Christmas day in the chicken run

It has become our tradition that the girls have a fish treat on Christmas morning.

Smoke had laid nine eggs and then went broody so I lifted her from the nest box to the patio area before putting the fish dishes down.

Christmas day fish treat for the girls
They enjoy their fish treat
Broody Smoke needs some water

Soon all the fish was gone. I think they enjoyed their Christmas treat.

Merry Christmas all and enjoy your day.

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The first of our three Christmas dinners

We have three Christmas dinners. One with my side of the family, one with my husband’s side of the family and Christmas Day itself is just the two of us.

This year we had my side on Saturday and will have my husband’s side on Friday. There were my youngest son and daughter in law and my eldest son, daughter in law and delightful two and a half year old grandson with a second grandson due in April.

We had a really lovely time. We did the full on turkey dinner and have saved a few slices of turkey for our Christmas dinner so we don’t need to cook it again and have too much left over. We have parsnips and sprouts from the allotment for our Christmas dinner.

There was lots to eat and drink and then exchanging gifts after dinner. The eldest son’s family stayed over and left after lunch the next day. My little grandson didn’t want to go home and in truth I didn’t want him to go home either.

Our table ready for the first of the family Christmas dinners
With champagne flutes for arrival drinks

We had such a lovely time. We will have Christmas Day with just the two of us but with phone calls from all the family. For the third Christmas dinner my husband’s family have chosen roast beef.

Phew! Three turkey dinners would have been a stretch too far and we are looking forward to having a different third dinner.

It stretches our Christmas out and will soon run into the New Year celebrations.

I would therefor like to take this moment to wish all my readers, their families and their chooks a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Christmas hyacinth

We were given a gift of a Christmas hyacinth by one of our party guests.

Our gift of a Christmas hyacinth
The hyacinth a week later
And another week later

In three weeks the hyacinth has transformed. We have been amazed at how quickly it has opened. It is quite lovely.

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Christmas tree

We put our Christmas tree up yesterday. I decorated the tree and put the rest of the Christmas decorations up so now feel our house is already for Christmas.

We have a Christmas tree

The tree is decorated

Close up

The tree during the day

I am really pleased with this tree as we managed to find a narrow one that fit’s the space perfectly. Some years it has hung over the arm of the chair and in front of the television. I like the shape of it too and the fact that the lower branches completely hide the stand.

We are now ready for Christmas.

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How the flock is doing

I thought it was time to do an update on the flock. They are all fine. Salmon still has a slight wheeze but it’s not as bad as it has been in the past. I would dearly love for her to stop wheezing altogether but she looks well so I just hope that one day it will completely disappear.

Speckles had a sort of shallow breathing for a while where we could see her feathers going up and down with her breaths. We assumed that this was due to her old age. We then noticed that after I had treated the girls with a course of tylan her breathing has returned to normal. We now wonder if due to her age she was having a slight respiratory problem due to the myco and the tylan has now cleared it.

Speckles is looking good although you can see her age in her eyes. She is also much slower to go to the treats but she seems fine.

Ebony is moulting again. Feathers are drifting from her and are under her roost spot in the mornings. She has lost her confidence with the moult which is something we have noticed often happens. Ebony was always first to the treats but now shows no interest although she did get a few worms when I dug the run over today. She slowly mooches about and has a sort of tilted down stance.

Smoke has laid six eggs in nine days and will probably go broody again before long. It is good to be getting a few eggs. All the other girls are the same as they usually are.



Ebony with slightly downward stance



Marmite still has pins on her head


They are such a lovely flock and I hope we can get them all safely through the winter as it’s been a tough year for loses. Fingers crossed that we can keep the flock this size for a good while.

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Smoke is laying again

Ebony laid her last egg on the last day of November which I thought was quite amazing. I thought that was the end of eggs for this year and resorted to buying shop eggs.

To my surprise Smoke started laying again. It was two weeks after she had stopped being broody and she has now laid two eggs in the last three days. I have just looked back at last year and Smoke laid throughout December.

Shop bought eggs on the right and Smoke’s eggs on the left

Well done Smoke. In other news Salmon is much improved with only the occasional hint of a wheeze now. Anyone less tuned in to the girls wouldn’t notice it at all. I am pleased to say that all the girls look great.

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Another competition

John Gray of the blog “Going Gently” has put out another competition. The last one I took part in was the postcard competition. This time he has a Christmas card competition. It started at the end of November and will be judged on Christmas Eve.

He is looking for the most original and says the more bizarre and different the better. The winner will be picked on Christmas Eve and the prize will be a robust donation to a charity in the winner’s name.

John works in a hospice and and his only day off over the Christmas period is Christmas Eve so he wants to make it fun.

The card I have adapted was a card that I saw when looking for a birthday card recently. John loves his dogs so this card appealed to me and I thought that I could adapt it to change it into a Christmas card. I am not going for bizarre but rather for the dog theme that fits in with John’s love of dogs.

Sadly John lost his elderly black scottie dog and elderly welsh terrier during the last year but has recently adopted a young bulldog that was in need of a home. He has a youngish welsh terrier and an elderly bulldog too plus a black cat.

For this reason I decided to stick a black scottie dog on the inside of the card which I  already had in my Christmas tin of cards and labels.

Inside the card

The outside of the card before I adapted it

The card is now a Christmas card

I have to say I am actually quite pleased with this. I realised that we don’t have any felt pens or anything suitable to colour with so I used some red and green paper that was part of a leaflet that came through the door and my white printing paper for the trim and bobble on the hat. I only had one chance at the hat as that was the biggest bit of red paper on the leaflet.

I don’t care about winning I just wanted to take part and I thought that John would appreciate a dog themed card. I posted my card this morning and I am feeling pleased that I made the effort.

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Christmas party on Sunday

I am a bit late with this post as yesterday we had a problem and our e-mail went down for the day and I couldn’t log into my blog either. My eldest son who is my I.T. guy managed to get it fixed last night but my last couple of blog posts have disappeared.

Before I start my party post I will just say for anyone who missed the last couple of posts that they were about the improvement in Salmon after another course of tylan. Her wheeze has gradually improved and is now barely noticeable at all and she seems really well so I am now much more hopeful that she will be okay.

Sunday was earlier than usual for our Christmas party but it was the date that the most people could make and we agreed to have it in the afternoon starting between twelve and half twelve.

We have a Christmas get together every year for our group of up to twenty friends some of which we don’t have the chance to see often as they live a distance away. Usually we have a meal in a pub but often we find it expensive for not very good food and it is difficult to get round and talk to everyone and we always seem to be the last ones waiting in the car park for a taxi.

A couple of times in the past we have done the catering, as it is what we do, and another couple have hosted the party at their house as they have more space than us. However this year we offered to cater it and host it at our house. Our house has plenty of rooms but the rooms are small so we knew it would be cosy but we felt it was possible.

Another couple organised the drinks and we added up the food costs and the drink costs and divided the costs equally between each of the couples. It worked out at less than half the cost of going out and we had the advantage of not needing a taxi.

We ended up with eighteen of us and we wanted to seat everyone for a cold fork buffet. We knew we could squeeze eight around our dining table as we have done so for family Christmas dinners. We borrowed a fold up table which was similar in size from my eldest son to go in the sitting room which also seated eight. This left another two so we put our small patio table and two garden chairs in a corner of the dining room.

We had enough seats with the addition of two stools we have and spare chairs we have in the loft. We knew it would be cosy but decided that it would also be fun.

We have the advantage of having our work kitchen a few steps from our back door so we set up the food and drinks out there to save space indoors. We also set up a tea and coffee making corner using one of the small water boilers that we use for our afternoon teas. We also have the advantage of having plenty of crockery and cutlery and glass ware because of our catering business and we used our vintage crockery for main and side plates.

Our dining table for eight

A garden table for two in a corner of the dining room

An extra table for two fits in a corner

Another table for eight in the sitting room

There are no glasses on the table as we put them outside with the food and drinks so that everyone could take a glass of whatever they wanted on arrival and bring it to the table when we were ready to eat.

We chatted for about an hour with our drinks before everyone helped themselves to food. We moved around between courses so that we could chat to everyone. After we had eaten we removed the table from the sitting room and the patio table so that there was more room to sit more casually and carry on chatting.

It was a great success and everyone had a great time us included. Some of our guests bought us gifts of wine, chocolate or plants/flowers for hosting and preparing the food so I have photographed the plants/flowers as they add a touch of Christmas to the house.

A lovely bouquet of flowers

A Christmas hyacinth

A poinsettia

We have since had e-mails from everyone thanking us and saying how much everyone enjoyed it. We did have a moment before guests arrived when we suddenly realised that the responsibility was on us whether it went well rather than us just rocking up to a pub and feeling free to complain a bit when the food was pretty rubbish.

We needn’t have worried and everyone said the food was top notch and that it was really good of us to host it and prepare the food and wash up afterwards. We think we may be doing this again in future years.

On our part we are grateful that our guests are willing to travel some distance and to organise taxis home whereas we are able to stay at home so it worked out well for all of us. We gave our guests some food to take home and we had left overs for dinner the next day saving us having to cook so everyone was happy. It was a great success and a really fun day.

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Frost and dust baths and tylan

This morning there was a hard frost and a thin layer of ice on the chickens water.

The garden this morning

Very frosty

The cabin roof is white behind the frozen rose

Salmon and Spangle have formed a close friendship recently. I think that friendships form more within a smaller flock. These two are always together recently and at bedtime they are always side by side in the corner of the chicken shed next to the bigger girls.

Salmon and Spangle dust bathing together

Speckles watches over them

Speckles and her girls

Speckles has taken on the role of mother hen to the little girls and more especially these two since the other two have been broody. I used to read some opinions that it could be difficult to mix different sized birds together but that has not been my experience.

I thought that Ebony and Flame would be company for Speckles after we lost Emerald but Speckles actually prefers to hang out with the little girls. Very often Ebony and Flame will be perched together above the ladder and Speckles will be at the centre of the little girls. Speckles seems to relish her mother hen status with these little girls.

Today I started with tylan in the water and mash made with tylan water again. I will do this for five days to see if it has any effect on Salmon. As you can see above she is still happily dust bathing but she still sounds terrible with her wheezing.

While she looks happy and active she sounds like Darth Vader. When I see her looking so lovely and so well it makes it so hard to think that we may lose her this winter because she still sounds so terrible. I would love to have her stop wheezing but sadly I doubt that is going to happen and I know that she has a very uncertain future.

At the same time I don’t want to give up on her and although I doubt this five days of tylan will make any difference I feel I have nothing to lose by giving it a go. At the moment I feel that I must keep trying to keep her well. We have lost so many little girls this year that I really dread the thought of losing another one.  I know we will all be willing Salmon on.

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A yogurt treat

Today I gave the girls some yogurt as a treat. Marmite and Smoke are still broody so I lifted them out of the nest boxes and put them on the patio before bringing the yogurt dishes in and putting them on the patio too. It’s a great way of getting some photos of all the girls together.

The girls have some yogurt

They love yogurt

Since Marmite and Smoke have been broody I have noticed that Salmon and Spangle hang out together and Marmite and Smoke stay together when I lift them out of the nest boxes. You can see this in the photo above.

They splash the yogurt around

I am keeping an eye on Salmon’s crop to make sure she is eating properly and as you can see in the photo above she has a full crop, a curved lopsided bulge, on her right side.

Salmon has some days of sounding worse and some days of sounding slightly better. She is still lively and always runs to the treats.

I am thinking of giving another five days ( only ) of tylan to see if this time it would clear the wheezing. I feel that there is nothing to lose. Marmite and Smoke won’t get much as they are broody but that doesn’t matter as they are the healthiest two seramas.

It would be so good if Salmon could get clear of the wheezing before winter really sets in. I think that it’s worth a try.

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