Coronavirus

Every single blog I follow is talking about Coronavirus and I have so far held off mentioning it but it has come to the point that I can’t any longer.

This is having such a huge impact. For us as self employed caterers our business ended abruptly. Every single lunch or event we had in our diary has been cancelled. All our corporate companies have informed us that they won’t be having catering until this has passed.

We had two events booked for April which would have given us a boost but both have now been cancelled. Our diary is empty which is really weird.

However we are very lucky that we were already downsizing towards eventual retirement. We are debt free and have some savings so we will sit it out. We feel very sorry for businesses that will be much more badly effected. This last week with no work has felt like a practice retirement.

A few years ago when we had a mortgage, overdraft and a loan on the vans this would have put us terribly in debt. We have worked hard in the past to become debt free so we would be able slow down and thank goodness this has now put us in a position that means we will be able to cope. Our hearts go out to all of those that will be very worried at the moment.

Because I have had a week with nothing to do I have been shopping for ingredients and cooking every day to make meals for the freezer. We have a large work freezer with no work in it so it seemed wise to fill it with healthy home cooked meals.

We are preparing for the possibility of having to stay indoors soon. At the moment we have only ventured out to go to the shops while we still can. We are doing no socialising but are keeping in touch with family through phone calls and e-mails.

I have also stocked up on chicken supplies. We do have the advantage of a supply of eggs from the girls.

These are very worrying times and I hope everyone is doing what they need to to stay safe. I wish for everyone to stay healthy while we wait for this pass.

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Salmon has laid a proper egg

I thought that Salmon was getting ready to lay as she was at the grit yesterday and quite vocal and once again went in the nest box by the gate for a few minutes.

Yesterday Marmite laid her egg at bedtime and at dusk I had to lift her from the nest box to the chicken shed and her egg was in the nest box beside her. It is the first time this year that she has laid two days running.

This morning Smoke was in the nest box first thing and laid her egg which is the usual large size for a little girl.

At lunch time I checked the nest boxes and Spangle’s torpedo shaped egg was in her usual nest box and there was another egg in the nest box by the gate. This could only be Salmon’s as all the other little girls had laid. It has a good shell but has quite a pointed shape.

I am so pleased with this as it is a good sign that all is well with Salmon.

Salmon’s pointed egg is on the left, then Spangle’s torpedo shaped egg next, then Marmite’s egg, then Smoke’s larger round egg is on the right
I moved Smoke’s egg to the other end as a comparison of how large Smoke’s eggs are
Back in the original order I have added Flame’s egg at the left of the line up for a size comparison

There isn’t an egg from Ebony as we ate it for breakfast yesterday!

We now have all the girls laying apart from our old girl Speckles so this is all good. I am so pleased that Salmon laid a good egg with no problems. I think her eggs will probably be normal from now on.

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A mystery solved

This morning I found another tiny egg in the chicken shed. I now know that it is Salmon laying them. Yesterday afternoon Salmon was very vocal and sat in a nest box for a few minutes then gave up. I felt sure she was ready to lay.

Ebony and Flame are laying. I don’t really have any expectations about Speckles this year. Smoke, Marmite and Spangle are all laying regularly now. That only leaves Salmon.

Salmon has been wheezing since last summer. I have treated with tylan three times and it has had no effect on her wheezing. Yet Salmon looks healthy and is doing all the usual chicken things and she has a beautifully red comb and face.

I wonder if her wheeze is why she is laying these tiny eggs and yet I am not altogether sure that is. Salmon has always had difficulty laying and laid several soft shelled eggs last summer. Salmon used to look poorly before laying which isn’t the case now so as long as these eggs stay tiny I think that it isn’t causing her any problems.

It is most peculiar though and I have only come across these tiny eggs before when a girl is laying for the very first time. The shell is soft and when I picked it up it dented which is why the top is flat in the photo below.

Another tiny egg
Complete with yolk
Salmon has a lovely red comb

At least I now know these eggs are from Salmon. It will be interesting to see what her next egg is like. If Salmon’s comb was pale I would be worried about her but as long as her comb remains red like this I don’t think there is anything to worry about.

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A dust bathing session

For the first time in ages we had some sunshine today. It sparked off a massive dust bathing session.

A mass communal dust bathing session
I wonder why Speckles is the only girl on the other side of the wire

It looks as if Smoke is thinking the same thing

It was lovely to see all of the girls enjoying a dust bath. Spangle and Salmon were so close together that they look like one girl.

Egg laying has also picked up now. All that is except for Salmon. Salmon has only laid two eggs and they were two weeks apart. I can’t help thinking that her permanent wheeze is the reason she is not laying although she continues to look well.

Spangle has now laid six eggs. Marmite has laid seven. Smoke has laid three in four days since she has started again. Ebony has laid four in seven days since she started again. Flame has been laying every other day since she started at the beginning of February.

We have now had our first two, four egg days, today and two days ago. The first one was Flame, Ebony, Spangle and Marmite and today it was Ebony, Spangle, Marmite and Smoke.

For the first time this year I was able to give a few eggs away to our new neighbours. They are lovely neighbours which is a great relief and they have been round to be introduced to our flock.

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This and that and a bit of everything

I planted some savoy cabbages at the allotment late last summer as they were reduced to a pound to get rid of them. I thought it was probably too late for them to come to anything and it was. They didn’t heart up and ended up getting a bit eaten by caterpillars.

However my husband bought them home last week for the girls. I gave them a couple each day and they loved them. They stripped them until there were just stalks left by the end of the day.

The girls enjoy a cabbage stalk
Nothing from the allotment gets wasted here
Marmite is missing at the cabbage stalk because she is here
This has become a part of Marmite’s pre egg laying routine

Marmite has now laid six eggs this year. From the first one she has settled on top of the nest box instead of inside it. I have blocked the gap between the store cabinet and the nest box, with my box of disposable gloves, just in case she lays here so that her egg wouldn’t roll down the back and break.

For the first three of Marmite’s eggs I ended up shutting Marmite in the nest box in the hope that it would help her get the right idea. After that I decided to leave her to it as I don’t want to have to do this every time. To my surprise she laid the next three eggs in the nest box.

It seems that Marmite has developed a habit of sitting on the nest box until she is ready to lay and then she moves into the nest box to lay her egg. I am pleased that she is laying in the nest box but I can’t imagine why she has to sit on top of it for a while first.

Who knows what goes on inside that little bird brain! I am not going to worry about it now that I know she will go inside to lay. I shall just leave her to do as she wishes.

Then the next odd thing happened. Yesterday morning when I cleaned the chicken shed I found a tiny egg. It was just like the first eggs that these little girls laid at the very start of egg laying. It was really surprising as Salmon, Spangle and Marmite have already started laying.

I can only wonder if it belongs to Smoke as she hasn’t been laying since going broody. Smoke was broody for two weeks and it’s now been a further week since she came out of broodiness so I would be expecting her to start laying again soon. This has never happened after being broody before though. It is most odd and I guess I can never be certain which girl laid it.

A tiny egg that was in the chicken shed in the morning
Next to Marmite’s egg for size comparison
It was perfectly formed inside

This is a mystery. It will be interesting to see if Smoke lays over the next few days. If not I have no explanation for this.

And in other news Ebony has laid an egg after a month’s break. Hopefully this means she is back laying again. It seems that she started a month earlier than Flame and then took a month off to catch up.

Whatever the reason it will be good to have two bigger girls laying. The boost in eggs means that I no longer need to buy any eggs. At the moment there are enough eggs for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays and one mid week breakfast too. Hurrah!

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A new chair for the sitting room

Six weeks ago we bought our new leather settee for the sitting room and started looking for a leather chair to go with it. It didn’t matter about matching it as the other chairs already in our sitting room are all different.

However we looked in every furniture shop in the surrounding area to us and we couldn’t find anything that we liked. We then started looking online and found a chair that we thought would be right. It is a chesterfield shape with Queen Anne legs and the leather is aged to look vintage. This hopefully means that wear won’t notice on it as it looks old already.

We have never bought anything as big as furniture online before and were nervous about buying a chair without seeing it in the flesh and trying it out but as we couldn’t find anything we liked in the shops we decided to go for it. It was also a better price than any of the chairs in the shops.

We were given a one to three week delivery slot. We decided to get rid of the old chair as we really didn’t like it and didn’t want to look at it any longer. We broke it up and and put the bits in our bin.

The three weeks passed and still no sign of our chair. I got in touch with the company and didn’t get a reply at first and started to feel uneasy. Then I got a call saying the chair had been dispatched to the delivery company and they would text me with a date for delivery soon. Another week passed and just as I was about to get in touch again I got a text saying it would be delivered today, Saturday. It was now five weeks since I had ordered it.

The corner of the sitting room had looked empty and sad for all these weeks. We had probably been too quick to get rid of the old chair but hadn’t expected the new one to be so long arriving.

Empty corner waiting for a chair
The new chair
A reminder of the settee
Other chairs in the room
Settee and chair
New Chair

In truth it isn’t as we had pictured it. It is bigger than I had imagined it. It is also more different in colour to the settee than I had imagined it although I had expected it to be lighter in colour. Both the settee and the chair are described as tan but are totally different shades. Maybe it’s just making the transition from only seeing it as a photograph and seeing it in the flesh.

I think also having looked at an empty corner for so long makes it seem odd to now see it filled again whereas if we had just removed one chair for another it may have seemed less odd.

I think it’s just going to be a matter of getting used to it. I had hoped that I would love it straight away but we are both agreed that we haven’t seen anything else we like so we just need to allow it to grow on us.

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All is well in the chicken run

I realised that I haven’t put out a post in a while. There were a few more posts as egg laying commenced and then there really hasn’t been much happening which is certainly no bad thing. I can do without dramas!

Spangle laid her second egg of the year three days after her first. This egg was smaller than her first one and had no blood streak on it. It was her usual torpedo shape and slightly darker colour. I think because the first egg took longer for her to lay it was slightly bigger for her and that was why it had the blood streak.

It’s a week ago since Salmon laid her second egg of the year. Salmon isn’t a frequent layer. Marmite has now laid four eggs in six days so not bad at all. Flame continues to lay every other day and Ebony still isn’t laying.

I wonder if it’s because Ebony started laying so early in the year that she isn’t laying now. She started half way through January. Flame started laying half way February both this year and last year. Ebony laid all through the winter last year so she was obviously in her first year. This means I don’t have a comparison.

Spangle is my friendliest little girl and as I went to take a photo of her coming out of the nest box she looked straight up at me for a close up.

Spangle looks up at me
Spangle’s second egg of the year

Marmite’s egg is on the right and Spangle’s egg is on the left. This is her usual beige colour and elongated shape. This is why I have always found it relatively easy to tell the girls’ eggs apart.

I am very happy with the girls this winter. Despite it being a horribly wet winter there haven’t been any problems with the girls which is great and long may it continue.

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Spangle’s first egg of the year

Today Spangle settled in the nest box again. A few times she had a false alarm and would come out of the nest box shouting and I would check and there would be no egg. The next time she came out shouting she had finally got her first egg of the year laid. Well done Spangle!

Spangle’s egg had slight streaks of blood on it but this does sometimes happen on the first egg, especially when it has taken a long time to be laid, so I am not worried.

Spangle’s first egg of the year on the left of the photo

Flame’s egg is on the right, Salmon’s egg is second from the right, Marmite’s egg is third from the right and Spangle’s egg is on the left with a little streak of blood on the shell.

At the same time as Spangle laid her first egg of the year Smoke gave up being broody. I felt that Smoke was getting ready to come out of broodiness as she had been coming out of the nest box more often and staying out for longer over the last couple of days.

It has been exactly two weeks since Smoke went broody. Today Smoke stayed out of the nest box all day. I wondered what she would do at bedtime as I had been lifting her every evening from the nest box to the perch in the chicken shed.

I went up to check after dusk and was very pleased to find Smoke on the perch in the chicken shed. Hurrah! That means Smoke is definitely finished with being broody.

After a bit of break Smoke will start laying again which will be great as she is our best layer. Well done girls!

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Salmon’s second egg of the year and Spangle is practising

Yesterday Salmon laid her second egg of the year and it was in the nest box and had a good shell which is really good news. It was two weeks ago that she laid a soft shelled egg.

Spangle has been quite vocal and has been looking in the nest boxes. Yesterday Spangle settled in the nest box and I thought that she was going to lay her her first egg of the year. Spangle was in the nest box for just over an hour and then she came out but there was no egg.

I think Spangle is practising and will lay soon. One thing I am pleased about is that she was sitting in the nest box. Last year she wanted lay high up and laid an egg on the top of the store cabinet. I then blocked this off and she would sometimes sit on top of the nest box and her egg would roll down behind the nest box and break.

It is good news that Spangle has been sitting in the nest box as hopefully this means this year she will lay her eggs in the right place. Marmite on the other hand always laid in the nest box before but this year she seems to want to sit on top of the nest box. I hope the girls will get the hang of it once they get into their stride.

Spangle in the nest box
Spangle looks like she is getting ready to lay her first egg of the year

It is good to see the girls getting ready lay even it does take a bit of practise first.

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Egg laying

Speckles has had a spin round in the nest box a few times lately and I have also seen her taking the grit. She is still doing sloppy poops but her comb is lovely and red.

Yesterday I missed Speckles in the nest box but she was on the patio with pine shavings on her back. I just happened to have gone in with my camera so took a photo. However because of her white speckles the shavings don’t show up much but trust me they are there.

Speckles has pine shavings on her back

Despite the sloppy poops Speckles isn’t drinking the large amount of water that she was last year. Last year she laid one egg in March and five in June so it will be interesting to see what happens this year. I don’t expect her to lay many but she is definitely looking like she is ready to lay soon.

I really see her age in her eyes though and she always takes her time jumping down from the patio to the run. I try to keep moving earth back, with a spade, to this area to lessen the drop but it soon gets scratched away again. The girls can use the block as a stepping stone but they don’t always take advantage of this.

Flame on the other hand has been laying every other day since she started back at the beginning of the month but yesterday she laid for the second day in a row for the first time this year.

Flame likes to lay in the nest box that broody Smoke is in and I need to remove her egg as soon as possible before Smoke sits on it.

Smoke and Flame share a nest box

Ebony hasn’t laid since the first of February which I find rather strange and yet she has a lovely red comb so I don’t know why this should be.

Marmite hasn’t laid since her first egg although she did sit in the nest box for a while yesterday before giving up so I am sure she will resume soon.

Salmon and Spangle are showing no sign of wanting to lay but again both have lovely red combs so I am not worried. All the girls look healthy and happy so I am not worried about the lack of egg laying.

I don’t imagine there will be any surplus eggs to give away this summer though. We will be doing well if we get enough eggs for ourselves without buying any.

But as long as the girls are happy and healthy that is all that matters to me.

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