Making improvements in the garden

I know I have said this quite often recently but the pulmonaria has taken over our garden so we are buying new plants then digging a clump out and replacing  it with the new plants.

This is the girls’ view of the garden. Notice the sea of pulmonaria in the background.

Cinnamon in front of a mass of pulmonaria

There have also been a few casualties of the harsh winter that we have had. When we first set up the chicken run we slightly extended the chicken’s patio area with some spare paving slabs that had been left in the garden. To do this we had to dig out a huge mature heather.

We transplanted the heather behind our cabin (work kitchen) between the windows where we needed something low that wouldn’t block the windows. It has never flowered much since it’s been there as it doesn’t get enough sun but it provided a patch of green.

This winter it turned an autumnal red/brown colour and stayed that way when spring came. As heather should be in flower at this time of the year we assumed that it had died and at the very least it wasn’t looking attractive.

This heather looks dead

While shopping for plants for the rest of the garden we chose a low growing evergreen to take it’s place. It’s actually a lovely blue colour.

New planting

We also added a smaller heather beside it which had out grown one of our pots. Hopefully these will spread to fill this space and will be happier here than the original heather was. I think this is an improvement.

We intend to keep adding something new to the garden each month until we get it back to the cottage garden we originally intended it to be.

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Our different sized eggs

I thought about Sophie’s comment that she doesn’t know which girls lay which eggs like I do and I thought I would demonstrate how different our girls eggs are.

I know that if I get more seramas, and I would ideally like another five, that it will no longer be easy to tell the different eggs. But at the moment with just three seramas and just two bantams it is really easy.

Our different sized eggs

Dandelion’s is the tiny egg on the left, next is Freckles, bigger, round, egg then Emerald’s egg and then Speckles, larger, egg on the right. We are missing Cinnamon as she is on a break but her eggs are the same length as Freckles but are oval in shape with a much more pointed end.

I love seeing the different shapes and sizes of our girls eggs and of course they are all delicious.

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The girls are looking great

After the problems over the winter it is great to see all the girls looking really good and they are all laying now except Cinnamon who had a broody day recently so will take a break.

Freckles only took a break of ten days after her broody spell and today laid her second egg  since starting again. Speckles also laid today and she doesn’t lay too often so that was good to see.

Emerald and Dandelion laid yesterday and are laying every other day. I thought the girls looked so good that I decided to photograph them.

Emerald

Speckles

Freckles

Cinnamon

Dandelion

What a great bunch of girls with lovely red faces and combs. Emeralds tiny comb is a lovely colour and Speckles large comb always has dirt on the edge from her pecking at the ground.

Dandelion is a changed girl from the winter. All her eggs have been good after the first one. I am really pleased with the flock at the moment and long may it continue.

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It feels like summer

After the harshest winter for many years we have now had record high temperatures for April. It has felt like summer this week. The garden is bursting with flower.

Tulips in bud

These tulips have been like this for ages just waiting to open. Again just look at the sea of pulmonaria that surrounds them.

The last clump of tulips have opened today

These tulips have been here since we moved in and are the last to open every year.

My favourite clematis is just getting started

It’s my favourite because I like the colour of this one the most.

The clematis opposite our kitchen window

This clematis is on the new fence that our neighbours put up last year and has more flower on it than it has ever had before.

Pot of daisies in bud a week ago

Pot of daisies today

I have been waiting for these daisies to open. All the recent buds in the garden have opened and the cherry tree blossom from last week has all gone already. The garden is changing day by day.

The chooks are loving the better weather too. Dandelion continues to lay every other day with good shells.

Cinnamon is over her broody spell after just one day so that’s good news. She stayed out of the nest box all day today.

Since the better weather Emerald and Speckles have wanted to stay out and perch on the perches at the bottom of the run at bedtime so I am now blocking those too. I hang some tarpaulin over them an hour before bedtime and as long as I do that they go into the chicken shed. I am not sure that I am going to break this habit though. I will continue to do this for a while but I am not sure what to do long term.

I am happy that the girls all look happy and healthy and that is the main thing. They are definitely enjoying the better weather as much as I am.

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As one girl starts laying another girl stops

Dandelion has now laid three eggs and has laid them every other day which is pretty good going. The first one was the soft shelled egg but the next two have had good shells so I am optimistic that she will now continue to lay good eggs. She is looking better than she ever has and I think the warmer weather is really suiting her.

Dandelion in the nest box yesterday

However Cinnamon has gone broody for the first time. This means my two best laying, little girls, are taking a break from egg laying so as one girl starts another girl stops.

Cinnamon is broody

Cinnamon was in the nest box last night before bedtime so I took her out and she then went in the chicken shed. I found her egg near her roost spot this morning when I went in so she must have laid first thing.

When I saw her back in the nest box later this morning I suspected she had gone broody. I knew for sure when she raised her tail up. I lifted her out and she tried to peck me. She isn’t docile when lifted like Freckles.

When I lifted Freckles out she would stay out for a while but Cinnamon would run straight back to the nest box. I could see that Emerald wanted to lay her egg so I let her get settled in the nest box and closed the other one.

Emerald is settled in the nest box

When I next checked the nest box this is what I found.

Cinnamon and Emerald in the nest box together

I should have known that the nest box being occupied wasn’t going to put Cinnamon off. She is a determined little girl. I left them to it.

When I next checked Emerald was back out in the run and Cinnamon was still in the nest box. I lifted her to find Emerald’s egg beneath her. I put her out in the run and closed the nest boxes. I would like to break her out of it as quickly as possible.

Emerald is laying well, almost every other day. Last year she laid twice as many eggs as Speckles so she is the better layer of the two despite being older and having a shorter laying season.

It seems that there is always some drama going on. It is good to have a couple of girls laying but with the flock so small now the eggs are still not enough to entirely keep us going without buying some to supplement them.

It would be really good to increase the flock and insure that there would still be eggs when some of the girls take a broody break. I hope the warmer weather is helping my breeder to hatch some eggs.

I am resisting calling him again, too soon, but I will give him a call in a couple of weeks time to see how it is going. I would so love to add some more girls to the flock.

I still look at the girls and momentarily wonder where the rest of them are and then realise that they are all there. The flock seems so small. I look forward to having a larger flock as summer progresses.

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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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