Primula denticulata

I love these primroses and we have planted them a few times in the garden and have had them disappear. I thought we had lost them all and then we spotted this one appearing through the spring flowers.

Primula denticulata

It is so pretty.

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Dandelion lays an egg with a good shell

I was really, pleasantly, surprised today to find that Dandelion had laid an egg with a good shell. By a process of elimination it must be her egg. Cinnamon has laid two days running, yesterday and the day before, and has never laid more than two days running. Freckles is yet to start laying after going broody.

Dandelion had visited the nest box briefly the day before and the size was the same small size as her soft shelled egg in comparison to Cinnamon’s.

Dandelion lays an egg with a good shell

Dandelion’s egg is on the left and Cinnamon’s egg is on the right. This is such a good sign. Maybe at last Dandelion is going to get in the swing of egg laying. She is looking so good at the moment.

Emerald has also laid three eggs, laying every other day and Speckles has stopped doing sloppy poops probably because of the dry weather and no rain drips to drink.

I lifted Freckles from the nest box every time I went up to the girls and after only two days she has given up so that is also good news. Things seem to be improving all round in the chicken run.

And at last we have summer weather. I opened up the roof panels in the run and the girls had a massive dust bathing session.

Another clump of my bargain tulips have opened in the sun.

The sun has opened the next clump of tulips.

I have talked of the pulmonaria taking over the garden and as you can see the tulips are surrounded by it with a little self seeded forget me not thrown in.

It is so good to have some sun at last and it is forecast to last through the weekend, hurrah!

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The veg plot is planted

Today we got the veg plot planted. It looks a bit pathetic at the moment but I will take a comparison photo when it has got going.

The veg plot is planted

We have early potatoes and main crop potatoes. We have runner beans and dwarf beans. We have courgettes and tomatoes and broad beans and leeks. There is a bit of space left for some leaves for the chooks. It will be interesting to see how well we do this year.

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Dandelion’s first egg of the year at last

When I opened the chicken shed this morning to poop pick I found Dandelion’s first egg of the year. It was between her roost spot and the pop hole as if she had just dropped it on her way out of the chicken shed. It was soft shelled as I had suspected it would be.

Dandelion’s first egg of the year

Cinnamon’s egg for size comparison

It was quite small which is a good thing as they are harder to pass with soft shells. Dandelion looked absolutely fine.

This means we now have all the girls laying but as I had suspected it looks as if Dandelion will continue with her egg laying problem. Her eggs have been like this since she started laying last year no matter how much limestone flour and cod liver oil or baked, crushed, egg shells I gave her. It seems that when they start with a problem like this it will always remain so as I found with Amber before Dandelion.

Dandelion looks bright and normal this morning though so I hope that she will just manage this. We had Amber for four years, so although I have never expected Dandelion to be a long lived girl, you never can tell. Having had Rusty and Apricot for only a year I feel that any time we have with Dandelion is a bonus.

Some good news is that Emerald and Speckles have been going in the chicken shed at bedtime, for the last three nights, since I blocked their two favourite perches. I will keep the perches blocked for a while until I am sure a new habit has been established.

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We seem to have skipped spring and gone straight to summer

This winter and spring the weather has been absolutely awful and then yesterday out of the blue we had an amazing sunny day.

Dandelion sunning herself

Freckles and Cinnamon dust bathing

Baby slow worm looking for the sun

A fifty pence piece for size comparison

The hanging basket looks amazing

The cherry tree is in blossom

The tulips have opened

This was the bargain pot that I split in two

Some late daffs

The veg plot is ready for planting

Emerald is back in the nest box

Emerald lays an egg

Speckles egg is on the left, Emerald’s egg is in the middle and Freckles egg is on the right.

I am so pleased that Speckles laid the day before yesterday and Emerald laid yesterday as it shows that they are both in good health and it was probably the awful weather holding them back. Dandelion is the only girl yet to lay but she looks okay at the moment.

After such a sunny day it suddenly changed to rain by dinner time and when I checked the girls at bedtime Emerald and Speckles had gone in to the chicken shed. For the first time I left Dandelion on her own perch. It is warm enough now to let the girls perch where they want to as long as it’s in the chicken shed.

Tomorrow we will plant the veg plot.

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Further efforts to change the bedtime habit

My efforts so far to change the bedtime habit haven’t worked. I have been lifting the two bigger girls from the perch over the hatch every evening at half past seven and putting them in. At least I lift one and the other just follows. I have been alternating each evening. I pick up Emerald one evening and Speckles follows and then pick up Speckles the next evening and Emerald follows.

I thought that as they don’t like being picked up it might encourage them to go in by themselves. They don’t particularly like being picked up but it isn’t enough to stop them perching outside at bedtime.

I need to break this habit as there are a few occasions coming up when we will be away overnight. If they perch outside and it rains in the night they will get wet. It’s time to have a change of strategy.

Last night I blocked the favourite perch over the hatch. This time I put a brush either side of the hatch door so that none of the perch was exposed. I then covered the second favourite perch on the other side of the hatch with a sheet of tarpaulin.

I wondered if they would then perch at the bottom of the run above the ladder but I thought I would start with the two favourite bedtime perches and see what happened.

I went out at half past seven and was really pleased to see that it had worked and all the girls were in.

The favourite bedtime perch is completely blocked

The second favourite bedtime perch is also blocked

It worked and the two bigger girls went in the shed at at bedtime

Hurrah! I plan to leave the two perches blocked for a week to see if this breaks the habit. The girls don’t use those perches during the day as they prefer the perches over the ladders which get the sun if there is any.

Maybe this is one problem solved but I will see what happens tonight before I get too carried away. I am hopeful.

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Freckles is broody and Speckles finally lays again

I had a feeling that Freckles was about to go broody. After laying her last two eggs she lingered in the nest box. When I lifted her out she accepted it and didn’t return to the nest box but she was making the broody sound – chuf chuf, chuf chuf.

This morning she went into the nest box and when I lifted the lid her tail rose up in a fan over her back. I now know this is a serama sign for  broody. When I first saw Freckles do this last year I had no idea what it meant and was quite concerned.  I have since gained experience with seramas and this is a sure broody sign.

Freckles is broody

I lift Freckles out of the nest box

This is another sure sign. When I lift her out she remains in the same position. I took her to the run and encouraged her to move off.

This is a shame as she is the best layer and we only have two girls laying. This means Freckles will now take a break from laying and that will leave Cinnamon as our only egg laying girl.

Freckles has laid twenty four eggs in the last month and a half and Cinnamon has laid nineteen eggs in the same time.

Dandelion continues to look brighter but still hasn’t laid an egg and is no longer going to the nest box so maybe it was a false alarm. Speckles, Emerald and Dandelion have now all had spells in the nest box with no eggs arriving.

I am continuing with the tylan to be on the safe side as I not really sure what is going on with Dandelion. Tomorrow will be day five of the tylan.

The next time I checked on the girls Speckles was in the nest box.

Speckles is back in the nest box

Emerald soon comes to watch over her

These two are such firm friends that one can’t do anything without the other being there too. Speckles came out a little later without laying once again. She is obviously feeling that she should be laying.

When I next checked Speckles was settled in the other nest box and was purring to herself. That sounded like an egg was imminent.

Speckles is settled in the other nest box

You can just see Emerald’s leg at the ramp. She is still keeping a vigil over Speckles.

The next time I went up to check Speckles was back out in the run and I lifted the nest box lid with baited breath. Yes, at last their was her egg.

Speckles egg on the left and freckles egg on the right

I felt so pleased, not because of the egg so much but because it means she is okay. I had started wondering if there was something adrift with her. Oh well one girl stops laying and another girls starts!

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More non egg laying activities

Dandelion has looked a bit brighter today and hasn’t gone to the nest box at all. Freckles and Cinnamon both laid their egg.

Speckles sat in the nest box with a little heap of pine shavings on her back while Emerald kept her company.

Speckles is in the nest box with Emerald keeping her company

Emerald greets me

Later they were back in the run and I checked the nest box. Still no egg. They must think they should be laying but it’s just not happening. It’s all a bit weird.

A few days ago we saw the first baby slow worm of the year in the same spot as last year.

Our first baby slow worm of the year

My thumb for a size comparison

It is good to know that they are still breeding in our garden.

At the end of the day Dandelion hadn’t visited the nest box or laid her egg (she used to lay it in the run sometimes) but she seemed a bit brighter so we will just have to wait to see how she goes.

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Almost egg laying

Yesterday morning Dandelion seemed brighter first thing and she joined in with the morning sunflower seeds and had some mash. I decided not to bring her into the bathroom again as she was eating okay.

As the morning went on she started to look poorly again. By lunch time she had settled back in the nest box so I now think this is an egg related issue.

Emerald also sat in the nest box for a little while with a heap of pine shavings on her back. By the time I went back with my camera she had left the nest box and there was no egg.

Emerald looking in the nest box

Dandelion in the nest box again

Emerald must be feeling as if she wants to lay. She is very late this year and she only she has a short egg laying season. She usually lays from the beginning of March to the beginning of May so she is already half way through her laying season. I was beginning to think that perhaps she had stopped laying due to her age but you never know.

Speckles is still doing sloppy poops and still not laying. She laid five eggs in ten days at the beginning of March and hasn’t laid since. She is still obsessed with drinking rain drips from the weld mesh and I am guessing that until the weather changes she will continue like this. Unfortunately we are forecast another week of rain.

Speckles looks fine in every other way and still has a huge, red, comb so I am not going to worry too much. There is nothing I can do anyway.

We have never had so few eggs at this time of year. Apricot never started to lay and Dandelion is obviously struggling to start. Emerald and Speckles have always laid at this time of year before but as long as they are okay I am not bothered about that. It is more of a problem that Dandelion is having such a struggle to lay.

After several hours in the nest box Dandelion gave up once more without laying. I feel so helpless as there is nothing I can do to help her lay. I gave her some chopped grape to keep her strength up and once more dripped some tylan water into her beak as I hadn’t seen her drink.

There is nothing more I can do to help her but just wait to see if she will eventually get her egg laid.

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As always it seems to go from one thing to another

The day we lost Apricot, Dandelion started to look really poorly. She didn’t even come for the bedtime corn which I knew was a bad sign. She went into the chicken shed to her usual spot but without Apricot this meant she was on her own.

I didn’t like to think of her on her own so I lifted her across to the perch on the left next to Cinnamon and Freckles.

Dandelion looks poorly

My first thought was that she ready to lay again and struggling with a soft shelled egg as I have seen this with her last year. Her face is so red that I thought this was probably what the problem was and that once she had laid she would bounce back again.

However the next morning she showed no interest in the morning sunflower hearts. She didn’t appear to be eating or drinking. I decided to bring her in, in the cat box and try to tempt her with some mash, sunflower hearts and chopped grape.

Dandelion has always disliked competition and has always been last to the treats so I thought if I separated her I could tempt her to eat.

Dandelion in the cat box

Dandelion attempted to eat some grape. She dropped a few bits but managed to eat one bit. She then stood in the food dish as she attempted to find a way out of the cat box. She obviously didn’t want to be in there.

I decided to let her have free range of the bathroom. I lifted the rug and everything from the floor and put her dishes in front of her. She started to eat from the dish.

At this point I could hear a faint whisper of a wheeze in her breathing as she ate and detected a slight sweet smell from her. Suddenly I thought that maybe this wasn’t an egg problem but the dreaded mycoplasma again.

Dandelion free ranges in the bathroom

Stress can make it resurface and I think perhaps perching next to Apricot and seeing her fall from the perch and die would have given her a shock.

I decided to start back on the tylan in the water and in dishes of mash. If I am wrong there will be no harm done but if I am right it may save Dandelion and protect the rest of the girls.

I found that if I dropped bits of mash, seeds and grape in front of Dandelion she would eat them. This seemed to give her her strength back. I knew there was a chance she wouldn’t drink the water any time soon so I decided to give her start on it by using a syringe to drip some of the tylan water into her beak.

Once she had had food and water she seemed to perk up and I thought she would probably be happier back with the flock.

I put her back in the run and she looked brighter than she had done and her flock mates immediately  surrounded her.

Dandelion looks brighter back with her flock mates

I decided to give her some more tylan water in the afternoon and hopefully that would be enough to start her eating and drinking again.

After losing Apricot I can’t bear to think of losing another girl so soon. Having got Dandelion through the awful winter I can’t give up on her now.

Later in the afternoon we checked on her again and she was in the nest box. Maybe I was right first time after all.

Dandelion is in a nest box

Cinnamon is also in a nest box

It was good to see Cinnamon in the nest box as she hasn’t laid for a week and I was beginning to wonder why she had stopped. Freckles continues to lay every other day.

Cinnamon soon laid her egg and Dandelion sat in the nest box for a very long time. Eventually she came out shouting and I checked to find that there was no egg. She has done this in the past and may lay her egg tomorrow. She may even lay it in the run as this is what was happening last year.

What an up and down day! I will continue to treat with tylan for five days just to be on the safe side and at the very least it protects the girls.

By the end of the day Dandelion looked poorly again. She went to her usual roost spot and once again I moved her next to Cinnamon and Freckles. I had to put the two bigger girls in.

In the morning I will bring Dandelion into the bathroom again to make sure she gets some food including chopped grape to give her a boost. I hope this will keep her strength up so that she can get her egg laid. We will have to see what tomorrow brings.

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