Our wedding anniversary

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary ( Tuesday 12th May ). It was also my grandson’s third birthday and my new grandson ( his sibling ) is now three weeks old.

We have been coping with the lock-down well but the one thing I really miss is visiting my three year old grandson and being able to hold my new grandson. I will never get to hold him as a new baby.

However his birth went smoothly and they are all well and happy so that is the only thing that really matters. My eldest son has been sending me photos from the moment of new baby’s birth and we have kept in touch with google hangouts so that I could watch the new baby as I chatted to my son.

Yesterday we did a video call on whatsapp so that I could watch my three year old grandson open his birthday present from us which we had posted to him. It was lovely to see him and chat to him.

We are lucky that during these difficult times we have the technology to stay in touch and I look forward to a time when I can see them again in person.

As I am the one doing the shopping for us I bought an anniversary card for both of us and said in it that we were lucky that if we had to be locked in we were locked in together.

I bought some posh chocolates and for our evening meal I bought smoked salmon canapes as a starter and cooked ribeye steak, mushroom and chips.

My lovely husband surprised me with a home made card and some wild flowers from the allotment.

Wild flowers from the allotment

It was lovely and just shows how we can still do special things in very simple ways.

We are all having adjust to these strange times and must make the best of what we can. It was a happy day.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

Sunbathing

The girls, just like me, love sunbathing. I love to see them them spreadeagled and soaking up the rays.

Marmite and Salmon sunbathing
Soaking up the sun
A few moments later Ebony joins Marmite and Salmon

This is always joyful to see. One of the things we have in common is our love of the sun.

Posted in Chickens | 8 Comments

Another veg frame

My husband has now made a smaller frame for the cabbages. They need the same protection as the broccoli but don’t need so much height.

Another frame planted with red cabbages

We are looking forward to a productive year from both the allotment plot and our own veg plot. Of course we have much more time to put in the care this year.

Posted in Chickens | 2 Comments

Salmon has a bit of a blip

While Marmite has recently been struggling to lay her eggs Salmon had looked better than ever and had been laying much more frequently than ever before. Salmon has sometimes been laying two days running which had only happened on rare occasions the year before.

Last week Salmon and Flame were sharing a nest box. I thought they looked so sweet together that I took a photo.

Flame and Salmon share a nest box

When I checked back a little later Flame was out in the run. I checked the nest box and couldn’t see an egg so I lifted Salmon and found that she was sitting on Flame’s egg.

I wondered if Salmon was going broody or if she had just decided to sit on Flame’s egg while waiting to lay her own. I removed the egg and left Salmon to it.

A little later I checked again and Salmon had laid so I took her out of the nest box and she stayed out. Perhaps not broody then.

The following day Salmon looked poorly. She looked just like Marmite does when she is struggling to lay. I couldn’t understand why Salmon should be struggling when she had laid her egg the day before with no problem.

Salmon looks poorly

Salmon had the same posture that Marmite often has and her eyes kept closing but she opened them when I took her photo.

I hate to see the girls like this and feel so helpless. I can’t understand why this should happen as nothing has changed in their diet. Salmon looked like this until she went in at bedtime and from experience I knew that she would probably get her egg laid in the morning and hopefully bounce back.

The next morning Salmon looked back to her normal self again. I found half a soft shell on their patio area and the rest of it in a sticky mess in the chicken shed. I think they must have managed to get half the egg outside and eat the contents.

Later that day Salmon spent time in the nest box and I knew that she hadn’t realised she had laid her egg as this often happens after a soft shelled egg. I always think that it is odd that the girls look so poorly before they lay the egg but then when they actually lay it they don’t seem aware of it. A little later Salmon left the nest box.

The next day Salmon was back in the nest box again. This time she was in the nest box for a long time and when I checked on her she raised her tail like the broody girls do and had an angry glint in her eye at being disturbed. Once again I wondered if she was going broody.

Salmon is behaving like a broody

Salmon has never been broody but then again she has never laid so well as this year either and it tends to be the better laying girls that go broody.

I lifted Salmon out of the nest box and she went straight back in again. I decided that if she was broody it would be a good chance for her to take a break from laying.

However the next time I checked on Salmon she had laid a good shelled egg and was back out in the run looking perfectly normal again.

It seems that it was just a blip and Salmon has looked her usual self since then. These girls do like to throw a bit of drama our way every now and again.

The day after Salmon looked poorly Marmite looked poorly again. Here we go again, I thought! The following morning Marmite had also bounced back and there was her egg on the patio just outside the pop hole. It looked perfect but when I picked it up the shell broke in my hand. The shell was really thin.

A few days later Marmite went into the nest box without looking poorly. This time Marmite laid a good shelled egg. While looking poorly Marmite always goes to the grit so she knows what she needs. It seems that she is taking grit and oyster shell but it doesn’t seem to be helping her form her shells properly.

I hope that after laying a good shelled egg Marmite is now improving. It seems to be one drama after another with these girls at the moment. Today both Salmon and Marmite look happy again so I can only hope it stays that way.

In other news Smoke has gone broody again. She has laid nine eggs in twelve days. Sigh!

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

Allotment

My husband had been going to the allotment most afternoons during the recent sunny spell. He dug and weeded and mowed the grass. He put the canes in ready for the runner beans. He bought me home a few wild flowers in his water bottle.

On the last day before the weather broke and the rain came we went up together and I took a few photos.

The netting is now the required green instead of the offending orange of last year and the frames are now a better height. They are high enough to be useful but not so high as to offend anyone.

Our allotment plot which has lovely views all around it
Viewed from the other end
Giant artichoke
Strawberry bed and wild flowers
Plants ready to go in soon

One of the artichokes has turned into a giant. We exchanged some of our globe artichokes for some Jerusalem artichokes with the lady on the next plot. It is good to have some things on the plot that will come back each year.

We have raspberry canes, rhubarb and a strawberry bed which will all remain there every year. We were also surprised to find that the wild flowers we sowed from seed last year have also come back and last year’s parsley is looking amazing.

We have lots of plants almost ready to go in. The only thing we haven’t managed to get is seed potatoes so we are going to try chitting supermarket potatoes and plant those.

We have also put whatsapp on my phone and called it – allotment gurus. All three of us sharing the plot have it so that we can message each other to say when we are going to the allotment or when we are watering the plot so that we can space out our visits and take turns with watering.

We can also share photos of anything coming up on the plot or being grown at home for the plot. Who would have thought that the lock-down would have us using technology that we have never used before!

We were worried before the lock-down that it would stop us from using the allotment this year but actually it has all worked out very well. It gives us a source of exercise and will provide fresh produce and there is plenty of space between plots to keep distanced if other people are tending their plots.

With our app it means we all three get each message instantly instead of texting each other as we did before and we can all feel involved. I think the plot will be even better this year.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

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.

Posted in Chickens | 8 Comments

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.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

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.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

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.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

Speckles

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.

Posted in Chickens | 7 Comments