Marmite lays another tiny egg

Marmite has laid a total of nineteen eggs since she started laying at the end  of December. Her first two eggs were really tiny and then her next one was normal sized. The day before yesterday Ebony, Spangle and Marmite all laid. The three girls were in the three nest boxes at the same time and all laid at about the same time.

While Smoke is taking a break, since going broody, these three girls are the only ones laying regularly at the moment.

Yesterday the run was quite dark due to the snow on the roof of the run and it continued to snow lightly on and off all day.

Dandelion and Cinnamon spent most of the day in the large wooden shelter. The rest of the flock hung around just beyond the patio area. It was the most inactive I have ever seen the flock.

Late afternoon Marmite was in her favourite middle nest box. She was the only girl to go to the nest box all day. I checked a little later just as she came out and her warm egg was in the nest box. The odd thing was that it was another tiny egg. Not as tiny as her first two eggs but not much bigger either.

I know that it was Marmite’s egg as she was the only girl to go in the nest box otherwise I would have put it down to another girls’ first egg.

Marmite lays another tiny egg

On the right is Ebony’s egg from the day before yesterday. To the left of that is Spangle’s egg and then left of that Marmite’s egg from the day before yesterday. On the left is Marmite’s egg from yesterday.

Marmite’s egg next to a pound coin for size comparison

Marmite’s first two eggs were tiny enough to sit on the pound coin so this is about double that size but still very small. It is interesting. I am guessing that her next egg will probably be normal size once more but we will see!

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End of January egg count

I decided to do an end of month egg count while I am still able to see which girls are laying which eggs.

Ebony laid 17 eggs in January.

Smoke laid 17 eggs in January.

Marmite laid 16 eggs in January.

Spangle laid 14 eggs in January.

Jasmine laid 2 eggs in January.

Salmon laid 1 egg in January.

This gives us a total of 67 eggs for January which is amazing.

Ebony has slowed down a bit in the winter months compared to the summer but is still laying well. Smoke is a really good layer because not only did she equal Ebony in January but she hasn’t laid during the last week since she went broody. This means her 17 eggs were in fact laid in three weeks. Her eggs are also the biggest serama eggs so far.

Jasmine and Salmon haven’t got properly started yet so they can’t really be counted at the moment.

Sienna and Vanilla are yet to start and haven’t yet shown any interest in the nest boxes.

I wonder how many eggs we will be getting in summer when all the girls are laying! As well as Sienna and Vanilla we will be able to add Flame, Dandelion and Cinnamon.

We will have loads of eggs!

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More snow

When we went to bed last night it was snowing.

Snowing last night

Bobbly snow on the vehicles

The garden this morning

Lots of snow

We have had quite a lot of snow. It is a bit milder this morning though. Saturday is forecast cold again at four degrees during the day and minus four overnight again. I think after that it is looking a bit more normal.

Compared to some parts of the country we have got off lightly but even so we have had enough of this now.

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It’s very cold

This morning when I refilled the chicken’s waters it was still minus four degrees. There was the hardest frost that I can remember seeing.

This morning’s frost

Minus four degrees

It is such a hard frost that it looks like snow. It looks beautiful but the path is lethal and I walked on the edge of the crisp planting for safety.

I will certainly be glad when this cold spell comes to an end.

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An update

The weather here has been very cold with night time temperatures of minus two to four which means the chickens’ water freezes.

I seem to learn the hard way every year. If there is only a little ice on top of the water a jug of hot water poured on top is enough to defrost it. If it is frozen solid, as it has been the last few mornings, I have to bring the waters in and run them under the hot tap to remove the block of ice from the china dish and to be able to separate the top from the bottom of the metal water container as it freezes together.

I then fill my plastic watering can, take that up and refill the water dishes. What a palaver! It is always at this stage that I wonder why I am making it so hard on myself. So tonight I have emptied both water containers and separated the metal one so it can’t freeze together and bought my emptied watering can down to the back door.

In the morning I will fill the watering can and take it up to fill both water containers. Easy! No defrosting. I always remember this after doing it the hard way first.

In other news Smoke got over her broodiness very quickly. On Friday she laid her last egg after behaving half broody for four days. On Saturday I posted the photo of her making herself as big as possible. That evening I had to lift her from the nest box and put her on the perch in the chicken shed.

To my surprise on Sunday morning she was out in the run. She didn’t go in the nest box all day and at dusk settled in the chicken shed. Just like that she had snapped out of it! I would be happy if it was that easy every time.

And since I blocked off the store cabinet Spangle has laid her eggs in the nest box nearest the chicken shed every time so another problem solved. I will leave it blocked for a while until I am sure she has forgotten all about it.

We are continuing to get plenty of eggs and the girls seem to be handling the cold okay for now. Dandelion and Cinnamon spend time in the shelters when it’s cold but the rest of the girls don’t seem bothered by the cold which is really good to see.

The silky girls and the amigos remain active during the cold so I am pleased that the girls from my  latest breeder seem to be more robust. She did say that she continues to breed during the winter so we wondered if that makes them hardier. I have no idea if that is the case but if it is that bodes well for the future.

We have been a bit busy this week with an appointment to the accountant, a dentist check up for me, an M.O.T. for one of the vans and catering a funeral for tomorrow, so I haven’t managed to take any photos of the girls. I always think a post with no photos at all is rather dull so on the way back from locking the girls up tonight I stopped to take a photo of one of our snowdrop patches.

Snowdrops at dusk

These were completely buried under our recent snow but seem none the worse for that.

We have been watching the forecast as we were due more snow which was a worry with the funeral tomorrow but the forecast is now saying sleet and rain so I think we are going to be okay.

I know we mustn’t wish our lives away but roll on spring/summer and better weather. Like the chickens I prefer warmth and sun.

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Relationships and Pecking order

Recently there has been the usual surge of hormones that comes with the start of egg laying and it always causes spats to take place.

Dandelion picks her battles carefully but Cinnamon does not. Cinnamon was over confident and rushed around picking fights with all the amigos. They cottoned on to her game and started retaliating two at a time. Two amigos would fight back together and corner Cinnamon until she had to back down.

This has really knocked her confidence and she has since taken to hanging back away from the flock. It has been really hard to see our confident little girl suddenly become nervous and hanging back from the treats.

If only she hadn’t kept pushing her luck I feel sure she would have maintained her joint top serama position. Now with her obvious loss of confidence all of the amigos have taken to chasing her away.

Dandelion on the other hand picked just a few fights and therefore came off better. She has maintained her top serama position.

A few days ago Dandelion had a spat with Smoke who is top amigo. The pair of them were really going for it when Ebony spotted them. Ebony ran over and broke it up once again. She had three attempts before she separated them and then grabbed Smoke by the wing as if admonishing her. When it was all over Ebony returned to scratching in the soil as if nothing had ever happened.

Dandelion kept her top position. It’s a pity Ebony hadn’t been around when Cinnamon was picking fights all over the place.

One thing that is certain though is that Dandelion and Cinnamon remain firm friends. They dust bath together and sit together whether in the sun or the shelter. I have also noticed that Cinnamon sticks close to Speckles when in the run. She knows that Speckles will always protect her and will chase away the amigos.

There are strong relationships within the flock. The three bigger girls along with Dandelion and Cinnamon will often be grouped together almost like a flock within the flock. The two silky girls are also always together. The amigos are sometimes together and sometimes spread out but there are definitely three groups within the flock.

Cinnamon and Dandelion sitting in the sun

Dandelion and Cinnamon in the large shelter

I wonder if once Cinnamon starts laying again she will regain her confidence and her status. One thing that seems certain in the chicken world is that pecking order may change but friendships borne out of being together over time become lasting friendships. The girls that have been together longest or have come in together have strong bonds.

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Look how big I am!

When I lift Smoke out of the nest box she will stay in position on the patio for a while so I am now putting her straight into the run. When I do this she holds up her wings and tail and makes herself look as big as possible.

Broody Smoke

She does look hilarious! Unfortunately she does attract pecks from Dandelion and the silky girls. On the other hand though she chases away the rest of the amigos. I think it’s those angry, broody, hormones.

I am pleased to see that when I have taken her out she has plenty of water, some spinach and some pellets. It’s good to see her eating and drinking while out of the nest box.

I am guessing we are in for three weeks of this. I am used to having shut broody girls out of the nest box in the past but that’s no longer possible. Oh well, what will be, will be!

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Smoke is definitely broody

I now have no doubt that Smoke is broody.

Smoke didn’t lay yesterday so she went into her favourite middle nest box first thing this morning as I expected. She was making the, chuff chuff, broody sound as she went in. An hour later she was still in there. I decided to leave her for two hours and then lift her out. Spangle was also in and out of this nest box causing Smoke to shout at her.

After two hours I lifted Smoke out and there were two eggs. Her own bigger, round, egg and Spangle’s narrower, darker, egg.

I put Smoke on the patio and she sat with her tail raised up. She made no attempt to move when suddenly the two silky girls attacked her. They pecked her and pulled at her with their beaks which sent her running. This wasn’t nice to see and I haven’t seen a broody girl get this treatment before.

Smoke did a big broody poop then perched in the sun and preened alongside the silky girls surprisingly enough. After half an hour she returned to the nest box.

I lifted her out again and put her in the run this time. Once again she just sat in the same position until Sienna and Dandelion lightly pecked at her and sent her on her way. Fifteen minutes later she was back in the nest box.

I decided to leave her be as it’s going to be impossible for me to break the broody girls with nine seramas in the flock. I can’t close the nest boxes in case other girls need to lay. This year I am just going to have to let it take it’s course.

Smoke in the nest box with her tail raised up

Smoke on the patio with her tail in a v shape

Smoke and Spangle’s eggs

I can’t believe I have the first broody before they have even all started laying. Smoke is the best layer too. She has laid thirty three eggs so far since she started in December.

In the summer I will try to dissuade Ebony and Flame from going broody as last summer it only took the removal of their eggs to do this. Speckles has never gone broody. The seramas I will just leave to their own devises apart from lifting them out peiodically to take a break. There  should be enough girls laying not to matter if some of them take a break.

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The first, four egg day, of the year

Yesterday we had our first, four egg day, of this year. Up until then we had been getting two or three eggs a day most days. Jasmine has only laid one egg so far and that was six days ago so she hasn’t properly got started yet. This means that four eggs is a full house at the moment.

At the moment I can still tell the eggs apart but I am aware that may not last much longer. Ebony’s are obviously easy as they are the only large size eggs.

Smoke’s are easy as they are the largest and roundest of the little girls’ eggs plus she sits in the nest box for the longest and so is easy to spot when laying. Spangle’s are distinct as they are beige and narrow. Marmite’s are in between these two sizes and pale.

Side by side the difference in the width of the eggs doesn’t show up in a photo but it does show up in the egg stand because Spangle’s narrow egg drops through the hole.

Egg stand – four egg day

From left to right is Smoke’s egg, Spangle’s egg, Marmite’s egg and then Ebony’s egg. As I had seen all four girls in the nest box and had four eggs that day it was certain whose the eggs were even without me identifying them.

Since I have blocked the top of the store cabinet Spangle has been laying her egg in the nest box which is good.

I have decided to do an extra egg count at the end of January as I think that beyond that it will get really difficult to tell the eggs apart. By my end of year egg count I doubt I will know which girl laid which egg.

It is good fun still being able to name the eggs so far and it has been great seeing more girls start laying. Vanilla and Sienna both look ready to start soon as they have lovely red combs. I love having plenty of eggs and in the summer we should have loads.

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I wonder if Smoke is going broody

For the last three days I have thought that Smoke might be going broody and yet for the last three days she has laid an egg.

I would notice that she had been in the nest box for a long time. At first all morning and then as her egg got later it would be all afternoon.

When I checked on Smoke she behaved like a broody. She puffed herself up, raised her tail, made an angry sound and went to peck me when I lifted her from the nest box.

When I lifted her each time there was her egg. Her eggs are distinct as they are larger and rounder than any of the other little girls’ eggs.  I sat her on the patio and she sat for a while like a broody girl does. After that though she went to the food dish and then out into the run as usual and didn’t return to the nest box.

Smoke with an angry gleam in her eye

Smoke in a broody pose

Smoke with her somewhat ragged tail feathers raised up

It’s as if she is almost broody but not quite. It is most odd. I will update as she goes on.

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