Smoke is no longer broody

Hurrah! Smoke came out of being broody yesterday but Marmite is still broody. I knew Smoke was getting ready to come out of her broodiness because for the last couple of days she had been out in the run for the morning sunflower seeds and the evening corn but in the nest box the rest of the time.

Marmite is much more determined. I had been closing the nest boxes in the evening and this meant that Smoke would perch up at bedtime but Marmite would simply sit in front of the closed nest box and I had to lift her to the  perch each evening.

It was so good to see Smoke outside all day yesterday. Marmite remains determined to sit in the nest box all day. Each afternoon I would lift both Smoke and Marmite to the run and they would have a quick dust bath together. It always makes me glad that I have lifted them out when I see them dust bath. It is almost like I have granted them permission to do this.

Marmite and Smoke dust bath together

They are joined by Vanilla and Spangle

I love the way that once a couple of girls start to dust bath a couple more will join in. Chickens are such communal creatures.

I didn’t bother closing the nest boxes last night because I knew that Smoke would perch at bedtime and I decided it was as easy to lift Marmite from the nest box instead of in front of it.

There is quite a lack of egg laying at the moment. I have a theory that because seramas are a very broody breed I think that those that don’t go broody need to take a break from laying from time to time.

Speckles doesn’t really count in the egg laying stakes as she has only laid one egg this year in March and I don’t really expect her to lay again.

The odd thing is that only Ebony, Flame and Vanilla are laying at the moment. Luckily these three are all good layers so they are keeping us going with eggs.

Jasmine last laid six days ago. Salmon last laid seven days ago. Marmite last laid eight days ago. Smoke last laid ten days ago. Cinnamon also last laid ten days ago. The really odd one is that Spangle last laid twenty four days ago.

Spangle was never a good layer. She laid twice a week for four months before stopping. The odd thing is that she goes to the nest box from time to time and sits a while then leaves without laying. Spangle looks fine though so it is a puzzle but then again in the past Topaz hardly laid at all.

In all of the time that we had Sienna I never ever saw her in a nest box so it was obviously her heart problem that stopped her laying. Spangle has laid in the past and does go to the nest box so she must feel like she wants to lay or should be laying. It is a puzzle but as long as she looks fine I try not to worry.

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The evolving allotment plot

The orange netting on our allotment plot has now been lowered so that it is less obvious.

The nets have now been lowered

View from the opposite corner

Inside with the lowered nets

From the other direction

The nets simply lift up

The potatoes have been mounded up

Overall we are really pleased with how the plot is coming along.

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Flame is back in lay

This morning Flame settled in a nest box. A little later she was out in the run and Marmite was sitting on Flame’s, large, white egg. I had forgotten how big Flame’s eggs are. It has been three weeks since she last laid and ten days since Vanilla started laying again.

Flame is in the nest box

It obviously takes longer to start laying again after the broody hormones than after regressing to being a chick. It is good to have another layer of bigger eggs again.

Ebony and Marmite share a nest box

I love seeing these girls of different size but the same colour together.

Ebony and Marmite sitting side by side

Broody girls are happy to share a nest box because they get to snaffle an egg. When I next checked Ebony was out in the run and Marmite was sitting on Ebony’s egg. Marmite looked so proud to sit on two large eggs in one day! Sigh!

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Our veg plot

We have been waiting to be fairly certain there won’t be any more frosts, before planting the last few things in our veg plot, which is a courgette plant and some tomato plants.

We are not planting so many plants this year as there should be plenty of produce from the allotment. We decided just one courgette plant should be enough and I bought four tomato plants as they came in a pack of four and were low cost. I decided to try a yellow courgette as a bit of a change.

Yesterday I planted the courgette and tomato plants which now means the veg plot is full for now.

Our veg plot

There are broad beans nearest on the left. Left of the path are white onions, red onions and garlic. To the left of them are runner beans and dwarf beans. Furthest away are the tomato plants and strawberries.

To the right of the path is a row of leeks that went to seed before we used them. Alan Titchmarsh says if your leeks have gone to seed you can leave them for striking alium like flowers. They are in bud at the moment. To the right are two rows of potatoes and at the back the raspberry canes. The courgette plant is at the front on the right.

All planted

From this direction you can see the tomatoes on the right (just watered in) and behind them the beans. This should be enough to give us some veg to pick on days when we don’t visit the allotment but will be supplemented by the allotment produce.

The boys are nearly finished with their new, low level, netting frame at the allotment and once it’s finished I will post an update.

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Two broodies

As fast as some of the broodies come out of it some more start. Our current seramas are more prone to broodiness than our past seramas.

Two nights ago Flame perched at the back of the chicken shed. A little later Vanilla perched under Flame’s wing. I moved Vanilla to the amigos’ perch and she stayed put so I left Flame in the chicken shed overnight.

Last night Flame perched at the back of the chicken shed again but this time Vanilla perched with the amigos. Hurrah! After three weeks of this silly behaviour Flame and Vanilla are back to normal. Vanilla also laid a normal sized egg today.

At precisely the same time Smoke and Marmite have gone broody. There is quite a difference between these girls though. It is two months since Marmite last went broody and in that time she has laid twenty eight eggs. Smoke has laid eight eggs in eight days and gone broody again. Smoke has the record for laying the most eggs in a row but the shortest time before going broody again.

It’s such a shame because Smoke was our best layer but it seems that no sooner she started laying she is broody again. I have decided to lift the broody girls just once in the morning and once in the afternoon and then shut the nest boxes at bedtime so that they perch up for the night. I think that I just have to accept that I have a few serial broodies and lifting them less often will be less stressful for them.

Broody Marmite

Broody Smoke

Two broodies

We seem destined to have two broodies at a time but after the Flame and Vanilla behaviour I am actually relieved to be back in the realms of “normal” broody behaviour. I can also lift these two girls easily with no pecking and they use the nest boxes rather than the shed so it is easier all round.

I am just going to go with the flow!

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Vanilla’s tiny egg

I added the tiny egg to the frying pan with our breakfast eggs on Saturday morning. I took a photo but unfortunately I didn’t give the camera time to focus and it came out blurred. Because of that I didn’t use the photo but David asked in the comments if the egg had a yolk in it so I decided to show the photo. You have to excuse it being blurred.

The tiny egg in the pan with four normal serama eggs

The egg had quite a dark yolk. This is a terrible photo but it does show the size of the yolk.

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The allotment plot is progressing

We have taken out the pallet, board walk, paths on our allotment plot and replaced them with turf. The pallets became very slippery when wet and also needed lifting to weed underneath them. The turf is so much nicer to walk on.

My husband spotted a simple push lawn mower for twenty pounds in our local D.I.Y. store so he bought it for mowing the turf and the grass around our plot. He also fixed a bracket to the post in the foreground to store the hose pipe.

The allotment has a turf path running through the middle

I suggested that perhaps we should lay another turf where the soil is trodden down as this is the path from the water butt to the centre path.

The hose draped around the plot is going to be our irrigation system. We fill the water butt from the communal tap and then the hose is attached to the tap on the butt with holes in the hose, so that it will self water, or at least that is the plan.

We have had complaints about the orange netting (from a house overlooking the allotment) and are planning to lower it to just above the raised beds using the wood from the pallets as supports. This is a work in progress.

All the netted area is now turfed

We also fill this butt and use watering cans to water the raised beds. The lawn mower is parked across the plot from this water butt.

Turf around the raised beds

The raised beds

The pockets around the raised beds have had wild flower seeds sprinkled in them.

We will leave the strawberry bed uncovered so that the bees can pollinate the strawberry flowers.

There have been some honey beehives set up in a sheltered part of the allotments.

The back of the beehives

The yellow warning sign says that the bees are active and warns that you may get stung.

The front of the beehives

The bees are unlikely to sting if you don’t get in their way. We were advised not to block their flight path. They were very active but didn’t bother us. Notice the bee on the right entering the hive.

We are enjoying the process of the plot evolving and are pleased with how neat and tidy it is looking. It has also been nice to chat to other people working on their plots.

It will be fun when we start to get some produce but at the moment it quite satisfying seeing it evolve.

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A very strange phenomenon

It seems that Vanilla had completely regressed to being a chick. A weird thing happened yesterday. I saw Vanilla checking out the nest boxes in the morning. I wondered if she was getting ready to lay again. It has been three weeks since she last laid. After briefly going broody she started behaving like a chick to Flame.

I know that after being broody the girls take a break before laying again but I wondered if it would be the same after regressing to being a chick.

It was a very busy morning with egg laying. Jasmine laid first thing and then Cinnamon laid soon after. Salmon and Smoke shared a nest box and laid their eggs side by side. Marmite settled in the nest box and she always takes ages.

Spangle hasn’t laid for twelve days. I am not sure why Spangle isn’t laying which is a bit worrying but she looks fine. I had to go out and when I returned Marmite was out in the run. I checked the nest box and her egg was there alongside a tiny egg like the “first eggs” most of the seramas have laid.

I can only think that Vanilla has laid as if it’s her first egg again. This is the most serama eggs we have ever had in one day with only one girl not laying so this egg could only be from Vanilla or Spangle and as Spangle isn’t laying and hasn’t looked in a nest box today but Vanilla was looking in the nest box I think that it must be Vanilla’s egg.

Yesterday’s eggs with the tiny egg on the right

I think this must be Vanilla’s egg

It seems that Vanilla had so firmly regressed to being a chick that she has laid a “first” tiny egg again. That’s the only explanation I can think of. We seem to be having weird behaviour from our girls. It will be interesting to see if Vanilla lays again soon. Hopefully this will mean she has grown up again!

Last night I checked on the girls at half past seven. They were all out in the run except for Flame. I looked in the chicken shed and Flame was sitting in the middle of the floor spread out as wide as she could make herself. So it seems that it is Flame now continuing with this, waiting for Vanilla to come to her.

I put Flame in the crate and when I checked the girls at dusk Vanilla was perched up with the rest of the amigos. I will continue to separate Flame at bedtime until she starts perching again.

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I will continue to keep Flame separate at night

The night before last Flame was in the dog crate and when I checked on the girls after dark I was pleased to find that Vanilla had perched up at bedtime. This lulled me into a false sense of security. I decided to leave Flame with the flock last night.

I checked on the girls at dusk and was disappointed to see Flame sat on the chicken shed floor with Vanilla underneath her. Only Vanilla’s tail was sticking out. I lifted Flame and put her in the dog crate again and lifted Vanilla to the perch with the amigos where she stayed put.

This time I will stick to the regime and put Flame in the crate at night for a while longer. I should have trusted my instincts and kept up the regime but I thought that they may have been out of this by now. This isn’t happening during the day and I suppose I have to be thankful that it’s now just at night.

The girls’ turf is now completely brown but they love sitting on it especially when the sun is on it. It’s become a communal carpet.

The girls love sitting on the turf

This is now the favourite spot to chill and preen. The four missing girls are all squabbling over the nest boxes. It’s a tough life in the chicken run!

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Another plan

It was such a good day yesterday with Flame back with the flock and Flame and Vanilla staying apart that I thought we had cracked it. I was gutted when I opened the pop hole at bedtime and Flame went straight in and sat down with Vanilla immediately forcing herself underneath Flame and Flame accepting her.

But as it was said in the comments it was progress so I just to have amend the plan. Tonight at bedtime I will put Flame in the dog crate before opening the pop hole. It is no hardship to Flame to spend the night in the crate as she would spend it on the chicken shed floor anyway. It is really easy to put Flame in the crate and she is calm and settled once in there.

It is much easier and less stressful having the flock together during the day and only separating Flame at night. I will do this for a couple of nights and then try again or continue until Vanilla starts perching at bedtime.  This has to work sooner or later.

Flame

I can never understand the mentality of broodies. Flame has shown no sign of being broody during the day. She spends the day out in the run doing all the normal chicken things. So why does she switch back at bedtime!

I wonder if she thinks that her “chick” no longer needs her during the day but still needs to be kept warm at night. Who knows what goes on in their little pea brains!

In other news Jasmine looked like she was getting ready to lay again. She has only had a break of eleven days but then again last time she only took a break of seven days. Jasmine couldn’t understand why she couldn’t get in the pop hole as she likes to lay her eggs in the chicken shed just inside the pop hole.

However Jasmine did go and look at a nest box so she knows that they are there and she has laid in a nest box in the past before she took to the habit of laying in the shed. Therefore I decided to leave it to her to work out that she would need to use a nest box.

Jasmine looks for the pop hole

Jasmine checks out a nest box

Jasmine checks out the pop hole again

I returned a short time later and Jasmine was settled in a nest box. What a clever girl she is.

Jasmine settled in a nest box

I went back to check and Jasmine came out of the nest box shouting. I checked and there was no egg. This isn’t unusual for these girls. Spangle, Marmite and Salmon often sit in a nest box and come out without laying. It seems to be a serama thing and Jasmine may need some practise.

Jasmine returned to the nest box and this time she laid a very, small, round egg. Well done Jasmine.

What was very odd though is that I checked the next nest box and there was Flame with some pine shavings on her back.

Flame in the nest box with pine shavings on her back

This would signal that Flame is getting ready to lay again. Perhaps she had stopped being broody but had got lulled into thinking that she had a chick in Vanilla. It is all very odd.

I checked back later and Flame was still in the nest box. I lifted her and found that she was sat on a serama egg which I think belonged to Salmon as she had been in the nest box earlier. I put Flame into the run and she ran off and started scratching about. I really have no idea what is going on with her.

Flame stayed out for the rest of the day so I think she may be coming back into lay and also needs a bit of practice.

I will put Flame in the crate overnight and put her back in the run in the morning. Who knows what tomorrow will bring with our crazy Flock. I am  much happier with this progress than the previous situation with Flame and Vanilla glued together all day. I can much better cope with just a night time separation and feel more confident now that we will soon move past this and back to normality.

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