Flame is looking a bit tatty

For about a week I was finding Flame’s feathers in the chicken shed each morning but she didn’t actually look very different from usual. Now I have stopped finding feathers and she suddenly looks quite tatty.

Flame doesn’t look bad on her back
But Flame is looking tatty on her front
Flame has loose feathers and missing feathers

It won’t be long before she is back to normal as she has lots of pins.

Smoke was only broody for a week before she gave up. I think the colder weather made her give up quite quickly. I then started finding Smoke’s feathers in the chicken shed each morning. It only lasted a couple of days and she doesn’t look any different to usual.

I think we may have had a break through with the bedtime routine. The three bigger girls go in at dusk but the little girls have been getting shut out when the automatic door closes. They then call out for me to go and put them in.

Yesterday my lovely husband had a hospital appointment for his eyes in the afternoon and as I drive him home we knew we wouldn’t be back until after dark. We decided that I would prop the main door of the chicken shed open enough for the girls to go in and hope that they would get themselves in.

To my surprise when we got back and I checked on the girls they were all in. Result! I simply had to close the door. I am now going to leave the main door open a bit each night and won’t go and check on them until after dark.

We are hoping that this will retrain them to go in by themselves. Once they have been going in for about a week I will try leaving the door closed and see if they still manage to get in. I hope this will break the habit of them relying on me to put them in.

It also means I only have to close the door instead of getting them all perched and removing Sugar from my head several times! Time will tell if this works and I will report back at a later date with the results.

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Shadow and Sugar are about six months old

Shadow and Sugar were about three months old when we got them at the end of the first week in September so they are about six months old now.

They now have their in between voices. They are no longer cheeping but haven’t got their grown up voices yet either. They started with a honky type of sound which has now altered into a sort of strangled sound. They have had this sound for quite a while now.

This process reminds of when boys voices break. In the chicken world the boys start crowing quite early but the girls voices can take a long time to transition. Shadow and Sugar’s sound is so distinct that we can recognise them by it and I can tell it’s them when they are in the the chicken shed at bedtime after the automatic door has closed.

Their faces and combs are getting more red. They have also started pecking and scratching at the pine shavings in the nest boxes and often throw the shavings out of the box.

I am guessing that they will probably start laying early next year.


Both girls have had their baby, partial, moult. Shadow now has less grey than she did to start with and Sugar has developed very fine brown marks. They are both beautiful girls.

They are also so friendly. They are the easiest girls to get close up photos of and they like to jump on me. Sugar especially likes to jump on me.

Sugar is often still out at bedtime after the automatic door has closed. She likes to jump on to my back which makes it difficult for me to reach her to put her on the perch so I now hold my arm out and she jumps to my arm.

Sometimes after I have perched her in the chicken shed she will launch herself from the perch to me and often lands on my head. I swear she would prefer to perch on my head than on the perch with the other girls.

This has become a bit of an evening ritual. It’s not ideal but I don’t seem to be able to stop her. Sugar waits for me to go out at dusk each evening and she calls for me as I go up the path to the run. She then launches herself at me and sometimes I have to put her back on the perch a few times and then quickly close the door.

At least she is easy to reach when she is on my head. I have actually become quite used to having a chicken on my head, there is never a dull moment with these girls! At least these girls are little and light and it is quite endearing in it’s funny way.

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Sugar and Shadow have a fish treat

Sugar and Shadow are pretty quick to catch on to anything new these days so I thought I would see how they get on with fish for the first time. I had already put some allotment chard in the run which they were busy pecking at.

I put four little white dishes, with fish, on the girls’ patio. The flock know that white dishes mean a treat so they all came running apart from Sugar and Shadow. They were so busy pecking at the chard that they took no notice.

I took the opportunity to take a close up of Sugar and Shadow as they don’t mind the camera at all.

Sugar and Shadow

I then rattled the corn to get their attention and they came to investigate.

They have their first taste of the fish
Speckles watches over them
They soon decide that they like the fish

The next time I checked on them all the fish was gone. I think the girls enjoyed their treat.

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It’s Flame’s turn to moult

I keep thinking all the girls have done with moulting but then another girl starts. Like Ebony, Flame, had had a partial moult after going broody in the summer.

It seems that this means they moult in two halves. For the last couple of mornings I have been finding heaps of feathers under Flame’s roost spot in the chicken shed.

A heap of feathers in the chicken shed

I am also picking up loads of feathers from the run each day and when Flame shook herself feathers wafted down from her. The odd thing is that Flame doesn’t really look any different.

Flame doesn’t look much different to normal
A close up of Flame

It will be interesting to see if she stays looking this good. Smoke on the other hand looks a bit different at the moment. She has a patch of white feathers on her head.

Smoke has an odd patch of white feathers on her head

I have lifted her up for a close inspection and these are soft, downy, white feathers on her head. I am not sure if they are under feathers and maybe the dark ones are yet to come through or if she will keep this white patch on her head. Only time will tell.

It’s interesting how some of the girls’ feathers change after moulting. I will keep an eye on Smoke’s head feathers and report back here at a later date.

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Double Trouble Jigsaw

My friend Jackie sent me a colourful balloon jigsaw. It is a mirror image jigsaw which I have never come across before.

A mirror image jigsaw

I started to put the outside, straight, edges together. I realised that the rounded surface of the pieces was the right way up and the flat surface of the pieces was the underside. The image is on both sides of the pieces. As I got a section together and compared it to the picture on the box I realised that the right way up was the mirror image of the picture on the box.

I decided that my brain wasn’t able to cope with a mirror image and at this point I flipped over the edges that I had completed. The image was now the same as the picture on the box. I completed the edge and turned all the pieces to the flat side up on my tray.

This may be considered cheating but the box does say that it is two puzzles in one so I figured you could choose which one you want to do.

I like puzzles to have an image on the box to follow. I enjoy becoming familiar with the picture so that sometimes I can pick up a piece and I know where it will fit or I can look at a gap and find a piece of that colour and shape.

Once I had realised that I could follow the picture on the box by using the smooth pieces I found the puzzle really fun to do because it is so colourful. Because the puzzle is small and I found it addictive I started it one day and completed it the next.

I guess that once you have completed it like this you could then break it up and try it again using the mirror image. I don’t feel that I would enjoy completing the mirror imagine so I cheated and flipped the puzzle over. It holds together really well making it easy to flip over.

The jigsaw as I did it by following the image on the box
The jigsaw with the mirror image on the box after I had flipped it over
It was easy to flip it over

I actually liked the picture with the flat side up. It makes such a smooth jigsaw and the pieces fit together really nicely this way. It photographs better this way too.

At the moment my mum, Jackie and myself are sharing our jigsaws. This makes the jigsaws excellent value and helps us all during this time of lock-down so I will be posting this jigsaw on to my mum.

Mum can use this post as an explanation of how to choose which image to do. I know that my mum will prefer to do the jigsaw this way because we are very alike in the jigsaws that we like to do.

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Allotment chard for the girls

We have been gradually digging up the chard at the allotment and giving it to the chooks. There is too much for us to consume and the girls love it. It also saves me having to buy them some daily greens.

We have left the root so it keeps well and I give them a bunch each day. At the end of the day I go in and collect up all the bare stalks.

Allotment chard for the girls
The chard keeps the girls happy all day
There are just stalks left at the end of the day

It’s great that the allotment is still producing and the girls love the chard which keeps them busy throughout the day.

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No eggs and a broody girl

Flame had been laying every other day but laid her last egg five days ago. I was surprised that she continued laying so late into the year.

Smoke laid her last egg four days ago and has gone broody. Smoke had laid seventeen eggs in twenty five days which is pretty good going for her. Only a serial broody like Smoke would go broody this late in the year. It would not be a good time to be hatching eggs.

Broody Smoke in the nest box
Broody Smoke when I lifted her out of the nest box

I am back to buying eggs for the moment. I am quite happy to have none of the girls laying though. This is because the girls are all on grower pellets not layers pellets because Shadow and Sugar are too young for layers.

I had been a bit worried about Flame and Smoke still laying while on growers. As it happens Flame always produced too much calcium and her egg shells always had lots of calcium bubbles on them. While on growers these bubbles had got less and less until her last eggs were smooth like the rest of the girls eggs.

Smoke had only been laying for three weeks between her last broody spell and now so that hasn’t been too long and her shells have been good.

For this reason I am happy for Smoke to take a break and am leaving her to be broody. I just lift her three times a day to make sure she has a short break. At dusk I let her stay in the nest box until the chicken shed door has closed. I then lift Smoke and perch her in the chicken shed.

I am not expecting any more eggs this year. I expect that Smoke and possibly Shadow and Sugar will start laying in January and then the flock will be back on layers pellets. The girls deserve a break from egg laying.

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Two tatty moulting girls

Marmite and Ebony are both looking tatty. Marmite has a mass of pins on her head and Ebony has loose feathers and under feathers showing.

Marmite with a porcupine head
Two tone Ebony

These two girls both look odd in their own way. It will be good to see them both fully feathered again.

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Jigsaw Puzzles

After my post about the two jigsaw puzzles that I had to give up on my mum said that she had two really good ones and would send them to me. It has been so nice having enjoyable jigsaws to do.

The first one I did was of garden birds and was only 500 pieces. I started it one day and finished it the next. It was really colourful.

The next one was a vintage fair and was 1000 pieces. This was the best jigsaw we have had for a long time. It was so detailed and had lots of colour and was really fun to do. This took three days to do.

The jigsaw was finished so quickly because the weather has been dreadful and we have been mostly stuck inside. My mum wanted us to have something to help us through lock-down during bad weather.

Garden bird jigsaw
Vintage fair jigsaw

My mum has just finished another really good jigsaw and has put it in the post for me.

My friend Jackie has also finished a good one and is posting it to me. In return I am posting these two to Jackie. It is so good to be able to share good jigsaw puzzles and get the most value from them.

I am looking forward to receiving my next two jigsaws and knowing that they will be good fun to do.

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Ebony is moulting

I recently said that Marmite was the last girl to moult. Ebony had had a partial moult late summer after her one broody spell.

Suddenly instead of heaps of little black feathers in the run and chicken shed I am finding huge heaps of big black feathers. Ebony looked a bit tatty but not as bad I would expect considering the huge amount of feathers I have been picking up over the last few days.

Then yesterday I saw that she too had lost her tail. I had to gently move Speckles aside to get some photos.

Ebony looks very odd
Ebony has no tail

What I find interesting is that two different breeds and different sized girls but with the same colour feathers are both moulting at the same time and have both lost their tails at the same time. I expect it is just coincidence.

For a bigger sized girl Ebony looks even more odd with no tail. Tail feathers grow back quickly though so I am sure she will be back to normal soon. And here is one girl with no loss of confidence during moulting. Ebony isn’t afraid of anything and it was easy to get a close up of her.

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