Spangle’s first egg of the year

Today Spangle settled in the nest box again. A few times she had a false alarm and would come out of the nest box shouting and I would check and there would be no egg. The next time she came out shouting she had finally got her first egg of the year laid. Well done Spangle!

Spangle’s egg had slight streaks of blood on it but this does sometimes happen on the first egg, especially when it has taken a long time to be laid, so I am not worried.

Spangle’s first egg of the year on the left of the photo

Flame’s egg is on the right, Salmon’s egg is second from the right, Marmite’s egg is third from the right and Spangle’s egg is on the left with a little streak of blood on the shell.

At the same time as Spangle laid her first egg of the year Smoke gave up being broody. I felt that Smoke was getting ready to come out of broodiness as she had been coming out of the nest box more often and staying out for longer over the last couple of days.

It has been exactly two weeks since Smoke went broody. Today Smoke stayed out of the nest box all day. I wondered what she would do at bedtime as I had been lifting her every evening from the nest box to the perch in the chicken shed.

I went up to check after dusk and was very pleased to find Smoke on the perch in the chicken shed. Hurrah! That means Smoke is definitely finished with being broody.

After a bit of break Smoke will start laying again which will be great as she is our best layer. Well done girls!

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Salmon’s second egg of the year and Spangle is practising

Yesterday Salmon laid her second egg of the year and it was in the nest box and had a good shell which is really good news. It was two weeks ago that she laid a soft shelled egg.

Spangle has been quite vocal and has been looking in the nest boxes. Yesterday Spangle settled in the nest box and I thought that she was going to lay her her first egg of the year. Spangle was in the nest box for just over an hour and then she came out but there was no egg.

I think Spangle is practising and will lay soon. One thing I am pleased about is that she was sitting in the nest box. Last year she wanted lay high up and laid an egg on the top of the store cabinet. I then blocked this off and she would sometimes sit on top of the nest box and her egg would roll down behind the nest box and break.

It is good news that Spangle has been sitting in the nest box as hopefully this means this year she will lay her eggs in the right place. Marmite on the other hand always laid in the nest box before but this year she seems to want to sit on top of the nest box. I hope the girls will get the hang of it once they get into their stride.

Spangle in the nest box
Spangle looks like she is getting ready to lay her first egg of the year

It is good to see the girls getting ready lay even it does take a bit of practise first.

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Egg laying

Speckles has had a spin round in the nest box a few times lately and I have also seen her taking the grit. She is still doing sloppy poops but her comb is lovely and red.

Yesterday I missed Speckles in the nest box but she was on the patio with pine shavings on her back. I just happened to have gone in with my camera so took a photo. However because of her white speckles the shavings don’t show up much but trust me they are there.

Speckles has pine shavings on her back

Despite the sloppy poops Speckles isn’t drinking the large amount of water that she was last year. Last year she laid one egg in March and five in June so it will be interesting to see what happens this year. I don’t expect her to lay many but she is definitely looking like she is ready to lay soon.

I really see her age in her eyes though and she always takes her time jumping down from the patio to the run. I try to keep moving earth back, with a spade, to this area to lessen the drop but it soon gets scratched away again. The girls can use the block as a stepping stone but they don’t always take advantage of this.

Flame on the other hand has been laying every other day since she started back at the beginning of the month but yesterday she laid for the second day in a row for the first time this year.

Flame likes to lay in the nest box that broody Smoke is in and I need to remove her egg as soon as possible before Smoke sits on it.

Smoke and Flame share a nest box

Ebony hasn’t laid since the first of February which I find rather strange and yet she has a lovely red comb so I don’t know why this should be.

Marmite hasn’t laid since her first egg although she did sit in the nest box for a while yesterday before giving up so I am sure she will resume soon.

Salmon and Spangle are showing no sign of wanting to lay but again both have lovely red combs so I am not worried. All the girls look healthy and happy so I am not worried about the lack of egg laying.

I don’t imagine there will be any surplus eggs to give away this summer though. We will be doing well if we get enough eggs for ourselves without buying any.

But as long as the girls are happy and healthy that is all that matters to me.

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A peek of spring after the recent storms

The crocus got to shine very briefly before they got battered by the recent storms. However the miniature daffodils are just opening and giving a glimpse of spring.

Miniature daffodils

Roll on spring.

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A visitor

A few days ago we had a visitor. I stepped out of our cabin ( work kitchen ) and there in front of me was a beautiful racing / homing pigeon. I don’t know if it was male or female but I am going to refer to it as he because I don’t like calling the pigeon “it”.

I called my husband to come and see him and grabbed my camera. He was obviously used to people and being handled because he didn’t mind being very close to us. As soon as I pointed the camera at him he came straight up to it. I am guessing he used to being photographed.

He was pecking at the patio and I felt that he was hungry so I got some corn and sprinkled it on the patio. He hoovered it up in no time at all so I did the same again. The same thing happened so I put down a dish of corn and a dish of water for him.

He so reminded me of the chickens the way he pecked the corn from the dish, stood with one foot on the side of the dish sometimes and flicked the corn out of the dish.

I resumed my work with the door open so that I could keep an eye on him. I was worried about the possibility of a cat seeing him. He had his fill of corn and then moved to the top of our gate and snoozed for a while.

By now it was heading for dusk and I was worried about him staying put and being a target for predators. I decided to line the cat box with paper and see if I could put him in the cat box with food and water and put it in the shed overnight. I would then go online and see how to find out how to get him back to his owner.

I slowly moved my hands towards him and managed to touch him but just as I was about to get hold of him he flew straight upwards and landed on the telephone wire. I felt happier that he was high up and safer but worried about him being cold overnight if he was used to being housed in a pigeon loft.

At this point I felt there wasn’t much more I could do. I tried calling him down but he wasn’t falling for that. Dusk was approaching and I was worried for him but he started looking around and moved further out to the next telephone wire.

The next time I checked he was gone and nowhere to be seen. I hoped that a refuel and a rest was enough to set him on his way home.

Pecking at the patio made me think he was hungry
He came straight over to the camera
He soon cleared up the corn
He has three rings on his left leg and one ring on his right leg
He loves to get close to the camera
He is so beautiful
I gave him a dish of corn and a dish of water
He moved to the gate and later to the telephone wires in the background

I just hope that he got home safely. In hind sight it was probably as well I didn’t catch him because it may have stopped him from getting home on his own however I was just following my instincts.

I looked on the internet later and it seems that I did the right things. It said if a pigeon is lost or injured to put them in a cat box or something similar with corn or mixed grains and water and bring them inside.

It gave the link to a charity organisation that help to get pigeons back to their owners. In the question and answer section it also said that pigeons can fly back home in the dark.

This was reassuring as hopefully it meant that our visitor would have found his way home.

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A rare moment of sunshine before the next storm

We have had relentless rain this winter. We have just had one storm recently and another is forecast at the weekend. The crocus have been up for ages but just haven’t opened until today when we had a rare spell of sunshine.

The crocus opened in a rare moment of sunshine
Our giant snowdrops

These extra large snowdrops always flower later than the smaller snowdrops. It was so lovely to see the crocus open at last.

We have the next storm coming at the weekend but one sunny afternoon was just lovely for the garden and for the chickens perching on the branch perch above the ladder which catches the sun.

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Marmite’s first egg of the year

Yesterday Marmite was very vocal and I felt sure she was getting ready to lay her first egg of the year. By the afternoon she looked as if she wanted to lay but seemed to have forgotten where she was supposed to go. Marmite is our dimmest girl, nice but dim, is how I think of her!

Marmite kept going on top of the nest boxes. I put her in the nest box a couple of times but she would come back out and go to the top again. Eventually she sat down on top of the nest box. At this point I decided to put her in the nest box and close her in for a while.

I checked on Marmite a couple of times and she was settled in the nest box. The next time I went up I opened the nest box and Marmite casually sauntered out. There was her egg in the nest box so she had finally got the job done.

I am hoping that Marmite will now remember next time where to go but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Marmite’s first egg of the year

Smoke’s round egg is on the right and Marmite’s egg is on the left. It is small, pale and pointed. Well done Marmite! It is good to have another girl laying.

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First broody of the year

I have had a feeling over the last few days that Smoke was about to go broody. She has laid nineteen eggs in twenty eight days. Smoke often lays three days in a row then misses a day then another three days in a row.

This morning she was in the nest box after already laying three days in a row. Later she was joined by Flame. Flame has been laying every other day and has laid four eggs so far. Flame’s and Smoke’s eggs are usually side by side as they both like the same nest box.

When I checked a little later Flame was just coming out of the nest box. I lifted the lid and no egg was in sight. I then lifted Smoke and there was Flame’s egg. Smoke had snaffled it underneath herself.

A little later I lifted Smoke out for a break. She sat for a minute in the usual broody pose.

Broody Smoke

Smoke has done well to lay nineteen eggs before going broody. As the season goes on she will lay less eggs between broody spells if last year is anything to go by.

Meanwhile Ebony laid eight eggs and now hasn’t laid for a week. She is looking a bit tatty so I think that she is moulting in stages.

Marmite has recently been quite vocal so I think that she will be the next girl to start laying. Without Smoke we now have only Flame laying for the moment. We had just started to get more eggs and now they have fallen back again. Oh well, lets hope Marmite starts laying soon.

By the end of the day Smoke had laid another egg making it twenty eggs in twenty eight days and four days in a row. Smoke often lays one last egg at the start of being broody.

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A soft shelled egg

Yesterday morning first thing I checked the nest boxes as I do every day in case of an early egg. One of the nest boxes had a wet patch in it. My first thought was Speckles.

However when I put on a disposable glove and started to clear it I could see egg yolk and realised that it was a soft shelled egg. In fact it appeared to be a shell less egg as there was no egg shell at all.

My guess would be that it was from Salmon. Her comb has got very red over the last few days and she has been looking in the nest box. Last year at the beginning of egg laying Salmon had laid a couple of eggs with either no visible shell or soft shell. She is the only one of the current seramas to do this so it is most likely that it was her egg.

The good news is that she looks great. Sometimes the girls look really poorly before laying a soft shelled egg but Salmon looks really good as do all the girls. I am hopeful that this is just a glitch and once she starts laying properly they will have good shells.

Salmon has a lovely red comb

Salmon looks really good so I am sure it is nothing to worry about. Her face and comb are a lovely red colour.

Flame laid her second egg today, two days after her first, so that’s another regular layer started. No more shop eggs needed for now which is great.

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Flame lays her first egg of the year

It was just over a week ago that Flame looked as if she was getting ready to lay but she hadn’t shown any interest in the nest box after that until today.

Today Flame was manic and I knew this meant she was going to lay this time. When Smoke and Ebony started laying they just chose a nest box and got on with the job. Ebony did a bit of scratching around in the nest box but that was it.

First of all Flame flicked loads of pine shavings out of the nest boxes. Next Smoke wanted to lay and whichever nest box she went to Flame wanted that one too. This caused Smoke to keep coming out and shouting. For a serama Smoke has the loudest of voices.

Eventually we closed Smoke in a nest box so that she could lay in peace and I kept checking on her so that I could let her out as soon as she laid. Flame kept jumping on the nest box Smoke was in and pecking at the closed door and making a mournful sound.

Next time I opened the nest box to see if Smoke had laid Flame jumped in with her. I checked under Smoke and found her egg and Smoke left the nest box followed by Flame.

When I next checked on Flame she was running from one nest box to the next making her mournful sound. She kept looking at me as if she wanted my help and at one point looked she was going to jump on me which she has never done before. I decided to try stroking her and was amazed that she let me. Flame has never let me stroke her before. She is usually quite indifferent to me and would just move away if I reached out towards her.

The next time I checked Flame had at last settled in a nest box. As usual she had put some pine shavings on her back. I returned a short while later to find Flame back out in the run. I checked the nest box and there was her first egg of the year.

Look at the mess Flame has made, I sweep the patio area at the end of each day
Flame allowed me to stroke her
Flame inspects one of the nest boxes
Flame inspects another nest box
Which she finally selects
Flame settles at last with her usual heap of pine shavings on her back
Flame’s first egg of the year

Smoke’s egg is on the right, Ebony’s egg is in the middle and flame’s egg is on the left. It is her usual large size and pale colour. This is why it is so easy for me to tell who has laid which egg, not that I could have missed it today, with the fuss that Flame made.

It is great to have another girl laying and I just hope that Flame lays her next egg without quite so much fuss.

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