Home grown lettuce for the girls

I decided to give the girls a lettuce from our mixed leaves patch in the veg plot. The girls are used to having spinach leaves and spring green leaves so I was surprised to see that they viewed the lettuce with some caution at first.

Speckles called the little girls to the lettuce

As usual Freckles and Rusty are first to investigate.

Emerald joined in

Cinnamon is having a peck at the lettuce.

Apricot investigates

Eventually they realised it was just a different shaped type of green and all greens are good.

By the afternoon there wasn’t much left of the lettuce

Freckles has a last peck at the stalk

I think I can safely say they enjoyed our home grown lettuce.

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The bedtime routine

The bedtime routine has been unchanged for a long time and works like clockwork with no aggravation. My girls are such creatures of habit.

The bigger girls have always perched at the back of the shed. When we got Rusty and Freckles we installed a slightly lower perch on the left side of the shed. We used a broom handle so it was narrower. I had read that this is a comfortable size for the seramas smaller feet. They soon got used to their own perch.

When we added the three amigos to the flock I felt certain that Rusty and Freckles would not share their perch as they gave the new girls such a hard time to start with. We decided to install another perch on the right side of the shed. This is left and right as I face the shed.

I put the new girls on their perch, on the first night sleeping together, after the other girls were in. They stayed put. I watched them the next night and as good as gold they went to their own perch. The beauty of this system is that I knew they were far away enough from each other not be pecked and that’s why there is no aggravation.

After a few weeks I was surprised to see that Cinnamon was perching on the end of the back, bigger girl’s, perch. I worried that she would be lonely and lifted her on to the perch with Dandelion and Apricot. After a week of doing this I decided that Cinnamon obviously wanted to perch there and I have left her to it ever since. She is actually always the first one in so this is her chosen spot.

I think she likes this perch because it is higher and because she has the biggest feet of the seramas she seems comfortable on the wider perch. When I check the girls each night I always know exactly where they will be.

The bedtime positions

You can see why I thought that cinnamon would be lonely.

Speckles and Emerald at the back and Rusty and Freckles at the front

Cinnamon at the back and Dandelion and Apricot at the front

The bedtime routine is the easiest it has ever been. I am well aware though, that if we add new girls, there will probably be chaos. I don’t know where new girls would sleep. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

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Radishes for the girls

I Planted some mixed leaves in the veg plot, with the girls in mind. Some have now turned out to be radishes. I dug up half the radishes and was disappointed to find that they had been nibbled by slugs. I decided to give them to the girls.

I first googled to make sure it was okay to give the girls radishes as I hadn’t done so before. It said that all root veg is good for chickens except for onions and potatoes which are part of the deadly nightshade family and have no nutritional value for chickens anyway. I already knew this but thought I would mention it for anyone new to chickens. It said the radishes may need to be chopped for the chickens to be able to manage them.

I decided to try them as they were first.

The mixed leaves we planted turned out to include radishes

I lifted half the radishes and was disappointed to find the slugs had got them first

As always top girl checks them out first while the little girls stay close to “mother hen”

The bigger girls check first while little girls look on

Rusty and Freckles are always the boldest of the little girls

Rusty and Freckles decided the leaves are good

At the end of the day the girls had pecked at the radishes but found them too hard. They ate all the leaves though. When I dig up the other half I will chop the radishes and give them the leaves with the chopped radishes and see if they eat them all.

Beetroot and beetroot leaves are also fine for the girls but expect pink poop after they eat them.

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A new umbrella

Our patio umbrella was  looking distinctly grotty. We were reluctant to replace it while it still worked though, so we said that once it had stopped functioning, we would then get a new one.

We were forecast high winds overnight so we put the umbrella down to protect it. In the morning when we tried to put it up again the string snapped and we couldn’t open the umbrella. We are not complaining because it is a small price to pay compared to the recent hurricane in America and we are aware how lucky we are.

We went to our local garden centre to see if we could find a replacement. Their umbrellas were a hundred and sixty pounds! What! They must be having a laugh! We were stunned.

We decided to try our local Homebase store. Their umbrellas were forty pounds for tiny ones and a hundred and twenty pounds for large ones. We couldn’t understand the big leap up in price. We didn’t like any of the colours either.

We were going to try B&Q and then a bigger garden centre but decided to try the new Dunelm first which is next to Homebase. I didn’t hold out much hope but on the way out of the store I spotted some garden furniture and umbrellas in their end of season sale.

They only had one large umbrella left but it was reduced from forty pounds to thirty pounds. We couldn’t believe our luck. It was navy blue and while we usually have a green colour to look more natural, beggars can’t be choosers! We grabbed it and thanked our lucky stars.

Dead umbrella

New umbrella

A bargain and a great improvement

We are chuffed to bits with our lucky umbrella!

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Giving the girls a change half way through worming

I decided to give the girls a change from mash mixed with the worming powder, flubenvet.  I chopped some grapes into the four little dishes then added the powder and gave it a mix.

The grapes went quickly so I think the girls liked the change.

Chopped grapes with flubenvet

All the girls get a share

“Mother hen”, Speckles, is taking bits of grape from the dish and dropping them in front of the little girls. She did get her share once she had made sure that all the little girls had had some.

For the rest of the week I will continue to mix the flubenvet with mash as it is less messy. The powder mixed with grape juice settles at the bottom of the dishes and gets flicked onto the patio area. It is much cleaner using mash as the powder stays mixed with it.

I thought it would give the girls a change as they are half way through worming. I have found no worms so it seems that they are clear, which is good, but it will act as a preventative measure. The girls are happy enough to get a little dish of mash each day.

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Emerald is feeling her age

I can definitely tell that Emerald is feeling her age. She has slowed down and spends a lot of time on her favourite perch. She is happy and healthy so I have no issues with her but she has changed over time.

After the morning treats, the lunchtime fruit and the evening treats she makes her way straight to her favourite perch. After the evening treats she will stay there until bedtime.

During the day she will sit in the run especially if she can find a patch of sunshine. If she is on her favourite perch she doesn’t bother to leave it just for greens. She will eat greens if she happens to be near them. She dust baths but she does spend a lot of time sitting or perching. Her face and comb are a good pink colour and her feathers are lovely and glossy. She is just an elderly girl taking it easy.

Emerald stands on her favourite perch

She will stand on her perch in the morning and sit on her perch in the early evening.

Emerald sits on her favourite perch

She is a creature of habit and this is most definitely her special spot. She goes up the ladder to this perch.

We have had Emerald for just over four years and she was an adult girl of possibly a couple of years old when we got her. She has risen up from the bottom of the pecking order to the top since we have had her. She has always been a favourite with both her beautiful looks and her lovely nature.

I hope that she continues to stay well and be part of our flock for some years to come. I can’t imagine my flock without her regal presence. She is a really beautiful girl.

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A little patch of sun

At this time of year the sun is patchy in the chicken run. The girls will always find a patch of sun though.

Sitting in a patch of sun

First they were on one side of the run and then a little later on the other side of the run.

Snoozing in another patch of sun

They are experts at following the sun around.

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Worming the girls

It’s that time of year again! I worm the girls twice a year, in March and in September. I use flubenvet powder and one box does the year. I find the easiest way for me, is to make up four little dishes of mash. I then sprinkle on a level measuring spoon of powder over the four dishes. The measuring spoon is included in the box of powder. I mix it in and set the four dishes down on the chicken’s patio.

Worming the girls

They all get a share

If the bottom girl isn’t getting any I will put her on top of the nest box with her own dish and guard her until she gets a share. At the moment Cinnamon and Apricot are the bottom girls but they were easily getting their share so this wasn’t needed. It’s testament to how well the flock are getting on together that I am not needing to help any of the girls to get a share.

I put only a small amount of mash in each dish so that it is all consumed quickly and I know that that they have all had some powder. My girls are so small that only a small amount of powder is easily enough.

In the past I have done this with fish but for the last few years Emerald hasn’t been interested in fish so I changed to mash which is equally liked by all the girls. I have also used sunflower hearts in a little olive oil and then powder added and chopped grapes with powder added. Over time though I have found that the mash works best as it’s not messy and is quickly and equally consumed.

The flubenvet has to be given for seven consecutive days so this will be our morning routine for a week. If the girls have any worms they will show up in the poop on the second day. Hopefully there will be none and this is just a preventative measure. I think the girls will enjoy having mash for a week.

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A second bite of the cherry

The  box of living leaves which I bought for the girls at the bargain price of sixty pence had regrown about as much I thought they were going to. It was time to give them to the girls for a second go.

Emerald is first to the box of greens

Rusty and Freckles join her

Apricot joins them

The leaves are disappearing

Soon there are just stalks left

I think we have definitely had our money’s worth out of these. They were actually quite tough so when the girls were finished with them I added them to the compost bin.

It was funny how once again Emerald and Speckles went straight to them but the little girls were wary at first. Rusty and Speckles are always the boldest of the little girls and then Apricot. Dandelion and Cinnamon didn’t show much interest.

Speckles was still playing her role of mother hen and was plucking little bits from the leaves and dropping them in front of the little girls. I think we have done justice to this box of leaves.

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Worms for the girls

When it has been raining and there are a few wet patches in the run I dig for worms for the girls. As soon as the girls see the fork they follow me with great excitement. I have to be super careful with the fork as they have no fear of it.

Cinnamon gets the lion’s share of the worms because she is so quick. If I dig for potatoes in the veg plot I also give the girls any worms I find. Rusty gave Cinnamon a real pecking to her back after she manged to get most of the worms the other day. I could feel Rusty’s anger but even when I directed a worm towards her Cinnamon would nip in and snatch it and run with it.

While digging in the run today it was Cinnamon and Dandelion who got most of the worms. Cinnamon would go racing round the run with a worm while Dandelion chased her and tried to get it off of her. I wanted to take some photos but they were just way too speedy.

At one point Cinnamon and Dandelion had a tug of war with a worm and they managed to get half each.

Dandelion and Cinnamon have half a worm each

Dandelion’s half of the worm is on the ground just beneath her beak. In the background Cinnamon is pecking at her half of the worm.

Cinnamon gets the next worm

By the time I caught her up to take a photo the worm had nearly all disappeared.

Cinnamon got most of the worms as usual and this time Dandelion had a real go at her. These two used to be best friends and while integrating them, Dandelion used to cry, if she lost sight of Cinnamon. You wouldn’t imagine it now if you could see how brutal her attack was on Cinnamon when she got the last worm. She pulled at her feathers and pulled Cinnamon over. Cinnamon was left shaking her head afterwards.

I wondered if maybe digging for worms wasn’t such a good idea if it was going to cause such anger. In contrast, when they couldn’t pull a big worm from the ground, Speckles pulled it out and offered it to the little girls. The contrast of behaviour between former friends and surrogate mother was startling.

I always used to think that digging for worms was such fun but I am learning how aggressive seramas can be to each other in the heat of the moment. Who would have thought such cute little girls could behave like this!

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