Marmite’s eggs

Marmite has been having an egg laying problem. It isn’t actually about the laying so much it’s about the shell forming.

After her soft shelled eggs and then the really weird shaped one she has improved but the egg shells are still a little odd.

Marmite lays, on average, every three days and she sometimes has the humped shape before she lays and doesn’t look happy although she isn’t looking as miserable as when she was laying soft shelled eggs.

Her last two eggs have had firm shells but are just slightly misshaped. They have a band around them rather than a smooth oval shape.

Marmite’s last two eggs

It’s difficult to show in a photo but there are slight bands/ridges running around the middle of the eggs.

Marmite has also been doing watery poops on the patio area just before laying. There is obviously something not quite right with her.

The good news is that Marmite is eating well and looks fine in between laying. She has been dust bathing and sun bathing when it was sunny. She is lively and quick to the treats. I am not too worried about her at the moment.

I hope that her eggs will continue to improve and she will stay well. I keep hoping that this will pass. Only time will tell.

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Growing veg

This year, more than ever, growing our own veg is really important. The three of us sharing an allotment plot, each had a veg plant box, before the lock-down and have since decided that there are enough plants to put some in our own garden plots and some in the allotment plot.

Added to that we had harvested beans from last year’s bean plants and have planted them in starter pots. We also have seeds from mail order to plant straight into the ground.

We had given up growing broccoli in our garden because we were put off by the amount of caterpillars that would be on them. At the allotment, last year, we netted them to keep the butterflies off of them therefore keeping them free of caterpillars.

This year my husband has built a frame from bits of wood and netting left over from the allotment so that we can grow them in the garden again.

Broccoli frame
Frame open
Inside the frame

This gave my husband another project to occupy him and the hinges and handle were in the shed in his “may come in handy one day” collection so this cost nothing.

I couldn’t resist a photo of the germinating beans as I love the way the potting soil rises like a cake in the oven as the bean sprout pushes it’s way through.

Beans at different stages of growth

We will be giving any spare plants to our neighbours too. Hopefully this will be a productive year for both the garden and the allotment plot.

I wrote the post above yesterday and today a runner bean has pushed through causing me to realise that the photo above is actually a sunflower.

Sunflower on the left and runner bean on the right

I thought I had better show the correction, for the knowledgeable among you, who would have picked up on my mistake. We had forgotten that there were a few sunflower seeds in the mix of collected seeds.

I am amazed how quickly this runner bean has come through and opened it’s first leaves. I am sure there will be many more over the coming days.

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Marmite’s egg laying

Marmite has definitely been having an egg laying problem. It is odd because last year she laid with no problem at all and you can’t help wondering what changes to cause these little girls to develop an egg laying problem.

I am hopeful that Marmite may be okay again now. The problem seemed to be with forming a shell properly and I have seen Marmite going to the grit and eggshell hopper so it’s not because she isn’t taking it but it just doesn’t seem to be forming properly on the shell.

Marmite has been laying an egg, on average, every three days. She alternates between looking poorly and laying a soft shell or weird shell and in between laying a good shell.

The egg before last had another odd looking shell but wasn’t soft so I felt that her shells were improving. It was a strange greyish colour on the top and had some calcium pimples on top.

Three days later she went into the nest box without looking poorly before she went in and went on to lay a good shelled egg. It will be interesting to see if this now continues. I really hope so.

Marmite’s strange looking egg shell
It was also a slightly odd shape
Three days later Marmite is in the nest box
Marmite lays a normal shelled egg

It would be great if this was just a blip and Marmite is now back to normal. Only time will tell.

In other news Flame started laying again exactly two weeks after she started her broody spell and then yesterday Smoke laid also exactly two weeks after she started her broody spell.

Breaking them out of being broody as quickly as possible gets them back to laying sooner and at the moment having our two best layers back on track is a real bonus.

Our girls eggs are giving us enough eggs to keep us going and we really appreciate the supply of our lovely eggs.

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Our chimney is looking magnificent

A lovely splash of colour

The chimney makes smile. The April sunshine is beautiful. I can’t remember more lovely April weather than this.

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Speckles has been very vocal recently. In fact she has had spells of really shouting. I then remembered her doing this last summer before laying her six eggs.

Speckles has halved her number of eggs every year so if she follows her pattern she could lay three this year.

Along with the shouting Speckles has also had a brief sit in the nest box near the gate which is Ebony’s favourite nest box. Speckles only spends a few minutes sitting and it is as if she is reminding herself that this is where she needs to go if she does need to lay.

At one point when she was in the nest box I got my camera as I felt that I needed proof that she really was sitting in the nest box. The next day Speckles sat in the same nest box again but this time Ebony joined her as she needed to lay her egg.

I got my camera again as I thought they looked so sweet together. As soon as I had taken the photo Speckles left the nest box and Ebony went on to lay her egg. So far Speckles has only spent a few minutes in the nest box each time.

Speckles in the nest box

Speckles and Ebony share a nest box

They look so sweet. Not so sweet when they are shouting though. Egg laying does cause a lot of noisy girls. I don’t think Speckles is quite ready to lay yet but she is definitely thinking about it.

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Headless chicken

A few days ago Spangle was snoozing with her head under her wing. She looked so cute.

Spangle in headless chicken mode
Spangle has finished her nap and is looking good

I think having more time with the girls has made Salmon and Spangle even more friendly. They are always wherever I am. If I lift a nest box to check whats going on they are there checking too.

Lately they have both looked like they want to jump on me. They do the sort of rocking motion that chickens do when they are trying to pluck up the courage to jump.

A few days ago I was checking a nest box when to my surprise Salmon jumped on my back. Salmon felt so little and light compared to Speckles who I am used to having jump on me. It was a really sweet moment and Salmon was in no hurry to dismount. Eventually I ducked low to the patio so that she could jump down.

The next day I was crouched down watching Spangle who was in and out of the nest box by the gate when she jumped to my knees. I would say lap but it was really more my knee.

I went for my camera and assumed the same position to see if Spangle would do this again. Sure enough she jumped to my knee again.

Spangle on my knee

This was so sweet. I am really enjoying having these little girls interacting with me. It is so lovely to have a little girl on my back or my knee. What sweeties they are.

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Cat jigsaw

I bought two jigsaws from a charity shop before the lock-down. The doll’s house jigsaw that we recently completed and a cat jigsaw.

In the meantime some friends that we met at a classic car show last year have kept in touch by e-mail and we have been exchanging photos. They do jigsaws too and said they would leave some on our drive. We left our classic car jigsaw on our drive for them to take in exchange.

We were surprised to see that they left us four jigsaws. They are all really busy scenes with loads of detail so should be fun to do. I thought that we should do the cat jigsaw first though as I could see that was going to be a tricky one.

It was probably the hardest jigsaw that I have ever done. My husband found it too difficult and joined in only now and again. He did sort out all the eyes on to a tray but soon got fed up of all the eyes staring up at him.

After completing the outside edge and a few of the easier, bigger, parts I actually felt like giving up as I just didn’t seem able to get anywhere with it. I absolutely hate to give up on anything though so I got to the point where I thought that having completed a bit more I just couldn’t let it beat me.

It was painstaking and I would find just a few pieces at a time. When it got almost to the end my husband joined in again and we finished it together. Hurrah!

The cat jigsaw is started
It is coming along
Making progress
Almost there
Cat jigsaw completed

There was one bit missing, on the yellow cat, half way down on the right hand side.

We are so pleased that this jigsaw is finished, apart from the one missing bit, and we can now start a more enjoyable one.

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Rejuvenating the patio furniture

We have had our main patio set for many years. We had it before moving here and it was inexpensive when we bought it so it has done very well.

After my husband’s excellent job on sanding and varnishing the wood on our classic car he decided to do the same thing to our patio furniture.

First he sanded the chairs and varnished them with several coats and then he sanded and varnished the table. The furniture looks as good as new again and should last many more years.

Chairs with one before sanding and one after sanding
Chair after varnishing
The patio set after sanding and varnishing

Another good job done.

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Something very weird is going on with Marmite’s eggs

A couple of days before Marmite started laying again, after her broody spell, I found a soft shelled egg in the chicken shed one morning.

At the time I put it down to Spangle even though she had never laid a soft shelled egg before. The reason I thought it must be Spangle’s egg was that Smoke and Salmon laid later that day and I thought that Marmite wasn’t yet laying.

After this Marmite looked poorly before laying an egg a few days later. The egg was fine and Marmite seemed to be dropping feathers in a partial moult so I put it down to that.

Marmite then laid three, normal shelled, eggs without a problem before looking really poorly again. This time Marmite looked poorly for a day and a half before she settled in a nest box. She bounced back after laying but I got a shock when I saw what she had laid.

Marmite looking poorly again
Marmite laid the most weird thing I have ever seen laid
It was soft and had no yolk inside

It was at this point that I realised the soft shelled egg in the chicken shed a few days before Marmite’s good egg must have been Marmite’s first egg after her broody spell. I have never seen anything like this before though.

If you look at the first photo it seems to have calcium blobs on the outside but it’s as if the calcium hasn’t formed in the correct way. It is also shaped as if it is half an egg. Even when the girls’ first eggs were really tiny they were round and had yolk in but this one had just white.

Five days later both Marmite and Smoke were in the nest box together. This was just as Smoke was going broody as she always lays one last egg at the start of being broody. This was the first time Marmite was in the nest box since the weird egg.

When I checked the nest box while Smoke was still in it there were two soft shelled eggs.

Two soft shelled eggs in the nest box

The egg on the right must be Smoke’s egg as it is the white colour of her eggs and it has a yolk. The egg on the left must be Marmite’s egg as it is darker in colour, it as a few blood spots on it and it has no yolk.

This was the last egg Smoke laid before being committed to being broody again. Smoke has never laid a soft shelled egg before but this time round she had laid six eggs in a row then missed a day then laid three in a row the last one being this one. I wonder if she has been laying too many eggs in quick succession. Six days in a row is a lot even for Smoke.

Marmite must have an egg laying problem and yet has always laid okay in the past. The next day Marmite went on to lay a normal egg but it did have some little blood streaks on the shell. We have now eaten it for breakfast and it was a normal egg with yolk.

I hope this is just a glitch with Marmite. It is all very odd. Their diet has remained the same and Salmon, who in the past has been prone to laying the odd soft shelled egg, has been laying good shelled eggs and laying more frequently.

We have never had two soft shelled eggs together before. I hope that things return to normal now. At least Smoke will now take a break from egg laying so hopefully that will help her get back to normal.

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Smoke is broody again

Smoke has laid ten eggs in two weeks and has now gone broody again. That means both our best layers are broody together. Smoke is a serial broody and last summer she also laid for two weeks at a time and then went broody.

I lifted Smoke from the nest box and she stayed put
The two broody girls share a nest box
One nest box and four girls

While I was looking in on the two broody girls Spangle and Salmon decided they must look in too.

I may have another go at breaking them out of this as it will greatly reduce our number of eggs having both our best layers broody together. Sigh!

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