A change in bedtime roosting positions

We got our new chicken shed in July last year. At the time we had seven little girls and three bigger girls. Before getting seramas I did a lot of research about them. I read that a broom handle is just right the size for bedtime perches for them.

With this in mind we put a broom handle perch across the back of the shed for the little girls and a wider perch across the side for the three bigger girls. This worked like a dream and the seven seramas were always perched at the back and the three bigger girls were always perched at the side.

The little girls filled the back perch and I knew that this was the maximum size of flock for this shed and in fact would have preferred a bit more space but the girls found their positions every night without any problems.

As time went on we lost three of the little girls. Now the four remaining little girls looked rather lost on their perch. There was loads of space on their back perch.

At this point Ebony started roosting on the back perch in the right hand corner where the two perches are close together. I worried that this wouldn’t be good for her feet and every evening I lifted her and placed her on the side perch.

Ebony protested at being moved and sometimes if there was enough light she would move back. I knew that the reason she was doing this was because there wasn’t much space on the three bigger girls’ perch whereas there was lots of space on the little girls’ perch. It made sense, as our biggest girl, that Ebony wanted to perch where there was more space.

I considered if it was possible to make the back perch wider in the corner that Ebony liked to perch. I went back to researching the correct size perch for different breed’s of chicken.

My research showed that different sized breeds, such as standard sized birds and bantams, need different sized perches and in a mixed sized flock there should be different sized perches available. It said that the way to measure it is that the hens toes should not meet around the perch. There should be a gap between their toes but equally their toes shouldn’t be stretched out so that it would be difficult to grip the perch.

With this in mind I checked Ebony’s toes on the smaller girls’ perch and found that there was still a good gap between her toes. I tried Flame and Speckles on the smaller perch too and it was the same with them. I also checked the little girls’ toes on the small perch and the size looks perfect for them.

This has put my mind at rest that Ebony is fine on the little girls’ perch. It will be less stressful for her to leave her to choose where to perch at night. Since I been leaving her to it she has roosted in the back corner spot every night.

The girls when we first got the new shed in July 2019
A few weeks later

Notice how different Spangle looks in the photo above and the photo below. She has lost most of the black plumage. She is our most, changed girl, ever.

The girls current preferred positions at bedtime
I had been moving Ebony to this position
Ebony back in her preferred position

I am happy with the space that the girls now have and having checked their feet on the perches I am now happy to let Ebony perch where she wants to.

Sometimes it is good to research these things again for peace of mind. I want our flock to be as happy as they can be.

On another note I am really pleased with this shed. I recently cleaned out the shavings and replaced them. It is so quick and easy to do this and it only takes one small bale of pine shavings instead of the large bale that the old shed took.

This shed is so easy to keep clean and to keep red mites at bay. I have also checked if there is any condensation over the winter and there hasn’t been any. This is definitely the best chicken shed we have had. The girls look happy with it too and the space is perfect for them.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

An update on each of the girls

At the moment we still have only Smoke and Ebony laying. Smoke has laid eleven eggs in fifteen days and Ebony has laid six eggs in thirteen days. Smoke is a really good layer. She will eventually go broody though.

Flame hasn’t shown any interest in the nest boxes since the day when she was in the nest box putting pine shavings on her back. This is surprising as I thought that meant she was ready to start soon.

Speckles also hasn’t shown any interest in the nest box since that day either. There have been wet poops under her roost spot since that day though. This, I think, is definitely proof that this is a hormonal thing for her. As soon as her comb goes red and she starts looking ready to lay she starts with wet poops again.

Speckles seems absolutely fine in herself though and this has now been going on for the last few years so I am not worried about her. I think it will probably be a while before she lays if at all.

Spangle was just being nosy about why Speckles was in the nest box and also hasn’t looked in a nest box since that day.

Marmite hasn’t yet shown any interest in the nest boxes and she is the second best, little girl, layer.

Salmon also hasn’t shown any interest in the nest boxes which doesn’t surprise me as Salmon and Spangle are erratic layers.

Salmon is still wheezing though. This has now been going on for a long time. I have treated with tylan several times and at one point went on for three weeks and it made no difference. My experience with myco in the past has been that once treated the strong girls get better and the girls with any other under laying problem or weakness decline until we lose them.

Salmon has proved different. Salmon hasn’t got better or worse and seems absolutely fine in every other way except that she has a wheeze. I can tell when she is nearby because I can hear her. This is so odd. We have wondered if she has some sort of blockage causing her wheeze although at the back of my mind the prospect of myco is always there.

There is nothing to be done but just wait and see what happens with Salmon. Apart from her wheeze she behaves just like any other of the girls.

Speckles looks great with a red comb
Ebony still has some white on her head
Flame looks great
Smoke also still has white on her head
Marmite has white on her head too.
Salmon looks fine
Spangle looks great and has a red face and comb
Little girls together

The flock looks great and I am very happy with them. The number at the moment is a good number. The only reason I increased the flock size when I brought in the five amigos was that I wanted to guard against losses as the seramas seem so fragile.

I had only ever added two or three at a time before. I think it was the right thing to do as I lost five girls last year which was a blow. The flock size now is perfect and there is ample room in the smaller chicken shed.

I just don’t want to lose any more. That’s a daft thing to say though because, of course, we never want to lose girls. I just hope that we can keep this flock as it is for a long time. I am always aware that the vulnerable ones are Speckles because of her age and Salmon because of her wheeze.

I just hope that despite that we can stay as a flock of seven as long as possible as the flock is so lovely as it is now. I know that things never stay the same in chicken world but I hope that it does so for a good while to come.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

Snowdrops

I love seeing snowdrops in the garden even if they are in drizzle.

Snowdrops on a drizzly day

They do provide a bit of brightness in what has been a very wet winter.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

More girls getting ready to start egg laying

I have been surprised to see Speckles going in the nest box over the last week. Last year she laid one egg in March and five more in June. I wasn’t really expecting her to lay at all this year let alone to start earlier. It has been a milder winter though.

Yesterday Flame also tried out the nest box and she started laying half way through February last year so the milder weather may be having an effect on the girls.

Flame in the nest box
Flame putting pine shavings on her back
Flame comes out and Speckles looks in
Speckles looks in the nest box
Speckles comb is getting bigger and redder
Speckles tries out the other nest box
Spangle also wants to see what is going on
Spangle takes a look in the nest box

After all this nest box action just Ebony laid yesterday and just Smoke today. I am sure that Flame will start soon though as this was typical practising before getting started. It seems that Speckles is thinking about it too but I think it will be a bit longer before she starts. I think Spangle was probably just being nosy.

It is quite amusing to see all this action around the nest boxes. I am hopeful that I won’t have to buy any eggs soon. It will be lovely to have enough of our girls’s eggs to not need to supplement with shop bought eggs.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

The last jigsaw

I promise my blog isn’t turning into a blog about jigsaw puzzle reviews and normal chicken news will resume tomorrow. It’s just that this jigsaw was the last one in the cupboard from last year’s Christmas gifts.

I think that last year we just didn’t have spare time for things like jigsaws so it got forgotten and then was rediscovered this Christmas. This year we have more time due to cutting back on our business.

I started this jigsaw at the weekend and it took three days to complete. It has seven hundred and fifty pieces and it was a joy.

I have realised that what makes a good jigsaw is when it is addictive. I couldn’t resist adding a few pieces every time I walked past it. Every time I spent time on it I had to remind myself when it was time to stop and get other things done such as cooking dinner.

It was like six jigsaws in one as it was divided up into six squares. It was fun being able to move from one square to the next. There was so much colour and variety that it was interesting to do and there was no frustrating end to it. Also it was obvious when the pieces fitted and I didn’t have to keep redoing areas like in the last jigsaw. This jigsaw was completely satisfying.

The next jigsaw with the outside completed

Getting the inside lines in place and making a start on the squares
Some of the squares are coming together

Some of the squares are almost completed

One completed square and three very nearly complete with just a few elusive pieces missing

Another square almost completed and the missing pieces are now in the other three squares

Just the more difficult black background to complete
The jigsaw is complete

I think this may have been the most enjoyable jigsaw of all. My favourite square is the reptile on the bottom left. He is so beautiful and the crab is also so colourful.

And that is it for jigsaws for now. I have taken some photos of the girls for a post tomorrow so watch this space.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

A new settee

We have had our leather settee for nearly twenty years. It was expensive at the time and we bought a matching chair with it. It has moved three times with us so it was never bought with our current sitting room in mind.

It was very big and only just fitted in this sitting room. It was very comfortable though and I would curl up in my corner of the settee every evening while we watched television.

Recently the leather on my cushion wore through. I asked my lovely husband if he thought it could be repaired and he said that the whole thing was tired and it didn’t owe us anything.

It was a chance to choose a smaller settee that would fit the room better. We measured our settee and set out to look for a replacement with it in mind that it had to be smaller.

We very quickly found one that we thought was perfect. It was a small two seater settee and as luck would have it it was half price. This was because it had been in the showroom a while and the three seater settee and the chairs had all sold leaving just this settee.

We had decided that we weren’t matching a chair this time. The chair that came with our settee was not comfortable and we have barely used it. It was also rather big for the room. We had decided to look for a leather Chesterfield or Queen Anne shaped chair that would be taller but narrower. We have furnished our home from antique shops and a few family pieces so we are used to putting different pieces together.

The new settee is reclining which wasn’t something we were looking for. However as we looked around a few furniture shops it soon became apparent that all the leather settees were reclining. It must be the current trend.

This settee was much less expensive than our original settee and to our surprise came with a fifteen year guarantee on the settee itself and a five year guarantee on the leather plus the usual leather care kit.

We saved more money by taking it away ourselves as it came apart into two pieces and fitted in our van. Another bonus was that our friends who live opposite us said that they would take our old settee for their boys to have in their playroom.

Our old settee
Doesn’t look too bad at a distance
But close up the leather is very worn
The new settee
We can now see the pretty side table
We have more space

The colour is lighter which fits in well with our wooden furniture. The side table came through my husband’s family and was hidden before by the height of the arm on the old settee.

It looks much better with the room and it is quite soft. I think it will be reasonably easy to find a chair that will fit with it. We are really pleased with our new settee.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

A jigsaw of two halves

Last weekend I decided to get started on the next jigsaw. Bare in mind that I had plenty of time as it was the weekend with nothing pressing needing to be done and we were both still full of cold so didn’t feel like doing much.

As always I sorted out the straight bits and got the outside edge completed. This was relatively easy and I wondered if this puzzle was going to be too easy. It had five hundred pieces so is only half the size of the vintage car jigsaw.

The start of another jigsaw

I started with the vintage car on the bottom left of the photo.

Coming along

At this stage there was plenty of variety and it was still fairly easy and came together quite quickly.

Now it’s getting difficult

I was about to start the tree at the top right of the jigsaw when I realised that the top edge wasn’t right. The bits all fitted perfectly but it wasn’t right. There were bits of sky in the wrong place. If you look closely at the top edge of the photo above and the photo below you can just see it isn’t quite right.

I actually spent quite a while rearranging the top edge until I had it right. The photo above was as far as I had got by the second day except that I had rearranged the top edge correctly. I had spent so long getting the top edge right that I had had enough for now.

Now it’s getting really difficult

The tree at the top of the jigsaw was really difficult as bits would fit and then I would realise that they were wrong. Every time I had almost completed this top tree the last couple of pieces wouldn’t fit. I would have to keep taking it apart and trying the pieces in different places until finally they fitted.

It’s now level pegging with the sprout jigsaw

Finally I had got the top tree completed and now all that was left was the bottom tree. Like the sprout jigsaw all the remaining pieces looked the same. Also like the sprout jigsaw a lot of pieces were the same shape and so pieces would fit but not be correct. As it was a better quality than the sprout jigsaw the wrong pieces fitted easily in the wrong place.

It became every bit as frustrating as the sprout jigsaw. This is why I called it a jigsaw of two halves. The first half was fairly easy but this second half was as difficult as the sprouts were.

There was also one piece missing despite the jigsaw never having been opened before. If you look carefully at the bottom left of the above photo there is a piece of brick wall missing just above the right wing of the car, or left wing facing.

The progress on this tree was even slower and I would get just a few pieces in at a time. Time and again I would fit a few pieces only to then take them out again. When I finally got down to the last six pieces it was still really difficult and I would try each piece in each space several times before finding a piece that fitted correctly.

Then there came a point that I have never got to with a jigsaw before. I had one piece left and it didn’t fit. I have never got to the last piece before only to find it didn’t fit. It would fit but wasn’t right as it was in the middle of the tree but had a bit of outside sky on it. I traced around the edge of the tree several times. Eventually I spotted a piece on the left edge of the tree that could have a bit of sky. I switched two pieces, one from the edge of the tree and one from inside the tree and bingo! It fitted.

The finished jigsaw

Hurrah! At last it was finished. I have never come across a jigsaw so different in different parts. This one took me three days compared to the five days of the vintage cars but had half the number of pieces and I spent longer spells on it. From starting out easy it got progressively more difficult.

The vintage cars jigsaw was by far the most enjoyable. This one ended up being very annoying.

I hope the next jigsaw is more enjoyable.

Posted in Chickens | 2 Comments

We have eggs

Smoke laid her first egg the day before yesterday. This morning first thing she was back in the nest box and laid her second egg of the year.

A little while later Ebony was having a spin round both the nest boxes that are side by side. She had had a brief look in them the day before so I thought that she was getting ready to lay. Ebony does a lot of scratching in the nest box before she settles so I left her to it.

I returned a few hours later and Ebony was back out in the run. I checked the nest box and sure enough there was Ebony’s first egg of the year.

We have eggs

On the right is Smoke’s first egg, in the middle is Smoke’s second egg and on the left is Ebony’s first egg of the year.

I am really pleased to have eggs so early in the year. At this rate these two girls will soon be providing the weekend breakfast eggs until a few more girls start laying.

Well done Ebony!

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

The first egg of the year

This morning Smoke was in and out of the two nest boxes that are side by side. I knew she was getting ready to lay again. A few hours later I could hear Smoke shouting. There was her egg in her favourite nest box.

The first egg of the year

It has been twenty five days since Smoke last laid. She had a week broody and then a further two week break which isn’t bad at all.

This is an earlier start to the year than I was expecting. It will be interesting to see who lays next. It will also be great to have our own eggs again. Well done Smoke!

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

And back to chickens

I thought I had better do a chicken post as I seem to have gone on to other subjects lately.

The girls are all fine and there hasn’t been too much to say but no news is good news. Yesterday I gave them a dish mash just to try to get a few group photos.

Some mash for the girls
They share one dish nicely
They do like a bit of mash

They are a pretty flock and are all getting along well apart from Ebony being a bit of a thug from time to time but that’s nothing new.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments