No broodies, hurrah!

I haven’t posted for a few days as there hasn’t been much going on. This is a good thing! For the first time this summer we have no broodies and it is bliss. It is so good to go up to the chicken run and see all the girls out in the run doing normal chicken things.

Since Flame came out of her “mother and chick” thing, just like last time, this has started her moulting. I am picking up loads of her feathers from the run and the chicken shed in the mornings. Despite this she still looks pristine.


Speckles is also moulting but is doing so, a few feathers at a time, like the seramas moult. This means she too looks pristine.


Ebony is a bit fluffy underneath and still has white carotene on her head. She seems to have had a white head for months. Head feathers really do take the longest to unfurl.


Eggs are thin on the ground as those girls who are no longer broody are still recovering. Whereas we were having some, five egg, days we are now getting just one or two eggs a day. This is okay though as it’s still enough for breakfast eggs at weekends and one day during the week.

The new chicken shed is also bliss. It is so quick and easy to clean. It needs a lot less pine shavings and poop picking in the morning only takes a few minutes. I then wipe the inside, including the roof, with a wet wipe which only takes five minutes and means it is dust free and clean on the inside.

This is by far the easiest chicken shed we have had so far and mites have nowhere to hide so I am also able to keep it mite free. It is a learning curve but if I were to advise anyone thinking about starting to keep chickens I would definitely recommend a plastic chicken shed.

So all is normal in the chicken run for five minutes, touch wood,  until the next drama comes along.

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Hibiscus and miscellaneous

Our hibiscus is looking amazing at the moment but it has grown enormous.


It’s got huge

It towers over the chicken run

We lopped it last year but it has grown back bigger than ever.

The hollyhocks have finally started to flower

Our holly hocks seem to be flowering long behind the ones we have seen in other gardens and on the verges.

Hanging basket of cherry tomatoes

This was my birthday present from my youngest son and his wife along with some garden centre vouchers. The tomatoes have just started ripening.

Slow worm on the patio

And finally a small slow worm. Over the last few months we have spotted tiny, baby, slow worms, medium sized slow worms and huge, adult, sized slow worms. We have a healthy breeding population in our garden and see different sized ones every year during the summer.

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Last night was the first time, after three nights, that I left Flame with the flock at bedtime. I was very pleased to find that at dusk both Vanilla and Flame had perched. I think we have definitely come through this now.

Last night

There seems to be a bit of a parting of the ways on the little girls’ perch. I am not sure what that is all about.

Smoke started laying again yesterday after her broody spell. It was three weeks since Smoke last laid. Cinnamon has finished her weeks course of baytril and is back to her usual self. I am sure she will be happy not be grabbed twice a day.

I hardly dare say it but everything is back to normal in the chicken run … touch wood!

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I think we have cracked it

Flame has been in the dog crate for two days and two nights. Every time I put her back in the run she would have a dust bath and then return to the nest box so I would then put her back in the dog crate.

Yesterday afternoon I got Vanilla out for a break and she stayed out for a couple of hours instead of her usual ten minutes. I felt that she was weakening. Before bedtime I took Vanilla out again and closed the nest boxes.

At dusk when I checked on the girls Vanilla was perched up instead of in the corner of the chicken shed. I felt we were making progress. I opened the nest boxes ready for the morning.

This morning when I went out Vanilla was out in the run. I gave out the morning corn and cleaned the chicken shed. By this time Vanilla would usually be back in the nest box but she was still out. It was looking like Vanilla was done with being broody.

I decided to get Flame out of the dog crate and return her to the run. I had been doing this each morning while I put clean paper in the dog crate and fresh water and mash. After half an hour Flame was still out in the run. Instead of returning to a nest box she was perched with Speckles and Ebony.

It was looking like both Vanilla and Flame had come through this at the same time.

Flame this morning

I wondered what would happen when Flame and Vanilla saw each other. A few minutes later Vanilla joined some of the little girls on the ladder and all the girls were preening together. Flame and Vanilla didn’t take any notice of each other.

A communal preening session

In the afternoon Vanilla had a dust bath and Flame and Vanilla had still taken no notice of each other.

Vanilla having a dust bath

It seems that like last time two days has been long enough to break the mother and chick behaviour. Last time at this point I felt confident enough to leave them together at bedtime and then was disappointed to find Vanilla and Flame together on the chicken shed floor once more.

I separated Flame for one more night and the following night Flame and Vanilla perched at bedtime. Because of this I am going to put Flame in the dog crate for one more night. I am quite confident that by doing this they will both perch tomorrow night. I am really pleased with how quickly this has worked.

Cinnamon laid another egg today, in the corner of the chicken shed, which I have of course thrown away. That is two eggs in three days so I think she is feeling much better as she usually only lays once a week. Tomorrow will be her last day on baytril. I am so pleased with how well she is doing. Everything seems to be going to plan, touch wood!

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Trying to break Flame of being broody

At half past seven last night I left the nest boxes closed but opened the chicken shed pop hole and door ready for the night. Immediately Flame and Vanilla went in and settled on the floor.

It was still very hot and Vanilla was beak panting although I didn’t manage to catch her with her beak open. Vanilla would put up with being hot just to sit with Flame.

Flame and Vanilla in the chicken shed

I decided to put Vanilla in the dog crate in the shed until it was dark. I went out after dark and was pleased to see that Flame was on her perch which she wouldn’t have been had Vanilla been with her. I added Vanilla to the little girls’ perch.

This morning it was much cooler so I decided to try to break this habit. I have had a change of heart and decided that I will put Flame in the chicken crate rather than Vanilla as this worked last time after only two days and three nights.

I am now able to pick Flame up without her pecking me. It seems that Flame only pecks me when she is with Vanilla. It must be her misguided instinct to protect her “chick”. This makes it much easier to handle her.

I intended to give Flame two breaks for exercise and dust bathing, at half past twelve and half past four, but at half past ten I decided to see if she was ready for a break. I closed Vanilla in the nest box  that she was in so that Flame wouldn’t see her.

Flame headed straight into the nest box next to the one Vanilla was in. This meant she wasn’t ready for a break so I put her back in the dog crate. It is no hardship for her to be in the dog crate as she would only otherwise be sitting in a nest box. I had put a dish of water and a dish of mash in the dog crate and she had eaten some mash.

I got Vanilla out of the nest box a few times but she went straight back in. I ended up closing the nest boxes and blocking the shed’s pop hole for half an hour to force Vanilla to take a break.

At half past twelve I shut Vanilla in the nest box again and returned Flame to the run. This time she went straight out into the run for a dust bath.

Flame has a dust bath

Once Flame had had her dust bath she went into a nest box again. I returned her to the dog crate and opened the nest box that Vanilla was in. I shall repeat this until Flame comes out of this. I am hoping that it will only take a couple of days.

Cinnamon laid an egg in the corner of the chicken shed so she must be feeling a lot later. Unfortunately her egg had to be thrown away because of the baytril but the important thing is that she seems back to normal.

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Heat wave

I think the entire country is experiencing this heat wave at the moment. We are lucky that ours is only three days, the last day, being today and then more normal temperatures to follow. France has been experiencing a heat wave for months.

I have been giving the girls frozen peas and sweetcorn in dishes of water in the afternoons. Ebony suffers from the heat the most due to her black feathers. She will stand with her wings aloft and pant through her open beak. The frozen peas and sweetcorn seem to cool her instantly.

As today is the hottest day I have also wet some areas of the run by tipping a couple of watering cans of water over the soil. The girls love scratching in the damp soil. I also poured a can of water over half of their patio area to cool it down.

Today’s afternoon temperature showing on my van

37 degrees C is 100 degrees F so very hot for us.

Vanilla has now been broody for two weeks and no amount of shutting her out of the nest box has broken her out of it. I wasn’t too happy with her sitting in the nest box in this heat but then it got worse. As the heat wave started Flame also went broody and the same behaviour has started up as last time they were both broody together.

Flame wants to sit with Vanilla underneath her and Vanilla has once more taken on the role of her chick. Vanilla climbs all over Flame and pushes herself underneath her. This is not ideal behaviour in a heat wave.

Once the girls have laid I close the nest boxes and I have been closing them well before bedtime. This just meant that Flame was sat in the corner of the chicken shed with Vanilla underneath her. I had to wait until it was dark and lift them to the perch.

I have also been leaving the chicken shed door half open  at night while we are having such high overnight temperatures.

This afternoon I closed all the nest boxes and blocked the pop hole to the chicken shed as I didn’t think the girls would lay in this heat and no girl had shown any interest in the nest boxes. This meant that like before Flame and Vanilla settled on top of the nest boxes.

I blocked the top of the nest boxes with some empty storage buckets. The next time I checked they were sat together on the wet patio.

Flame and Vanilla

These two are so determined! I watered the patio area from the store cabinet down and beyond that around the nest boxes and the chicken shed is dry. You can see that they are sitting on the edge of the wet part of the patio so they must like the coolness of it.

At least I feel this is cooler and better for them than sitting in a warm nest box. I want to use the dog crate again to try to break them out of this behaviour but I have been waiting for the hottest days to pass first. My priority has been keeping the girls cool at the moment.

I plan to try it a different way round this time. I have no lunches tomorrow so will be at home for the next three days. I will put Vanilla in the dog crate in the open shed. It will be easier to pick vanilla up and put her back in the run for a break and dust bath several times a day. As she has already been broody for two weeks I am hoping she will soon come out of it.

I will try this first and I can always switch round if I think that would work better. In other news Speckles and Smoke are moulting. I am finding grey fluffy feathers and spotted feathers in the run.

I am pleased to say that Cinnamon looks completely back to normal. She is easy to pick up for her meds but she doesn’t like opening her beak. I am so relieved that she improved so quickly.

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An update on Cinnamon

Yesterday I was convinced that Cinnamon had a blockage that she was trying to clear. When I got back from the vet we gave her the first dose of baytril at half past four. She had a dish of mash and water in the cat box but made no attempt to have any.

At half past seven she suddenly started eating. I added sunflower hearts and chopped grape to her mash which she ate.

I now have to conclude that it wasn’t a blockage that she was trying to clear but that she was trying to clear the foam from her throat and beak. This makes me think that it must be mycoplasma. This is a different set of symptoms to any that I have seen before and the vet had’t come across this before and I also couldn’t find it in my research on the internet.

Never the less with my past experience I know that myco can present many different symptoms and I can’t come up with any other explanation for the foam that Cinnamon had. It is really odd that this has happened in summer as it is usually cold weather that brings it on and also Cinnamon was always the least effected in the past.

There has been no stress in the chicken run apart from the heat wave but seramas are good with heat as they originate from a hot country (Malaysia).

This morning we gave Cinnamon her second dose of baytril. I topped her mash with some more sunflower seeds and chopped grape. She tucked into those and drank from her water dish.

At ten o’clock I put Cinnamon back in the run. I put in some of our lettuce (from the allotment) that had gone to seed and she was soon tucking in to that with the other girls.

I couldn’t keep Cinnamon in the cat box and the other girls have already been exposed so it was best for her to go back in the run. We will give her the baytril twice a day to her beak for seven days. The egg withdrawal period is a further twenty eight days. Cinnamon only lays once a week and her eggs are distinct plus she is the only girl that lays in the corner of the new chicken shed.

Cinnamon hadn’t laid for ten days prior to this so that may have been indication that something was adrift. I am certain that if I hadn’t taken Cinnamon to the vet when I did we would have lost her.

Unfortunately this shows that myco is still in the flock but at least the vet was happy to give me baytril. Because the baytril is administered to one girl only and followed by egg withdrawal it doesn’t pass any antibiotic into the food chain. Having said that, the vet said she would have given me tylan, if it had been in stock.

This makes me wonder if the other vet has left or if there is poor communication within the vet’s surgery. Either way if I have myco in my flock in the future I will be fighting to get medication and will treat any individual girl as soon as I see any symptoms.

I am now hopeful that Cinnamon has a good chance of complete recovery.

Cinnamon today with Speckles sticking close by

And here they are again

Yesterday when we realised that Cinnamon had a problem Speckles was stood close by her. Speckles has hardly left Cinnamon’s side today.

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There is something very wrong with Cinnamon

This afternoon when I returned from my deliveries I saw that there was something very wrong with Cinnamon. Cinnamon had looked absolutely fine that morning joining in with the mid morning spinach.

I had given the girls some apple and melon at lunch time. I always peel the apples and remove the pips and peel the melon slices. My immediate thought was that she had got something stuck in her throat.

Cinnamon was holding her wings aloft and twisting and snaking her neck around. I picked her up and gave her a drop of olive oil to her beak from a syringe as I had been told in the past that this can sometimes help a blockage slide down.

Cinnamon continued to struggle and twice we saw her shake her beak and a stream of foam came out of her beak. I have never seen anything like this before. By now I was alarmed and called the vet and got an appointment for an hour later at half past three.

Cinnamon snaking her neck

The vet had also never seen anything like this before. The vet looked into her beak and said that it was full of the bubbly saliva but she couldn’t see anything stuck in there.

The vet asked if she could film Cinnamon on her phone which of course I agreed. By now we could also hear a grumbling, growling, sound that reminded me of human indigestion. The vet wondered if it was something neurological because of the snaking of her neck. I asked if she thought it could be mycoplasma although I hadn’t seen these symptoms before. The vet said she didn’t think it was but didn’t know what it could be.

At one point because Cinnamon looked so uncomfortable I tearfully asked if I should have her put to sleep. Why is it always my favourite girls! When I first saw Cinnamon like this my first thoughts were, no, please not Cinnamon!

The vet said that she would advise trying Cinnamon on the antibiotic, baytril, first. She said there was nothing to lose as it might work and if it didn’t I could bring her in if she got worse or nature might take it’s course but the baytril might fight whatever this is.

The vet said give her a seven day course to her beak twice a day and for now keep her indoors in the cat box away from the flock in case it’s contagious. She said try to get her to eat and drink. That is proving a non starter at the moment. I put water and mash in the cat box but cinnamon made no attempt to touch it. We gave her baytril to her beak as soon as I got back home.

Cinnamon is in the sick bay

I decided to give Cinnamon some water to her beak as I was worried that she would dehydrate but it instantly started her twisting her neck again. It seems as if she is unable to swallow.

Cinnamon is lifting her wings and twisting her neck around

I have also researched on the internet and can’t find anything that matches this. The vet said that she will ask around and let me know if she finds out anything. She said to also keep her informed of any progress. The vet also suggested the exotic animal vet that we took Jasmine to but they had no appointments over the next few days.

It seems that there is nothing more we can do but give the baytril and keep everything crossed. Cinnamon is the last of the girls from my previous breeder and having had her for two and a half  years she is the oldest serama we have kept so far.

I would hate to lose her but am trying to steel myself for the worst. I am so upset to see her like this and at the moment am just keep everything crossed.

It is now half past seven and Cinnamon just started to eat some mash. Encouraged by this I dropped some some sunflower seeds on top and she ate those too. I chopped a couple of grapes and added them and she has eaten them too, Hurrah!

This seems to suggest that it isn’t a blockage and that that the antibiotic has now kicked in. I am now feeling more hopeful.

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The lilies in our garden look better and better every year.

The lilies are looking amazing

I love all the different colours

This is proving a good year for the lilies.

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Another get together at the allotment

The last time we all got together at the allotment our friends from across the road provided a barbeque and drinks. There has been loads of produce for us all recently and my husband thought another get together would be good fun.

This time we provided a picnic of sandwiches, buffet bits and drinks for Sunday lunch time. There was D and S and their two boys,  K couldn’t make it as she was away on a weekend course, but there was T and their two girls.

We had a lovely afternoon. We had our picnic and beer, wine and soft drinks for the children and then we all picked some produce and then watered the plot. We all agreed that for the first year it was amazing and there is a plentiful supply of produce for all three families. At the moment we are planning our meals around the produce.

Some produce during the week

As the lettuce are now going to seed we have been giving them to the chooks. They love it and strip it to just the centre stem.

Wild flowers around the raised beds

More wildflowers


The first sunflower head behind the broad beans

The runner beans have started producing

A Lancaster Bomber flies over

D and T’s produce to take home

Our produce at home

After complaints it has now been ruled that we must change the orange netting for black netting but we are happy to do that. We are not allowed to have it over the top it has to be low level as it is now.

For our first year it has all been a learning curve and although we are really chuffed with how our first year is progressing we intend to fine tune next year for even better results.

The great thing is that it brings us together with friends and gives us a shared interest that is healthy too. I have been just buying meat or fish for our evening meals and using all allotment produce for the rest. That gives us a great deal of satisfaction.

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