We have sussed what is going on with Flame

Flame is broody, or actually not quite, she wants to be broody. All day yesterday she was manically running up and down the patio area and in out of the shed. She was no longer digging or flicking out the shavings or going to the other nest boxes.

Flame did this for the entire day and didn’t lay an egg. This morning I found her egg under her roost spot. There was no deep hole dug out or any shavings scratched out of the shed. It appears as if her mania the day before stopped her laying and she had just dropped her egg first thing in the morning.

Ebony went on to lay her egg in her usual nest box a little later this morning. Neither girls had laid the day before.

We then realised that Flame was for looking eggs. She was running into the shed and looking in each of the corners. We now think that all the digging out shavings was nest building and she is now looking for eggs to sit on.

The difference between these game girls and my other girls is that they have been used as broodies by their breeder. They have been used to sitting on a clutch of eggs and then hatching them.

Cinnamon has never had an egg to sit on and was responding to her instinct and hormones. She wanted to perch in the shed and wasn’t deterred by the fact that not only were there no eggs to sit on but the perch wouldn’t make a suitable place to sit anyway. I am tempted to say “bird of little brain” despite how much I love her.

Flame on the other hand has sat on a clutch of eggs. She knows that she needs to find some eggs to sit on. She is making a mournful little sound while looking in all four corners of the shed. It seems almost cruel not let her have eggs to sit on but we don’t want to encourage broody behaviour.

I hope that after a few days she will give up and probably stop laying too. She will then get over it and settle down. At least we know what her problem is now.

Flame – are you looking at me!

Is my egg here?

Or is it here?

Is it here?

Is it in this corner?

I feel happier now that we know what is going on with her and it will hopefully soon pass. Chickens! There is always something.

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Unknown benefit to the leak

This is totally in hind sight as things often are. It wasn’t until after our recent water problem that we suddenly noticed something about the plants growing against our neighbour’s fence.

It’s been an exceptionally hot and dry summer with a few plants suffering as you would expect.

Our honeysuckle after a heat wave summer

It’s looking a bit brown and some leaves have turned yellow and dropped off but it will come back next year.

In the other direction everything is lush and green

How did we not notice the contrast of these plants which are looking their best ever. We now think that they may have had their own irrigation system from the leak which may have been trickling away long before we became aware of it.

Here is our unfixed stop cock on our unspoilt patio, hurrah!

The guy managed to get this flat again and it looks much the same as it ever did with our patio remaining intact. We are so happy with this result.

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Water problem fixed

Our “home serve” guy turned up this morning and he was amazing. He didn’t want to disturb our bricks on our patio if at all possible. He managed to get his hand in to the stop cock and with the help of a torch and eventually my tweezers he got all the bits out through the narrow space.

He put the new tap on and it still didn’t work. He said he had never come across this before and he was rather perplexed.

He then listened to the water running at the stop cock at the end of our neighbour’s drive and said that it was much louder there. He then did what three water board men hadn’t done and lifted the drain cover on our neighbour’s drive. The water was running through the open pipe like a river.

Running water in the open pipe inside the drain

It’s difficult to see but the red colour at the back is the pipe and the white shine is the running water. This showed that the water was running from outside our neighbour’s house towards the road.

The guy then prodded the soil on their side of the fence and water immediately bubbled up and ran down their side of the fence.

Water coming up from our neighbour’s side of the fence

Water running down our neighbour’s side of the fence

At this point the guy said that he would need to lift our neighbour’s flag to get to the t junction which was where he was sure the leak was but he would need their permission. We had taken their phone number that morning so we called them. Once he had their permission he set about lifting the flag which had been fitted by “dot and dab” so was easy to lift.

At this point I had to go and deliver my lunches. When I returned at lunch time it was fixed. The neighbour’s slab was back down and didn’t look any different to before.

The pipe

This was the section of pipe that the guy cut out.

The offending hole in the pipe

This was the hole that had caused all the trouble. We were so relieved that the problem had been fixed without causing any damage.

The guy said that there was no point in damaging our patio to fix our stop cock as we can use the one at the end of our neighbour’s drive if we ever need to turn off the water. It turns the water off to all four houses. Ours may never have worked so he said to just leave it be.

We were so lucky to have had a guy that really cared about causing as little damage as possible. He said it is always best to look at the drain first and we feel a bit cross that the water board didn’t do this.

We are just so happy to have it all resolved and no damage is really an added bonus.

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We have a deranged chicken

We are quite sure that Flame is deranged. When I decided to add two more game girls I was influenced by the fact that Toffee and Emerald were gentle, quiet, girls. I thought that was how game girls were and to be honest I hoped to have another Toffee and Emerald.

Ebony and Flame couldn’t be more different. They are loud and shouty and Flame seems demented. They have blended into the rest of the flock perfectly and the flock get on really well and there is no bullying. You would think that they had always been together. It was our easiest integration and they sit together in harmony.

It’s just their egg laying habits that are causing mayhem. When Ebony is in the nest box Flame shouts and when Flame is in the nest box Ebony shouts and boy is it loud. They are the loudest girls we have ever had.

Ebony has adjusted to the high nest box. She goes in and settles and then lays her egg and comes out again just like any normal chicken and just as you would expect.

Flame is a different matter. She will manically run from the chicken shed to both nest boxes. She digs and digs and throws all the shavings out of all three places. It wouldn’t be so bad if she just did this for a while before she laid her egg but she sometimes does it for an entire day!

Flame is a prolific layer with her best record, since being with us, being twelve days before taking just one day off so her egg laying antics are quite a pain. Like all girls that lay every day she lays an hour or two later each day as it takes about twenty six hours for a hen to produce and lay an egg.

Recently she laid her egg at four in the afternoon so I knew that her next egg would be due at about six o’clock. She started her manic behaviour at ten o’clock in the morning. She spent the entire day running from the shed to the nest boxes and throwing all the shavings out.

In the meantime Ebony needed to lay her egg so she went in the high nest box while Flame was in the shed. This caused Flame to shout her head off when she realised. Eventually Ebony laid her egg and Flame continued for the rest of the day with this behaviour until finally laying her egg in the high nest box at six o’clock as I had predicted. From then on she was calm and normal again.

The chicken shed

The patio nest box

The high nest box

And there is the manic Flame! I feel like this behaviour must be stressful for Flame too and I just don’t know why she is doing this. I can’t work out what she doesn’t like about any of the nest box choices. I have given up putting the shavings back in until the end of the day because it had become a never ending job.

Some days she is worse than others by which I mean that some days she does it for longer periods of time than other days. I just hope that they take their end of year break soon. I never thought I would find myself hoping they would stop laying.

I hope that after a winter break she will have forgotten whatever it was that she thought she needed before and will just accept the nest boxes we have. I intend to put the high nest box back in it’s usual position on the patio over winter and I hope in spring the game girls will find the nest boxes and accept them.

This is a problem that I could never have imagined would arise. I had hoped that over time Flame would settle down but she seems to have got worse with time. I can only hope that things will calm down over winter and that in spring these two will be used to our set up.

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This and that

Once again I have had a break from blogging and while, as I’ve said before, I don’t like to get too personal here but we have sadly just lost a third family member in four months and our lives have been in a bit of turmoil of late.

Added to that we got back from a weekend away at a friend’s sixtieth birthday get together to the sound of running water in our kitchen. The next morning our neighbours who are joined to us (Edwardian semi detached) came round to say that they could hear running water in their kitchen and it was even louder than ours.

We could find no evidence of water any where and turning off both houses internal stop cocks made no difference. We then tried to turn off our external stop cock which is on our patio outside the kitchen and found that it didn’t work.

Outside stop cock

It’s the black square on the left of the patio.

Open

We could only undo three screws as the other one wouldn’t turn at all. We were able to pry it up like this. It has a little water in it and a little movement of the water.

We called out “home serve” who we have insurance with but they sent a plumber who couldn’t deal with anything that is outside.

Our neighbours in the meantime had called out the water board. They came the next day and identified a stop cock at the end of our neighbours property on the other side and this turned off the water to all four houses (two Edwardian semis). He then turned the water back on and listened to our outside stop cock. He said the leak appeared to be close to this as far as could tell.

It turns out that one water supply goes to all four houses and the pipes are buried deep underground. In the meantime all four houses have had kitchen extensions built over the original pipework, long before our time, I might add.

We have “home serve” coming out again on Friday and they will attempt to dig out our outside stop cock and replace it with a working one. They will then turn it off and see what happens. The water board felt that the leak must be close to our outside stop cock.

If it is the direction of our house they may need to dig up our kitchen floor. If it is in the direction of next door they will have to dig up our boundary and their path.

The whole thing has been very stressful but now that we have established that water isn’t coming into the houses we feel a bit happier although we do wonder where all the water is going. It has been running since Sunday evening.

We have been getting our heads round the possibility of our patio being ruined at best and our kitchen floor being ruined at worst but we will just to have to have them redone if necessary. The insurance will cover making good whatever they disrupt but not matching the surroundings. They will contribute and we will have to make up the difference but we are now resigned to this.

With the many phone calls and visits to neighbours and various water people visiting us there hasn’t been any time for blogging.

In case anyone hasn’t seem the comments, when we got back at four o’clock on Sunday Cinnamon was out in the run and has been ever since. After three weeks she is over her broody spell. The girls were all fine and the three bigger girls had slept outside once more as was evident from the poop under the high branch perch.

I removed the plastic square from behind the perch on the other side of the hatch and threw it away. There were two eggs from Ebony and Flame in the high nest box and one from Dandelion in the patio nest box. We ate those the next morning for breakfast as they had been out of the fridge but not in high temperatures.

The double holly hock that I photographed in an earlier post is now over but another stem has shot up since we have been away with single blooms. This all came from one pot so we have two for the price of one.

Hollyhock

Echinacea

We planted this earlier in the year and it is giving a bright splash of colour. It was so small that I didn’t really expect it to flower this year.

I will update on the water situation when I know more and will be back to chicken news quite soon.

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Line up and leg length

When I went to check on the girls the little girls were all in a line. It was as if someone had called them to stand in line.

Line up

Speckles joins the line

For some time I have thought that the silky chicks have longer legs than any of my previous or current seramas. They seem to stand taller. Whereas with Dandelion and Cinnamon and before them Rusty and Apricot, only their feet could be seen, with these two girls their legs can be seen.

Jasmine and Sienna

Dandelion

Cinnamon

Jasmine

Sienna

I looked back through my “History Of The Flock Part Two” and all the portraits of all the seramas I have had only show their feet. I think these girls may be different because they came from a different breeder.

It is interesting to see how different they are and I rather like their taller look. It makes them individual. They are lovely looking girls.

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Broody Cinnamon

Cinnamon is usually a good egg layer. She lays every other day and occasionally two days in a row. Every now and then she would have a broody moment. It only ever took one to two days of shutting her out of the nest box and chicken shed and she was over it. She then resumed laying after two weeks from when she had stopped.

This has been so different. She has now been broody for three weeks even though she is shut out all day, every day. I have wondered if the hot weather had something to do with it. I closed the nest box on the patio as none of the girls were using it anyway. The three bigger girls like the high nest box and Dandelion likes the shed or will lay her egg in the wooden shelter.

I have kept the shed closed until just before the girls like to go in at bedtime which is between half past seven and eight o’clock.

Every morning when I go out to the girls they are all out in the run except for Cinnamon. I lift her down from her perch and put her in the run with some corn.

Cinnamon is like no other broody. What she wants to do is to sit on her perch in the chicken shed all the time with her wings spread wide and her tail up. She doesn’t sit in a suitable place to sit on an egg like your normal broody. You may remember that when she first came into lay she would lay her eggs from the perch. It took her a while to get used to the nest box.

Cinnamon is also an angry broody and will peck me if I pick her up. She chases Flame and Ebony and will sometimes grab their feathers and get pulled along by them as they run from her. I have even seen her jump up and grab Flame’s feathers on the back of her neck. Cinnamon has no concept of her tiny size compared to these much bigger girls.

Occasionally I have let Dandelion in the shed to lay and Cinnamon has run in too. She seems to have a sixth sense for when I open the shed. I tried to get her out but she would peck me. I resorted to using the broom to edge her out and she spread her wings as wide as possible and puffed her self up. I have never seen such an angry bird and that includes Topaz ( my past angry broody) which is really saying something.

The reason I have been trying to break her out of this is because I knew we were going to be away overnight last Monday and again this Saturday. I didn’t want her to spend two days in the chicken shed, in the heat that we have been having, while we were away. Also she eats only the bare minimal amount and for three weeks there has been no poop underneath her roost spot at night.

I thought there would have been plenty of time to break her of this but it seems not and we had to go away and just leave her to it. There was nothing more I could do.

When we got at back at one o’clock on Tuesday aftrnoon Cinnamon was in the chicken shed. I am sure she had been there most of the time we were away but she looked fine. I started the regime again of shutting her out in the faint hope that I might change her behaviour before Saturday when we are away again.

I rather doubt that is going to happen though and think that I will probably just have to accept that she will once again spend most of the time we are away in the chicken shed. At least the forecast is for cooler temperatures this time.

While Cinnamon is shut out of the shed she spends most of time on the high branch perch. She will have a quick dust bath and will also spend some time sitting on the run floor but she is always on high alert if I go near the chicken shed and every time I go in the run she hovers around the shed just in case she can get in.

At bedtime when I open the, Chicken shed, pop hole again Cinnamon can’t get in there quick enough. Dandelion has moved from perching with the chicks to perching back with Cinnamon over the last few nights. I took some photos of last night’s bedtime positions.

Broody Cinnamon

This is how Cinnamon looks all the time. How can a girl be so broody when on a perch! It makes no sense.

The chicks make their way in about half an hour later

The bigger girls

The bigger girls perch here until I come and move them at dusk. They slept out on Monday night as I could tell by the huge amount of poop under this spot. They will no doubt sleep out again on Saturday night too but after that the usual routine will be resumed.

I have never come across a girl quite like Cinnamon and while her behaviour frustrates me I can’t help admiring her at the same time. She is as determined as they come and is afraid of neither me or the bigger girls. She is definitely one of a kind and is very much her own special character.

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Scrambled egg for the girls

I have had to take a break from my blog. First we were catering a wedding and then we were away for a few days, sadly, at a family funeral. I don’t usually add personal details here but this is just by way of explaining my absence.

On our return there were eggs from Ebony and Flame in the high nest box which I knew would have been laid the day before. I therefore decided to scramble them with a little water and olive oil and give them back to the girls.

As usual the chicks were very cautious. Ebony is fine about trying anything new and had some straight away. Speckles, Dandelion and Cinnamon have had egg before so they got stuck in. Flame is quite slow to try new things but soon the hang of it. The chicks took their time though. They circled the dish with their necks at full stretch.

Flame tries some egg

The usual neck stretch to see if the egg is safe

They try stretching from the other direction

It takes these girls a lot of neck stretching before they have the courage to try anything new from a dish. I ended up putting a bit of egg on the slab to help them along a bit. They very cautiously tried a bit.

The old flock would have demolished the egg in minutes. I guess these girls will get used to the treats in time. They are funny to watch with anything new.

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Bonding

It was lovely, yesterday, to see the three bigger girls dust bathing together. The favourite dust bath spot for the bigger girls, since the hot weather, is under the metal table. It is in shade all day and I dampen the soil once a day and being shady it stays a bit damp.

It’s not great for photos though, because of the table legs, but I managed one reasonable shot.

Dust bathing together

It is good to see these girls doing a bit of bonding.

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New bedtime position

Attaching the square of plastic behind the bigger girls bedtime perch has sort of worked. It has put them off perching there and last night they perched at the bottom of the run on the branch perch above the ladder instead.

This perch was always Emerald’s and Speckles favourite bedtime perch and I am not sure what made them switch to a different perch in the first place.

The new bedtime position

I am okay with them perching there as it is away from the weld mesh. It is a sort of “mission accomplished”.

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