Some more spring touches in the garden

The first set of tulips are going over and the next bunch are just getting ready to open.

Another clump of tulips in a sea of pulminaria

Another clump of tulips in a sea of pulmonaria

Bluebells

Bluebells

There are bluebells all around the garden, plus some whitebells and pinkbells. There are more of these every year but that’s okay. I love the garden in the spring.

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The three amigos

I have been trying to get some good close up photos of the three amigos to update my “meet the flock” page. I haven’t done this before now as I have been waiting for Dandelion’s head feathers to grow in.

Her long tail feathers fell out and regrew very quickly but the pin feathers on her head have taken forever to open. They are still not all fully opened but it’s been two months this weekend but I am getting impatient with waiting.

Cinnamon is the most difficult to get close up photos of because she is the most shy and also she doesn’t keep her head still so any close ups I get are often blurred.

Apricot

Apricot

Dandelion's close up

Dandelion

Cinnamon

Cinnamon

The three amigos

The three amigos

Their close up

Their close up

This is my favourite photo of the three of them so far. What beautiful little girls.

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The water bottles

I put the water bottles above the ladders to insure the three amigos could always get to water. Apricot got the hang of it straight away and we had seen Dandelion drink from it occasionally but I couldn’t get Cinnamon to get the hang of it.

Cinnamon always drank from the water dish as if she was really thirsty whereas the other two didn’t. I tried to teach Cinnamon how to use the water bottle.

I held her with her beak to the nozzle while I tapped it to release a droplet but she just didn’t get it. I tried putting her next to another girl drinking from it but again she didn’t get it.

Today I decided that I would remove the water bottles and hey presto! For the first time Cinnamon was drinking from the bottle.

Cinnamon drinks from the water bottle.

Cinnamon drinks from the water bottle.

Who would have thought it! The day I was going to remove it she finally got the hang of it. I have now decided the water bottles can stay. It will give me peace of mind that if we are out on a hot day she will always be able to get to water.

She is the slowest to cotton on to anything new but she got there in the end. Well done Cinnamon!

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Togetherness

Yesterday there were a few sweet moments of togetherness in the flock. In the morning it involved egg laying and in the afternoon it involved dust bathing.

We had our first, five egg day, of the year. This time three bigger girls and two little girls. There was a lot of commotion as several girls wanted to lay at the same time and in the same nest box. Eventually Speckles, Emerald and Barley got their eggs laid and things calmed down a bit.

Freckles and Rusty then settled in the nest box together.

Freckles and Rusty share a nest box

Freckles and Rusty share a nest box

They look so sweet together

They look so sweet together

Shortly after this photo Freckles laid her egg and a little later Rusty laid her egg.

During the course of the day most of the girls had a dust bath. It was really good to see the three amigos dust bathing together before I went out on my rounds. Later Peaches, Barley and Speckles were dust bathing and then Freckles followed by Rusty once she had laid her egg.

A little later Emerald was dust bathing with Apricot joining in and pecking and scratching very close to her. This was heartwarming to see.

Emerald and Apricot dust bath together

Emerald and Apricot dust bath together

Emerald and Apricot

Emerald and Apricot

Apricot and Emerald

Apricot and Emerald

They were very happy in very close proximity to each other. This was so lovely to see. I think we finally have got them mixing happily.

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A new fence

In February my husband gave the huge rambling rose on our fence a really good prune. This rose was already in the garden, and well established, when we moved in ten years ago. It does provide a good screen between us and the neighbours but it is very fast growing and lethal when pruning.

Behind it the fence panels and posts have rotted away. My husband gave it the hardest prune we have ever given it so that we could see what was going on with the fence. The rose had blown over into the neighbours garden in the winter and we had to go round and push it back again. My husband attached some poles to the fence to tie the rose to, to keep it from blowing over again.

The rose has a hard prune

The rose has a hard prune

The rose was up to the top of the remaining pole and it’s pruning has left the garden very open and overlooked. The fence is rather low and is in worse condition than it looks in the photo.

The poles and broken trellis are removed

The poles and broken trellis are removed

A few months later

A few months later

Fence

The rose is growing back

It is actually our neighbours fence but they have a young child and are now paying for child care so Mum can go back to work and money is tight. We have talked to them about the fence and have explained that we are happy to pay to have it replaced as it would benefit us both and as we have a wall on the other side of our garden we haven’t had to pay for any maintenance of our boundaries (except for the fence at the back behind the chicken shed). They reluctantly agreed.

We have been waiting for the last two months for our usual guy, who did our chicken run and back fence, to fit us in, but heĀ is snowed under with work. We had a brainwave and asked our other neighbour, all round handy man, if he would be able to do the job. He quoted us a price and we agreed for him to do the work.

Our plan was to make the fence a bit higher than before by putting gravel boards in first and then the fence on top. Then we would tie the rose to our side of the fence making it easier to manage and easier to keep on our side.

On Monday morning work began. The old posts were taken out and the old panels removed. It was odd seeing it so open.

The old fence panels are removed

The old fence panels are removed

The holes were dug out for the new posts. Today the new fence panels are up.

The new fence panels are up

The new fence panels are up

The rose is tied back to the fence once more

The rose is tied back to the fence once more

We are really pleased with this. We now have more privacy from the neighbours and we will be able to manage the rose and to keep it on our side. Knowing how vigorous this rose is we feel sure it will soon cover the fence once more. A job well done and an improvement for us and the neighbours.

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Veg plot

At the weekend we got our veg plot started. My husband dug it over and then dug in the contents of our compost bin.

We had had potatoes chitting for a while and he planted a row of earlies. They are beside the path, from the labelled stick, down to the step. He then planted broad beans at the far end on the right and runner beans at the near end on the left.

Veg plot

Veg plot

It’s a bit empty at the moment but it’s too early to plant anything else yet. We have only planted a few runner beans as we intend to plant some dwarf beans later. We will also have tomatoes and courgettes and we have some fir apple potatoes chitting but they need to be planted later. We may add a chilli plant as that did well last year and we will decide what else to plant as we go along.

We have gone for different types of potato this year as last year’s were not very successful. We are hoping to have better luck this year but you never know how the year will turn out. It is good to have made a start though and makes us feel like summer is on it’s way.

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An abundance of eggs

Yesterday was the first day this year that all four bigger girls laid on the same day. It’s the fourth, four egg, day but each time before it’s been three bigger girls and one little girl. Today both little girls laid. Shame they didn’t lay yesterday and give me a record, six egg, day. But all the laying girls in two days is pretty good going. I am loving all the eggs.

All four bigger girls laid yesterday and Rusty and Freckles laid today

All four bigger girls laid yesterday and Rusty and Freckles laid today

From left to right they are Emerald's, Speckles, Rusty's, Freckles, Peaches and Barley's eggs

From left to right they are Emerald’s, Speckles, Rusty’s, Freckles, Peaches and Barley’s eggs

Speckles still lays the biggest egg. Peaches and Barley’s eggs are the whitest in colour.

Rusty'd egg is on the left and Freckles tiny egg is on the right

Rusty’s egg is on the left and Freckles tiny egg is on the right

Rusty’s eggs have remained bigger than Freckles eggs. Freckles eggs are very round. It has been a week since Freckles last egg so it’s good to see her laying again and without a problem this time. I don’t know what caused her little blip.

Her last tiny egg that she laid a week ago had a good, hard, shell (we have eaten it now) so I don’t know what the problem was. However she had no problem today so hopefully all is fine with her.

I never tire of all these lovely eggs and plan to have scrambled egg for dinner one night this week. Thank you girls.

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The girls are finally mixing

It has been a real problem getting the three amigos brave enough to get to the food and water. I had been separating them three times a day to give them a chance at food and water in peace.

A few days ago I decided that I would have to put in another feeding station out in the run. I have never had to do this before but these three girls are the most timid we have ever had.

I decided to put a small dish of mash and a small dish of water, on the wooden block, that holds the gate open to the furthest part of the run. I use a block to wedge the gate open rather than a brick so that if the girls dig round it and it slides, it is light and it wont hurt their feet.

This is also an ideal spot to put food where it won’t get soil scratched into it and being behind the top part of the run it offers a bit of screen from the other girls. The three amigos can go to this spot whenever the rest of the flock are in the top part of the run.

Apricot is the first to find the new feeding station

Apricot is the first to find the new feeding station

Dandelion and Cinnamon soon find it too

Dandelion and Cinnamon soon find it too

This is now working well

This is now working well

The three amigos soon got used to going to this feeding station whenever the other girls were occupied or in the top part of the run. With this new routine they seem to have grown in confidence and have finally started to mix with the other girls. There were moments yesterday when the entire flock were hanging out in the sun together. Rusty and Freckles have also started perching on the ladder with the three amigos.

We finally feel that we have turned a corner and the flock is becoming united again. I think they will gradually continue to grow in confidence.

A few days ago I was surprised to find an egg in the shelter. I deduced that it was Speckles egg as it was huge and she lays the biggest eggs plus she hadn’t laid for a few days so was due an egg. Yesterday I saw her settle in the shelter and flick stray shavings on to her back and I realised that I had been correct in my assumption that it was Speckles egg.

I have no idea why she has suddenly decided this is a good place to lay but that’s fine. It makes a big nest box and when we eventually have more girls laying it won’t harm to have extra egg laying places.

Speckles finds a new place to lay her egg

Speckles finds a new place to lay her egg

Of course there is always an audience, in this case Peaches and Freckles.

Yesterday Rusty laid her second egg, three days after her first one. Freckles hasn’t laid another egg since her extra small one, six days ago.

Rusty's second egg

Rusty’s second egg

Rusty’s first egg is on the left followed by her second egg. Freckles last two eggs are on the right. Rusty’s second egg is the same large size and pale colour as her first egg but with no blood on it this time. If I have eggs to compare it will be easy to tell Rusty’s and Freckles eggs apart.

This was our third, four egg, day. As well as Rusty’s egg we had eggs from Speckles, Peaches and Emerald. We are now getting enough eggs for Saturday and Sunday breakfast plus one breakfast during the week and one evening meal during the week. We have two eggs each for breakfast and this week had an omelette for dinner using six eggs.

It is so lovely being able to eat as many eggs as we like without having to buy any and at last the girls are beginning to mix. All is good in the chicken run.

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Spring in the garden

The garden is bursting with spring colour at the moment. The clematis on the fence outside our kitchen window flowers first but is followed by the clematis on the rose arch. The one on the fence is a pink/mauve but the one on the rose arch is a blue/mauve.

Clematis outside our kitchen window

Clematis outside our kitchen window

Clematis on the rose arch

Clematis on the rose arch

It's so pretty

I think the blue one is even prettier

These bell shaped clematis are the only ones that do well in this garden.

These tulips are bright when closed

These tulips are bright when closed

But are absolutely vibrant when open

But are absolutely vibrant when open

These tulips have been here since we moved in ten years ago and flower every year but have never made more. The group of four stays just the same every year which sort of amuses me.

Primulas on the other hand, have spread all over the garden and pulmonarias spread like weeds. Even the hellebores are spreading. I love seeing the changes in the garden through the seasons and also through the years.

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Bedtime works like a dream

This integration has been the most difficult one for a long time. One thing that has gone like clockwork though is the bedtime routine. I was dreading it and yet it went much easier than with the previous little girls.

This is because all the groups have their own perch. I knew that there would be no way that Rusty and Freckles would let the three amigos share their perch so we put up two new perches in the opposite corner to theirs.

It only took two nights of putting the three girls on their perch for them to get the hang of it. Now there is no fuss at bedtime. Watching them last night we could see the order that they go in.

Emerald is always in first after the bedtime corn. It is often up to an hour later before the rest of the girls go in. All the bigger girls go in and settle on the, higher perch, at the back of the shed. Rusty and Freckles go in next and settle on their perch on the left of the shed. The three amigos go in last and go straight to their perch in the right hand corner above the pop hole.

We have also just made two amendments to the perches. We have taken out the back rail on Freckles and Rusty’s perch as we put it in for passing room with more than two girls. With only two girls here it is no longer needed. A single rail is better as it further from the side wall giving the two girls more space.

Freckles and Rusty on their perch

Freckles and Rusty on their perch

Apricot, Cinnamon and Dandelion on their perch

Apricot, Cinnamon and Dandelion on their perch

We also took out the high, bigger perch, that was above these two smaller perches. Apricot had been going up to the higher one and I didn’t like her having such a big drop down in the morning. There is no need for a higher one as we put it in when we had more bigger girls than now. There is plenty of space on the back perch for the bigger girls.

This arrangement of perches keeps each set of girls well away from each other which means none of the head pecking that used to go on at bedtime. Bedtime is now the one time that the flock are in harmony. I am so happy with this part of their routine.

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