The current egg production

Egg production has gone down a bit as first Rusty started moulting and now Cinnamon appears to be moulting. This has left Freckles, Apricot and Dandelion still laying at the moment. Here are the last four day’s eggs.

Recent eggs

From left to right we have Dandelion, Apricot, Dandelion, Apricot, Freckles, Apricot and Freckles.

Apricot and Freckles eggs

Apricot’s egg is on the left and Freckles egg is on the right. I love how different these little girls eggs are.

We used to call the bantam eggs big and the serama eggs small. We have now moved on to call Freckles eggs big and Apricot and Dandelion’s eggs small. With a smaller supply we now have two big (Freckles eggs) each or three small (Apricot and Dandelion’s eggs) each.

They are still the most lovely eggs though!

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Our tomato plants

We planted three tomato plants in our veg plot. Two are types that we have tried before and one is a new one. We thought we would take a chance on this intriguing tomato plant. It’s called tomato gigantine and boasts the biggest tomatoes in the world, growing up to eight inches in width!

As we always struggle to get our tomatoes ripened before the days of sunlight get shorter or the dreaded tomato blight sets in, we knew this was a bit of a risk, but hoped that perhaps it would be fast growing.

Our tomato plants actually look healthier than they ever have before. But here’s the thing.

Sparta

Shirley

Tomato gigantine

The giant tomato is way behind the other two plants! The other two plants have clusters of good sized tomatoes that just need to ripen and even now could be ripened indoors if necessary. The giant one is still at the flowering stage and has yet to even form a tomato.

All three plants are a similar size and height but this one is developing so much slower than the other two. I don’t hold out much hope of getting any giant tomatoes.

The three tomato plants

The giant one is the one furthest away with the yellow flowers at the top.

I will report back at the end of the season but I am not holding my breath!

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An update on the moult

Emerald and Speckles have been moulting for a couple of months and are now looking almost back to normal.

Seramas are supposed to moult a few feathers at a time all year round but Rusty is now moulting more heavily. I am finding lots of fluffy little feathers under her roost spot and around the run. She is looking a little shabby but not too noticeable.

Egg production is also down. Rusty hasn’t laid for two weeks now, since her three day broody spell. She would usually start laying again after two weeks but I think as she is moulting more than usual she probably won’t lay until it slows again.

Freckles is laying the best as she is still laying every other day, with Cinnamon, Dandelion and Apricot laying only two or three eggs a week. We are still getting enough eggs for our weekend breakfasts though so I am happy not to need to buy any eggs.

Speckles has her fluffy bottom back

Emerald is still showing white feathers under her wing when in a certain position

Emerald is looking good when she stands tall

Emerald has developed slightly grey tips to her feathers.

Rusty is moulting

Rusty has some bare quills on her wings but no bare patches, she also has some loose fluff on her bottom.

Dandelion is looking good

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is also losing some fluffy feathers and leaves them behind in the nest box when she lays her egg but she has a lovely red comb.

Apricot is looking good

Freckles is in her evening dust bath

Since the hot weather Freckles has taken to having a dust bath at about half past six every evening. She is the only one of the girls to do this at this time of day.

All in all I think the girls are looking pretty good. It is lovely to see them getting fully feathered again.

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After the storm

We had a huge storm last night. Thunder and lightening and torrential rain. I tried to take some photos but they didn’t come out. We lost all signal on the television. It raged on into the night keeping us awake.

On the positive side the garden has had a good watering. Some of the plants have taken a battering though.

The hibiscus, by the chicken run, is one the few plants that was already here when we moved in eleven years ago. It has probably doubled in size since then. We had intended to let it flower, then prune it back.

We knew the impending storm would drag it down so my husband wedged a broom between the plant and the top of the chicken run, as a temporary measure to hold it back, so that I wouldn’t have to crawl under it in the morning.

Hibiscus flower close up

 Hibiscus beside the chicken run

It’s held back with a broom

It’s almost down to the ground

It’s a shame as it is just reaching it’s peak. We will manage with it for a few days before pruning it, perhaps a bit now and a harder prune later. The flowers are quite beautiful.

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Speckles, the mother hen

Since Emerald and Speckles have become the only, bigger girls, amongst five little girls, Speckles has taken on the role of mother hen. She is often sat in the run surrounded by all the little girls with Emerald sat a little in front of them.

It’s very difficult to get a photo of this because as soon as I open the gate to the run the little girls run to me. I am an even bigger mother hen and there is always the possibility that I may be bearing treats!

I decided to take a shot through the wire and even then Freckles and Emerald immediately stood up.

Speckles the mother hen surrounded by her little girls

Most of the little girls run to me

As  expected, once I was through the gate, the little girls ran to me. Apricot and Freckles first followed by Rusty.

The other bit of mother hen behaviour is that Speckles calls the little girls to the treats or any titbits. At the end of the day if there is some cabbage left, as it’s too tough for the girls, I will break off little bits and drop them on to the patio.

Speckles will make the sound to tell them there is a treat and then will pick up the bits of cabbage and drop them in front of the little girls. She doesn’t eat them herself but will repeatedly pick up the bits and drop them in front of the little girls.

My husband says that he thinks the white pins on her head have entered her brain. It will be interesting to see if this behaviour is permanent or if it just because she is moulting which does seem to effect their behaviour.

Emerald is also continuing to make a sound like a cockerel crowing in the mornings when the automatic door opens. With our bedroom window open I hear her some mornings at about quarter past five.

It seems that these two bigger girls are still acting like parent birds to the five little girls as they have done since they have became the last two. It will be interesting to see if this continues. I wonder if it will change next spring when they start laying again or if it would change if we added new girls to the flock.

For now though it is pretty cute to see, Speckles the mother hen, surrounded by her little girls and Emerald near by on guard.

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Some mash, size comparisons and friendships

I wanted to get Freckles and Cinnamon in the same shot to show how different in size they are. They are the least of friends among the flock though, so I decided a couple of dishes of mash would help get them together.

Some mash for the girls

Freckles is on the left of the dish of mash and Cinnamon is in front of Speckles.

A size comparison between Cinnamon and Freckles

This about as close as Cinnamon gets to Freckles

I would say that Cinnamon is about half the size of Freckles and she is smaller than the other seramas too.

It’s the pecking order that stops Cinnamon and Freckles being friends. Rusty is top serama (or top banana as I like to think of her) and because of this she was a nightmare when we first introduced the three amigos. She was really aggressive towards them until she had proved beyond doubt that she was top little girl. Once she had done that she was fine with them and will happily share the treats, share a dust bath and will perch with them. She knows that they are no threat to her position as top little girl.

Freckles however was Rusty’s number two. She wasn’t nearly as aggressive with the three amigos but because she hasn’t proved her supremacy she now chases Cinnamon, won’t allow her near the treats with her and doesn’t dust bath or perch with her. Cinnamon is middle girl of the three amigos with Dandelion as top of this trio and sweet little Apricot firmly at the bottom.

Cinnamon is the least tolerated by Freckles but she has a big personality and doesn’t let it bother her. All the other girls are fine with her. I guess like us there will always be some characters that just don’t get on well together.

In the same way there are odd friendships. Speckles and Emerald are firm friends but out of the little girls Speckles will perch with or sits on the ground with Freckles the most. They often hang out together. It is funny how relationships within the flock pan out.

As long as there is no bullying I am happy with the way the flock interact together. It is interesting to watch the little friendships taking place.

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Serama feet

I recently did a post about how big Cinnamon’s feet are for her small size compared to the bigger girl’s feet. I put out this photo.

Cinnamon’s feet compared to the bigger girls

I said that I would do a follow up post comparing Cinnamon’s feet to the rest of the seramas. It wasn’t so easy to get clear shots of feet so it’s taken a while to get round to this post.

I think compared to the two bigger girls seramas do have quite big feet for their small size. My two bantam vorwerks, Amber and Honey, were twice the seramas size and had the tiniest and daintiest of feet. Cinnamon’s feet are thicker than the rest of the seramas though and I put this down to her love of digging. She is also the tiniest girl so it makes them appear bigger.

Cinnamon is half the size of Freckles, our other straight feathered, girl. I would like to do a side by side comparison but amongst the flock these two are the least of friends so getting them in the same shot is tricky. That will be another, future, post.

Get ready for lots of photos and concentrate on the feet.

Apricot

Apricot’s feet

Apricot

Dandelion

Dandelion’s feet

Rusty’s feet

Freckles feet

Cinnamon with Speckles and Dandelion

Cinnamon’s feet

Cinnamon likes to dig

She digs with fury

I think Cinnamon’s toes are thicker and less dainty than the other seramas because she is always digging. I love her tiny size, her big, digger feet and her big personality. She is a little girl with big attitude.

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The garden is amazing

I love the way our garden has evolved over the eleven years we have been here. It started out as mainly lawn and we gradually removed the lawn and planted every square inch. We wanted it to be as low maintenance as possible.

Over time we added the cabin for our business, the chicken run, which we went on to extend, a shed and a vegetable plot, plus patio areas to sit in the sun and planting to maintain privacy. It has all evolved into a very pleasing outlook.

I rescued this from our hanging basket and now it looks lovely over the path

The anemones look lovely in front of the chicken run

Lilies do really well in our garden

This one is beautiful

More anemones by the arches and roses in the bacground

The veg plot and our patio beyond it

We have found that some plants don’t like our garden and we have let them go and other plants love our garden and thrive. It has evolved to be full of the plants that can survive with little help from us. We just tweak it here and there to keep it looking as good as we can get it.

We get a lot of pleasure from our garden. The chickens and a few veggies add to the pleasure.

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Speckles head feathers

Since we first got Speckles she has always had some little feathers on her head that stuck out. When she first moulted, while with us, we wondered if she would lose them but they are a feature of hers and every time she moults, those head feathers, are standing up again when they come back in.

Originally those little feathers were black. This year she has a completely white head and those little feathers that stand up are now white.

We have had Speckles exactly two years as we got her in July but the photo below was taken a month later after she had finished her moult so she is looking pristine.

Speckles when we first had her

Speckles white head feathers

She hasn’t finished moulting at the moment so doesn’t look as pristine as in the first photo but it is interesting how much white she now has on her head and that the little feathers that stand up are now white.

I will take another comparison photo when she has finished her moult.

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Fine tuning the last arch

We weren’t completely happy with the last arch (in a set of four arches we recently put up to hold our climbing plants) but at the time we decided to live with it for a while and come back to it at a later date.

My husband wasn’t happy with it because it wasn’t completely square and there was some movement in the structure giving a lack of strength.

I wasn’t happy with the look of the ugly, thick, dark, rose branch sitting at the top of the arch.

We decided to take a hack saw to the thick branch and cut it out. We followed the branch along the fence removing all the parts attached to the big branch we were removing. It sounds simple but it was a thorny job leaving us both with scratches once more.

Taking this branch out, not only makes it look better, but has also taken some weight from the arch.

My husband then removed the angled struts at the top of the arch and replaced them. While doing this he managed to square up the upright and add screws to strengthen the structure and eliminate movement.

I then untied one of the thinner branches and retied it across the top of the arch, covering any bare parts.

We are really pleased with the final look. The arch now matches the other ones and looks so much better without the big, ugly, branch over the top. I have taken some before and after photos to demonstrate this.

The last arch before fine tuning

You can see the branch hanging down spoiling the look.

The branch is uglier on this side

The branch across the front of the arch is the one we removed.

It’s new look with no branch hanging down

It looks so much better

Now we have got rid of the branch hanging in front of the arch it looks neat and green like the other three. It has made a huge difference to the look and has taken some of the weight out too. We will now prune the rose every year to keep it to the arch.

We are really pleased with the final look and it was worth making this alteration but we are also really pleased that it is now finished. We don’t want to do this again in a hurry!

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