Allotment chard for the girls

We have been gradually digging up the chard at the allotment and giving it to the chooks. There is too much for us to consume and the girls love it. It also saves me having to buy them some daily greens.

We have left the root so it keeps well and I give them a bunch each day. At the end of the day I go in and collect up all the bare stalks.

Allotment chard for the girls
The chard keeps the girls happy all day
There are just stalks left at the end of the day

It’s great that the allotment is still producing and the girls love the chard which keeps them busy throughout the day.

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No eggs and a broody girl

Flame had been laying every other day but laid her last egg five days ago. I was surprised that she continued laying so late into the year.

Smoke laid her last egg four days ago and has gone broody. Smoke had laid seventeen eggs in twenty five days which is pretty good going for her. Only a serial broody like Smoke would go broody this late in the year. It would not be a good time to be hatching eggs.

Broody Smoke in the nest box
Broody Smoke when I lifted her out of the nest box

I am back to buying eggs for the moment. I am quite happy to have none of the girls laying though. This is because the girls are all on grower pellets not layers pellets because Shadow and Sugar are too young for layers.

I had been a bit worried about Flame and Smoke still laying while on growers. As it happens Flame always produced too much calcium and her egg shells always had lots of calcium bubbles on them. While on growers these bubbles had got less and less until her last eggs were smooth like the rest of the girls eggs.

Smoke had only been laying for three weeks between her last broody spell and now so that hasn’t been too long and her shells have been good.

For this reason I am happy for Smoke to take a break and am leaving her to be broody. I just lift her three times a day to make sure she has a short break. At dusk I let her stay in the nest box until the chicken shed door has closed. I then lift Smoke and perch her in the chicken shed.

I am not expecting any more eggs this year. I expect that Smoke and possibly Shadow and Sugar will start laying in January and then the flock will be back on layers pellets. The girls deserve a break from egg laying.

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Two tatty moulting girls

Marmite and Ebony are both looking tatty. Marmite has a mass of pins on her head and Ebony has loose feathers and under feathers showing.

Marmite with a porcupine head
Two tone Ebony

These two girls both look odd in their own way. It will be good to see them both fully feathered again.

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Jigsaw Puzzles

After my post about the two jigsaw puzzles that I had to give up on my mum said that she had two really good ones and would send them to me. It has been so nice having enjoyable jigsaws to do.

The first one I did was of garden birds and was only 500 pieces. I started it one day and finished it the next. It was really colourful.

The next one was a vintage fair and was 1000 pieces. This was the best jigsaw we have had for a long time. It was so detailed and had lots of colour and was really fun to do. This took three days to do.

The jigsaw was finished so quickly because the weather has been dreadful and we have been mostly stuck inside. My mum wanted us to have something to help us through lock-down during bad weather.

Garden bird jigsaw
Vintage fair jigsaw

My mum has just finished another really good jigsaw and has put it in the post for me.

My friend Jackie has also finished a good one and is posting it to me. In return I am posting these two to Jackie. It is so good to be able to share good jigsaw puzzles and get the most value from them.

I am looking forward to receiving my next two jigsaws and knowing that they will be good fun to do.

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Ebony is moulting

I recently said that Marmite was the last girl to moult. Ebony had had a partial moult late summer after her one broody spell.

Suddenly instead of heaps of little black feathers in the run and chicken shed I am finding huge heaps of big black feathers. Ebony looked a bit tatty but not as bad I would expect considering the huge amount of feathers I have been picking up over the last few days.

Then yesterday I saw that she too had lost her tail. I had to gently move Speckles aside to get some photos.

Ebony looks very odd
Ebony has no tail

What I find interesting is that two different breeds and different sized girls but with the same colour feathers are both moulting at the same time and have both lost their tails at the same time. I expect it is just coincidence.

For a bigger sized girl Ebony looks even more odd with no tail. Tail feathers grow back quickly though so I am sure she will be back to normal soon. And here is one girl with no loss of confidence during moulting. Ebony isn’t afraid of anything and it was easy to get a close up of her.

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Shadow and Sugar

The chicks are growing up. They are around five months old now. They are transitioning from their chick cheeping to a more grown up sound.

Shadow and Sugar are growing up

They are beautiful girls and very friendly.

One of the things that is happening at the moment is that the little girls are not always getting in the chicken shed before the automatic door closes. The three bigger girls are always in in time. The little girls leave it until the last minute and sometimes get shut out.

I go in at dusk each evening to put in any that are shut out. If Shadow and Sugar are shut out they both fly to my back as soon as I go through the gate.

Sometimes Shadow is in and Sugar is out and then Sugar flies to my back. I think that Sugar is out most often because she is the more bold of the two and leaves it until later. Salmon and Spangle are often out too as they also leave it late and occasionally all of the little girls are shut out. It is fortunate that they have me to put them in.

Last night my lovely husband took a photo of Sugar on my back. It is blurred because the flash on my camera has stopped working and without the flash the photos come out blurred at low light but it gives the gist.

Sugar on my shoulder

It is endearing but it isn’t very easy to move her from here. I have to reach my fingers under her feet and then bring her down to the perch. Sometimes she flies back again and I think she would be happy to perch on me all night!

Sometimes Sugar flies on to my head which is actually easier for me to lift her down from. It’s a good job these girls are so small. I think she thinks I am her mum and her safe place. Sometimes if I am collecting the other girls and putting them on the perch Sugar will jump on my arms several times. I try to get her feet to the perch while she is trying to get back up my arms.

This has become our bedtime ritual at the moment. It’s hard not find it quite endearing though. They are funny little girls.

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Marmite has lost her tail

Marmite looks worse during her moult than any of the other girls. I wonder if it’s because she is last to moult so it’s happened much more quickly.

Yesterday Marmite had one remaining tail feather
Today Marmite has no tail

As I walked through the gate I saw Marmite’s tail feather on the patio. She looks such a funny little thing with no tail and pins on her head.

Get feathered soon Marmite!

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Marmite is moulting

One by one the little girls have been moulting. Now it is Marmite’s turn and she is dropping feathers everywhere and looking rather tatty.

Marmite is looking tatty
Marmite has pins on her head
And missing head feathers

Marmite only laid one egg this month with it’s usual soft shell and I am pleased that she has now stopped laying.

In other news Smoke has just started laying again after her moult. She has laid three eggs in the last four days. Only Flame and Smoke are laying and with three nest boxes available they both want the same one.

Smoke and Flame share a nest box

Oh well, nothing changes!

Marmite the next day

The next day Marmite looks even more tatty. She is the last girl to moult so they should all be looking good again soon.

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The jigsaw I gave up on

I have done a lot of jigsaw puzzles since the beginning of lock-down. Some I have really enjoyed and found quite addictive. Some have been really difficult and I struggled but didn’t give up. These were the ones with lots of sea or sky or both. I had to sort the puzzle pieces by shape rather than colour. They were lent to us so not of our choosing.

The best ones have lots of detail and colour and sometimes I can’t resist fitting a piece each time I pass by. A jigsaw usually takes me between one and two weeks to complete.

Having run out of jigsaws I bought two when our local charity shop opened up again and have been saving them for when the weather isn’t good enough to be outside.

I have now learned a lesson about choosing jigsaws. Don’t choose jigsaws that are of paintings. They need to be either photographs or drawings such as the humorous cartoon ones we did earlier in the year.

For the first time I have had to give up on a jigsaw and I don’t give up easily. This one was out on the table for two weeks and I just couldn’t get going anywhere with it.

This was as far as I could get
This was the picture

I thought it was pretty. I realise now that it is so hard to do because it is so fuzzy. I completed the outside on the first day and after two weeks The few bits inside were all I managed to fit together. I just could not get started anywhere and had to admit defeat and put it back in the box.

I have now started the jigsaw that I bought at the same time as this one. Unfortunately it is also of a painting. It isn’t as fuzzy as this one but it still has a lot of subtle changes in colour and has no hard lines.

I have been doing it for three days and after starting quite well I have now ground to a halt. I feel I probably could complete it but I am not sure that I want to.

Can I get further than this!
This is the picture

I will leave it on the table for a few more days but if I can’t get going with it I will give up again. Jigsaws should be fun and enjoyable not an endurance test.

I will never ever buy a jigsaw of a painting again. It has been a lesson learned.

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Three groups of chickens

Although all of the girls mix happily together they can often be found in three separate groups.

The original four seramas like to congregate on top of the wooden shelter. They can often be found there either having a group preening session or just hanging out.

The chicks can be found anywhere in the run perching together but quite often are inside the wooden shelter.

The three bigger girl’s favourite place to perch together is the branch perch above the ladder.

Yesterday the four seramas were again on top of the wooden shelter while the chicks were inside the shelter just below them.

I just missed the three bigger girls on the branch perch as after I had taken the first couple of photos they jumped down to see what I was doing. There is always the possibility of treats!

The four original seramas on top of the wooden shelter
The chicks inside the wooden shelter

Sometimes Shadow and Sugar use the perch in the shelter and sometimes they like to use the plank at the back. Either way they seem to really like the shelter. They are such a sweet pair.

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