket and all the better for that in my opinion but then I am probably totally biased.

I am looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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Checking for eggs

Every day, several times a day, I check the nest boxes for eggs just in case I have missed the egg shout. I lift both nest box lids and check inside. Every time I do this the four bigger girls check too.

If I am looking in the nest boxes they must look too. They must come and see what I might be looking at. They must not miss anything because they are nosy girls.

Checking for eggs

Checking for eggs

The do make me smile. The little girls take no part in this daily procedure. It doesn’t concern them. They don’t know about egg laying stuff…. yet!

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Dust bath heaven

Yesterday was such a lovely day. We spent some time in the garden and I planted my pink primulas and filled a few empty tubs.

The girls had a massive communal dust bathing session. Freckles doesn’t join in the communal sessions but looks on and pecks around the edge of the group. She seems to prefer to dust bath when it’s just her and Rusty together. The other five were having a great time.

Peaches and Rusty both play dead

Peaches and Rusty both play dead

Emerald's head is upside down

Emerald twists her head upside down

Freckles pecks around the edge of the dust bath area

Freckles pecks around the edge of the dust bath area

They are having a lovely time

They are having a lovely time

Freckles watches the action

Freckles watches the action

The had a good long session and were having such a lovely time. This is always such fun to see.

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Spring is in the air

Spring is definitely in the chicken run. The girls are vocal, Emerald and Speckles are now jumping on the gate and then Speckles to my shoulder from there. The girls have a spring in their step and I am sure all thoughts are turning to egg laying.

There are snowdrops in the garden.

Snowdrops in the garden

Snowdrops in the garden

A red kite has been calling and was perched in a neighbours tree. A bit too far for a good photo, this was the best we could do.

A red kite in the tree

A red kite in the tree

And I couldn’t resist these from our local D.I.Y. store.

Pink primulas

Pink primulas

I just loved the colour and they are appropriately, for us, named “Antique Shades”. We have an abundance of primulas in our garden but mostly yellow and none in this irresistible shade of pink.

I will be planting them out later. I am definitely feeling a much welcomed bit of spring in the air.

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A dramatic, first egg, day

I have had a feeling over the last few days that Speckles was getting ready to start laying again. She has been much more vocal recently.

This morning on several occasions I could hear her shouting and when I went up to check she was in the nest box scratching around.

Speckles is in the nest box

Speckles is in the nest box

She is being watched by Barley

She is being watched by Barley

She came back out without actually sitting. A little later she was shouting again and this time was in the other nest box.

A little later Speckles is being watched by both Peaches and Barley

A little later Speckles is being watched by both Peaches and Barley

This egg laying business requires a bit of practice and is of great interest to her flock mates. A girl can’t do anything without an audience!

Emerald shows Speckles how it might be done

Emerald shows Speckles how it might be done

Peaches joins in

Peaches joins in

Speckles settles in despite her audience

Speckles settles in despite her audience

Speckles is back in the other nest box and is being watched by Barley.

Speckles camaflauges herself with pine shavings

Speckles camouflages herself with pine shavings

She is getting serious about the job now. She has changed to the other nest box again and was very precisely picking up the shavings and placing them on her back.

This has been going on since eight o’clock this morning. At half past one there was a huge amount of shouting from Speckles. She was out of the nest box and shouting her head off. There in the nest box was her first egg this year. It is huge and long. No wonder it has taken so much time and effort to get this egg laid.

Speckles first egg of the year on the left

Speckles first egg of the year on the left

On the right is a medium, big girls, shop bought, egg. For a bantam egg, Speckles egg, is huge and is longer than the standard chicken’s egg.

Another view of Speckles egg

Another view of Speckles egg

What a world of difference between Barley and Speckles. Barley’s first egg was laid with no fuss, quickly and quietly, and was tiny which is why I thought it might have been Freckles egg. Speckles egg was laid with loads of fuss over a five and a half hour period and is huge.

I love it when there is doubting the owner of the egg. Well done Speckles!

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Combs are getting redder by the minute

It was only three days ago that I did a post on combs and I said in the comments that Speckles comb would get a bit bigger and redder. Today I realised that in just that short time it has got bigger and redder. Whereas it still had some lighter patches a few days ago it is now completely red.

Even Emerald’s face is now quite pink. The little girls have really red faces and combs and the good news is that we haven’t seen Freckles pecking at Rusty’s head since I last mentioned it. I think her head feathers are looking a bit better.

I took some photos just before bedtime so it is getting a bit dark.

Speckles, Rusty and Freckles

Speckles, Rusty and Freckles

Emerald's face is pink

Emerald’s face is pink

Emerald seemed to hear something in the garden and was straining to see what it was. I couldn’t see anything and have no idea what she was looking at.

Speckles comb is now really big and red

Speckles comb and wattles are now really big and red

Rusty

Rusty

Rusty and Freckles getting settled at bedtime

Rusty and Freckles getting settled at bedtime

By the time I turned round to get another shot of these two they had gone in to bed. I am impressed by how quickly they make their way straight to their own perch these days. No hesitating like they used to do and therefore no getting bothered by the bigger girls.

They have lovely red faces and combs and Rusty’s head feathers look pretty much back to normal. Hurrah! We just need them to start laying some eggs now.

I think that Speckles will the next girl to lay.

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