Serama portraits

I am updating the serama portraits as the girls are all pretty much grown up now. I am going to do them in their pecking order from top to bottom.

There is a bit of blurring around the top position of the amigos. Smoke was firmly in top position when we first got them but Spangle and Vanilla have had little spats with Smoke as they have tried to move up the ranking. I think Smoke has retained top position with Spangle second and Vanilla third but they are so close that they could be joint top girls.

Salmon is next and Marmite remains firmly at the bottom. She is the most timid amongst her flock mates.

Dandelion

I always think Dandelion looks very queenly.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a tiny girl with an enormous crop/breast. She remains an avid digger of the deepest dust holes.

Sienna

Sienna grows to look more like Rusty every day but doesn’t have the aggression Rusty had to her underlings.

Jasmine

Jasmine is a sweet girl in looks and nature.

Smoke

All the seramas including Marmite have yellow legs and feet but Smoke has grey legs and feet to match her feather colour. She is a beautiful colour.

Spangle

Spangle is the most bold around me and therefore easy to get close ups. She has unusual markings.

Vanilla

I have been hand feeding spinach to Vanilla in an attempt to make her more accepting of me so that maybe she won’t peck me. She has been friendlier today and has also become easier to get close up photos of.

Salmon

Salmon is so pretty and also sweet natured. She is almost as tiny as Cinnamon, in fact, she is between Cinnamon’s size and the other girls’ size.  She once jumped on to my back but hasn’t repeated it since.

Marmite

Marmite is shy. She has had pins on her head since we first had her but I guess they show up more on her. She is a lovely colour too.

I think they are all such beautiful girls and I love the different colours and different characters.

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Autumn berries

It’s been a good year for autumn berries. I hope that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a harsh winter as, the old wives tale, goes.

Earlier in the year I photographed the three coloured berries of our climbing plant which, with a bit of research, turned out to be amur peppervine or porcelain berries. These have now all turned blue.

The pirocanthus which is growing with it has retained it’s glorious red berries.

Blue coloured berries

Amazing red berries

Blue and red berries together

These berries give us a splash of colour to look out on from our kitchen window. They are as striking as the wonderful autumn leaves that are all around at the moment. The autumn  beauty is lingering this year which is lovely.

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Vanilla

Out of the five amigos Vanilla has changed the most. The other four have stayed the same colour but Vanilla has completely changed.

When I named her Vanilla it was because she was the colour of vanilla ice cream with a few little spots of gold which reminded me of honeycomb. Honeycomb would now be a more suitable name for her as she is now mostly gold/honeycomb colour.

Vanilla had a dark patch of feathers on her head which have disappeared. She had a white tail which gradually dropped out and grew back in a gold colour.

Vanilla when we first got the amigos in August

Vanilla has a patch of dark feathers on her head

Vanilla at bedtime in September

Vanilla is starting to lose her tail

Vanilla had no tail by the end of September

Vanilla in November

Vanilla facing forward

Vanilla now looks quite different. Marmite was the only other of the amigos to lose her tail but it came back the same colour.

Vanilla is also the only serama that pecks me. I can easily pick up all the little girls except Vanilla who pecks my hand if I get anywhere near her.

Ebony and Flame will peck me if they are in the nest box and I want to check for eggs but that is the only time which, I think, is fair enough. Cinnamon will peck me if she is broody and I try to move her but that is the only time which again is fair enough. Vanilla on the other hand won’t let me near her without pecking me which is not very endearing.

I have discovered this when trying to help them at bedtime. Sometimes amongst the squabbles to get into position one of the amigos will get pushed down and I will replace them on the perch but Vanilla goes for me.

Yesterday they got caught out as it went dark really suddenly. I always check on them at dusk so they are used to me going out to them when they are perched or getting perched. I could hear a lot of shouting, especially from the bigger girls. I went to investigate and found that the pop hole had closed with most of the girls outside.

Only Cinnamon, Dandelion and Jasmine were inside. These three girls are always the first in. I thought it was interesting that the girls outside were shouting as if they knew I would come and help them in. I hooked the main door open and put a torch on the floor. This usually works when Speckles doesn’t make it in in time and earlier in the year when the three bigger girls weren’t going in before the pop hole closed.

Sienna and the three bigger girls went through the open door and jumped up to the back perch. This is a demonstration of the little girls’ pea brains. The amigos hadn’t entered the shed through the door before, unlike all the other girls. They just didn’t understand the concept of going in through the door.

I tried to shepherd them through the open door but they flew round me and waited at the pop hole each time. In the end I had to give in and lift the pop hole and they all filed through it! While trying to direct them to the open door Vanilla was pecking my hands.

Once in I lifted some of them to the perch but again Vanilla would peck my hand every time I got near her. I ended up pointing the torch to a space on the perch and letting her jump up herself.

It shows how different their characters are but I don’t know why Vanilla is so apposed to me when I am the giver of treats and have never done anything other than be kind to them. There again Topaz was the same. It’s just more surprising because seramas in general seem such friendly little girls. I hope that in time Vanilla may mellow towards me.

Tonight all the girls made it in in time. Hopefully they have learned not to leave it too late in future.

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Rose bud in November

Our weather is crazy at the moment. We had several mornings with frosts, some mornings with fog, some wind and rain, some blue skies and sunshine and today 18 degrees C/ 65 degrees F.

The last hosta bud is still hanging in there but I think it’s unlikely to open fully and we have the odd rose bud.

Rose bud in November

It is very late in the year for rose buds. I am not complaining though as it is a welcome reprieve in the weather. The longer forecast is saying we will be getting storms, later this month, bringing high winds and heavy rain. I am not looking forward to that. I will make the most of the milder weather we are enjoying at the moment.

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More about the game girls

This post was also inspired by a comment from Sophie. Sophie said that she hadn’t realised that the game girls were crossed with wyndottes. In truth I hadn’t realised until I remarked to the farmer/breeder that Ebony’s comb was much bigger than Emerald’s comb had been.

He told me that was the wyndotte in her. I then realised that she is actually the same shape as a wyndotte and the only thing that is the same as Emerald is her colour.

I have decided to do a comparison between Emerald and Toffee with Flame and Ebony and also Topaz to show the similarity.

Emerald had a tiny comb

Emerald had a long neck and bottle shaped shoulders

Toffee also had a long neck

Toffee also had a long tail but was moulting here. There is another photo further down showing her tail.

Toffee’s breast feathers and her upright, single, comb.

Emerald is looking tatty due to her moult. Emerald always had a tatty moult and always lost her tail completely. It will be interesting to see how Ebony moults.

Emerald and Topaz

Having some yogurt

I had thought of the vorweks as smaller but in fact it is more that they have short legs. Honey is in the centre of the photo. Peaches and Barley had a slimmer build but longer legs.

Toffee, Emerald and Topaz with Honey, Peaches and Barley

Toffee had a long, narrow, tail. By this photo we had sadly lost Sparkle.

Ebony

Ebony has a wyndotte shape and wyndotte comb and lobes.

Flame

Flame has more of a game shape but she has more of the gold wyndotte feathers and a smaller wyndotte comb but not the lobes like Ebony. If you compare Toffee’s comb it is thinner and taller.

It is interesting to see how much the farmer’s girls have evolved over the five years since I collected Emerald and Toffee. I don’t know how long he had been breeding silver wyndottes but he had only just started breeding gold wyndottes because he sold me Topaz with a little reluctance as it was his first year breeding them and he hadn’t built up a large stock at that stage. We collected Topaz and Sparkle two months earlier than Emerald and Toffee.

When I talked to the farmer, while collecting Ebony, I told him that we had thought of Topaz as “angry bird”, that she had attitude and would peck me if I got in her way. He said that for some reason the gold laced wnydottes tend to be like that and that he hadn’t been able to breed that out of them.

Sparkle, my silver laced wnydotte, was a gentle character and easy to handle.

There is definitely quite a difference between Emerald and Toffee compared to Ebony and Flame. I have to admit that I miss Emerald’s sleek, game girl, shape and sweet, tiny comb. She was such favourite of mine. I thought she was such a beautiful girl and she had a lovely, sweet, nature.

I love my current flock but I still miss Emerald. She had a very special place in my heart.

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The three bigger girls

In the comments Sophie asked if the game girls were bigger in size than bantams usually are so I thought I would do a comparison of size between the three bigger girls. I would say that they are the usual bantam size although bantams vary a bit. My vorwerks were smaller in size than my current bigger three girls.

The Wyandottes were chunky but not as tall as the game girls. Speckles and the game girls are about the same height but Speckles is slightly slimmer. The game girls have thicker legs than Speckles.

The three bigger girls

Ebony, Speckles and Flame

There isn’t much difference in the size of these three girls but you can see that Ebony and Flame have thicker legs.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that these girls are bantams though because seramas in comparison are so small. I like to see the mix in the flock and to see the bigger and smaller girls getting along. Size doesn’t seem to effect the harmony in the flock at all.

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Ebony and Flame are amazing egg layers

Ebony and Flame have really surprised me with what good egg layers they are. Since we got them in July I haven’t had to buy any eggs. In October Ebony laid 21 eggs and Flame laid 20. In October Dandelion has laid 6 eggs and Cinnamon has laid 5.

I thought that I would include a front facing photo of Ebony and Fame as they look quite funny like this and quite different from each other.

Ebony

Ebony’s face and comb is so different from what Emerald’s was like. Emerald had such a sweet face and the tiniest comb ever. Ebony has the same sort of chunky comb and wattles as the wyandotte she is crossed with and also the same solid shape. Ebony is a sturdy, chunky, girl.

Flame

Flame has retained the game bird shape but has the gold colour of the wyandotte. Both girls look quite fierce when face on although they aren’t in reality.

Because they are still laying so late in the year I am now wondering if they are younger girls than I had thought. I have started to wonder if this is their first year as chickens lay through their first winter and don’t moult. During their second and subsequent years they stop laying and moult.

If they continue to lay I will know that this is the case and will therefore be able to age them more accurately. This would be a good thing because if they are first year birds I could potentially have them for longer.

I just assumed they were older girls as Toffee and Emerald were. The farmer may not have been certain of their age if he had a mix of older and younger girls. He keeps the game girls as his broodies for his wyandottes so doesn’t sell them unless someone like me wants them.

Toffee and Emerald stopped laying at the end of June in the first year that I had them which meant that they were at least two years old and possibly more. When I expressed surprise to the farmer that  Ebony and Flame were still laying later on in the year he said that very often if they have been broody and raised chicks, which Ebony had, they will lay a bit longer into the year.

This also intimates that he wasn’t quite sure how old they are. It will be interesting to see if they continue to lay in November which will give me a better idea if they are first year girls. Either way they are very good egg layers so far and any eggs beyond this time of year are a bonus.

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A frosty morning

We have had a few mornings lately when there has been frost on our cabin roof but this morning was the first morning that we had a ground frost.

This was one of our sedums a few days ago

This was the same sedum this morning

I said on my last post that I don’t like the cold and dark afternoons. I don’t like frosty mornings either. Luckily as the day went on we had blue sky and sunshine but by five o’clock it was dark and the chickens were in the shed with the pop hole door closed.

I find it always takes  bit of getting used to when the clocks go back. I would prefer it if the clocks were left alone but there is nothing we can do about it but grin and bear it!

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Bedtime corn

The girls get so excited when I go up to give them their bedtime corn. As I go up towards the run they all run to the bottom to greet me. They then follow me up to the gate and mill around  my feet in excitement.

Cinnamon always gets the closest to me and with her breast puffed out and her neck stretched she turns round in circles. It is so funny to see. She is like a little wind up toy going round and round.

Once I have scattered the corn they all run to hoover up as much as they can as quickly as they can.

The flock having their bedtime corn

I love to see the whole flock together

The girls are very adept at picking out the corn from the pine shavings that I sweep into the run from the patio area. I thought I should mention that in case it looked like I give out a ton of corn. I carefully throw out the equivalent of a teaspoon per girl as too much isn’t good for them. It’s not good to make our girls too fat although I am sometimes a little more generous on really cold nights. Digesting the corn over night helps to produce some internal heat.

They are such a pretty flock and I love that they are so harmonious. After the corn they hang around the patio area getting ready to go in for the night.

At this time of year Speckles doesn’t attempt to stay out which is good and she usually manages to bag her favourite spot in the  back, left, corner.

The amigos go to their side perch and the rest of the girls all go to the back perch. The advantage of a bigger flock is that they keep each other warm at night. We have seven on the back and five on the side which is a good number for warmth.

I am only just getting used to them going in at five o’clock instead of six o’clock since the clocks went back. Of course it is no different to them but it feels so early to me. It is the time of year that the girls have long nights and short days. Roll on spring!

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Halloween windows

Every Halloween we seem to get spooky windows in our sitting room. We call them “the ghosts in the windows”. It’s obviously because the weather conditions at this time of year are always quite similar. It always seems appropriate for Halloween though.

The ghosts in the windows

It is spooky that they always appear like this just in time for Halloween.

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