Broodies and dust bathing

Yesterday Smoke went broody, four days, after Sugar. Smoke has laid ten eggs in thirteen days. That is two more eggs in two more days than Sugar. These girls are both serial broodies!

Salmon, Spangle and Shadow are all taking a break from laying. With Sugar and now Smoke out of lay we only have Ebony and Flame laying. It is eight days since Shadow last laid, ten days since Spangle last laid and eleven days since Salmon last laid.

I am now just lifting Sugar every time I go in to the chicken run like I do with Smoke. Sugar has now settled into a more normal way of being broody so I hope that she won’t need to go in the broody crate.

Sugar now accepts being lifted from the nest box and stays out long enough to have water, food and a dust bath instead of just rushing straight back in. The other change is that she is accepting me putting her on the perch at bedtime instead of dropping down to the corner of the shed floor.

As long as Sugar doesn’t go on beyond a normal time of being broody I am hopeful that this will be enough. I am hoping that she has mellowed into being a normal broody rather than being obsessive to the point of starving herself to sit all the time.

Yesterday afternoon Salmon, Spangle and Shadow were dust bathing in a patch of sun. I lifted Sugar and Smoke from the nest box for a break and they joined the other little girls in the dust bath.

It was so lovely to see them all dust bathing together that I fetched my camera. Flame was dust bathing a bit further along and it was only Ebony that didn’t join in and was strolling on the other side of the dividing wire.

A row of dust bathing girls
Smoke playing headless chicken and Salmon laying on an outstretched wing
They are enjoying communal dust bathing
They love a good dust bath in the sun

I love to see the girls dust bathing together. In the past Sugar would have gone straight back to the nest box within seconds but she seems much more chilled now.

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This and that

At this time of year our hibiscus is amazing. It is opposite the chicken run and towers over the chicken run height wise and has a mass of blooms.

Amazing hibiscus
A close up of the blooms

We picked one corn cob from the allotment today to see if they are ready and were stunned to see that it is just perfect.

And in chicken news Ebony started laying again five days ago and has laid three eggs since then. That’s two and a half weeks since she went broody.

Today Sugar has gone broody again after laying eight eggs in eleven days which seems to be her maximum. We had just four days of all the girls laying before Sugar went broody once more. Sigh!

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Broccoli stalks for the girls

One of the great things about having chickens is that no allotment or garden produce ever gets wasted. The broccoli we tried to grow on our garden veg plot hasn’t worked. The cage to keep out the butterflies, followed by caterpillars, isn’t tall enough.

The broccoli wasn’t able to produce heads. We have had some lovely broccoli from the allotment so we decided to take a hit on this and pulled up some stalks for the girls.

The girls have broccoli stalks
This will keep them happy all day

By the end of the day I expect to remove just the stems.

Moulting seems to have started early this year. After their recent broody spell both Ebony and Smoke are moulting and I am picking up little piles of feathers from the chicken shed each morning plus a few from the run. I don’t anticipate these two girls starting to lay again for a while.

Flame was laying every other day until four days ago. For the last few days Flame has been sitting in the nest box for a while but not laying. I think she may have come to the end of her season but doesn’t seem to realise it yet or maybe she is just taking a break.

Sugar was only out of lay for two weeks including her broody spell and a one week break after she came out of it. It always amazes me how quickly Sugar starts laying again. She started laying again two days ago.

Other than Sugar we have Salmon, Spangle and Shadow laying. Shadow also took a break for a week which she does from time to time and has laid twice since then. Spangle is an erratic layer and only lays on average once a week. Salmon has hit her stride and has been laying every other day for three weeks now. This is really good for her.

The girls are just about keeping us in enough eggs for now. It is great to be between broodies at the moment but I know it will be Sugar who will go broody again when she has laid her quota of eggs.

I am used to the routine now though and will just make the most of this time between broodies.

Edit :

Flame has just laid, later this afternoon, after her four day break so it looks like she hasn’t finished after all which is good news.

I wrote this post too soon. The next day Smoke laid again which is three weeks from when she went broody. Looks like we have our two best layers back for now.

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Through with broodies for now and some group photos

Sugar had three nights in the broody crate and then was through with being broody. This works really well with Sugar.

Having three broody girls at once meant there wasn’t much egg laying going on. We have been getting just one or at best two eggs a day. This meant that I could keep the nest boxes closed and try to break all three girls at once.

The reason Sugar spends the nights in the broody crate is because she refuses to perch in the chicken shed when broody while Smoke and Ebony will perch. Sugar perches on the perch in the broody crate though. I think she doesn’t like sitting on the paper lining the crate.

For the last two nights I left Sugar in the run and she has perched at bedtime. It is so nice to see all the girls perching together.

Today I opened up the nest boxes and none of the girls that had been broody took any notice so I think they are now all through it. Hurrah!

As well as sharing our allotment produce with our neighbours the girls also get a share. They get to have anything that goes to seed.

The girls share our allotment produce

The girls also get any soft tomatoes and chopped tomatoes is one of their favourite things.

The girls love chopped tomato
A great way to get a group shot

It is so good to see all of the flock together again. I don’t suppose it will last long but I will enjoy it for now.

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Three broodies and today’s allotment harvest

Smoke has now been broody for nine days. Sugar has been broody for five days and Ebony went broody three days ago. It’s getting ridiculous!

I go up to see only half the flock in the run and if a girl is laying even less girls out. The nest boxes are clogged up making it awkward when a girl wants to lay.

I just can’t manage with three girls broody at once so decided I need to break them out of it.

I decided to start with Sugar because she is the easiest and three nights in the broody crate is enough to break her out of it. She had her first night in the broody crate last night.

This morning it was obvious that Flame wanted to lay. She didn’t lay yesterday so was ready for a morning egg. Flame always makes a mournful sound when she wants to lay so it’s really easy to tell. I put Sugar back in the broody crate and opened up the nest boxes.

I decided to put Smoke in with Ebony to leave another nest box empty for Flame. When I returned to check on them this is what I found.

Flame decided to share with Ebony and Smoke

Flame is the girl most happy to share a nest box and she wasn’t put off by there being two girls in there already. Flame soon laid her egg and I closed the nest boxes once more and returned Sugar to the run.

We then went up to the allotments to pick some produce for our Sunday dinner. There is an abundance of produce at the moment.

Today’s harvest

The amount we picked has made little impression on the amount of produce still to be picked. We are sharing our harvest with our neighbours and will message our allotment sharers to go and pick too.

It is that time of year when everything comes faster than we can keep up with. I don’t like rhubarb myself but we pick it and pass it round the neighbours as it needs to be picked. Luckily our neighbours are happy to receive produce.

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Broodies and sharing nest boxes

Sugar has now gone broody as well as Smoke. Sugar has laid nine eggs in twelve days. The gap between going broody and the amount of eggs laid seems to be diminishing for both of them.

Having two broody girls in the two favourite nest boxes makes it awkward when the other girls want to lay.

Today when I could see that both Ebony and Salmon wanted to lay I decided to put Sugar in with Smoke to free up another nest box. On the same day that Smoke went broody Salmon started laying again.

Ebony immediately took up her position in the favourite nest box and Salmon settled in the third nest box by the gate.

The next time I checked on the girls Flame had settled in the nest box with Ebony. It seems that sharing is a must at the moment.

A little later Salmon laid her egg in the third nest box. The next time I checked both Ebony and Flame had laid their eggs side by side.

Flame and Ebony share a nest box
Sugar and Smoke share a nest box

I was pleased that three girls got their eggs laid without any shouting. It is so much easier when the girls will share nest boxes.

Luckily we had built up a collection of eggs while all the girls were laying for a short while so we will be okay with two girls out of lay for a while.

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Beautiful lilies and Smoke is broody again

Our lilies have been amazing this year. I took some photos before the rain came to bash them down.

Dark lilies
Two coloured lilies
Orange lilies

Smoke is broody again. She has laid eight eggs in eleven days. Smoke is out of lay for longer than she is in lay. This year has been a record even for her. This is Smoke’s seventh broody spell so she is broody on average once every month.

I guess I should be used to it by now and I guess nothing is ever going to change her.

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Our second, six egg day, of the year

Yesterday was the second time this year that we had six eggs from our seven girls. The first was on 28th March and this time on 21st July. On both occasions it was Salmon who didn’t lay.

Salmon wasn’t laying in March after her, soft shelled egg, experience and she isn’t laying at the moment after her brief broody spell.

It was a very hot day yesterday and I was sitting in the shade with a book. The garden is looking so colourful with the day lilies being the best they have ever been due to the clumps growing bigger and the red of the crocosmia in the foreground is framing the view beautifully.

The colourful view looking up to the chicken run

Anyway back to the chickens. I sometimes think there is something hormonal that passes between chickens causing them all to want to lay on the same day, at the same time and of course in the same nest box!

Being a hot sunny day all our neighbours were in the garden and I was very much aware how noisy the girls were being. The little girls all wanted to lay at once and were all shouting.

Sugar laid first then Smoke and Shadow wanted the same nest box. I had been checking on them and Shadow was in the nest box and Smoke was shouting and she is a very loud girl. Then I heard Spangle shouting and I checked again. Smoke had forced Shadow out of the nest box and Shadow had laid her egg on the patio just outside the nest box. Sigh!

Next time I checked Spangle was in with Smoke which was brave of her and both girls had just laid.

Straight after that Flame and Ebony both wanted to lay. Ebony would shout when Flame was in and then Flame would shout when Ebony was in and they were constantly changing places. They too have a very loud shout with Ebony being the loudest of all.

I kept worrying about what the neighbours would think and was constantly going up to them to try to quieten them.

It was so hot that both bigger girls were open beaked and panting in between shouting. I tried giving cooling cucumber, tomato and grapes to cool and distract.

At last it went quiet and I checked again and both bigger girls were in the nest box together.

Flame and Ebony in the nest box together

They didn’t look too thrilled to be sharing and it can’t be great in the heat. Soon after they both got their eggs laid and peace returned once more. Phew! Thank goodness that was done for the day.

It’s probably just as well that we don’t have many, six egg, days. All was peaceful today with just three, little girl, eggs.

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I dug the run over today

The girls love it when I dig over the run. They follow me with excitement to see if there will be any worms. Ebony got all the worms because she is such a thug that she keeps the other girls away and there were only a few worms.

But afterwards the little girls love to peck and scratch and dig in the freshly turned soil. Smoke in particular loves to dig deep holes. The two bigger girls were down the bottom part of the run having a dust bath in the freshly loosened soil.

I have just dug over the run
The girls love scratching and digging in the freshly turned soil
They are having such a good time

I love to see the girls having such simple fun.

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This and that

We have had slow worms breeding in our garden in all the years that we have lived here. We know that they breed here because every year around March we see the tiny baby slow worms. I saw them this year in March but by the time I grabbed my camera they had gone.

Throughout the summer months we see the slow worms gradually getting larger, long and slim. Occasionally we will see a really big slow worm, long and thick, so we have them at all stages.

A few days ago I saw one that was long and slim. It was probably one of the tiny ones I had seen earlier in the year. This time it was still on the path when I returned with my camera.

Slow worm
My hand next to it to show it’s size

I definitely think this is one of this year’s babies growing up. It was perfectly still and I couldn’t resist gently stroking it on the centre of it’s back. It wiggled it’s way, at speed, into the undergrowth. There is nothing slow about them when they want to move.

The garden is looking amazing at the moment. This is when the garden looks at it’s best.

My favourite part of the garden is in front of the chicken run

I love all the different heights, textures and colours in this part of the garden.

And looking down towards the patio

And on to chicken news. After a week of being broody I put Sugar in the broody crate for three nights. That was all it took to break her out of it and exactly a week later she is laying again.

Smoke also started laying again a week after she gave up being broody. Flame started laying again after her one month break. Ebony and Shadow are laying. Spangle has laid one egg after a two week break. Spangle is an erratic layer. Salmon is still on her post broody break.

We have gone from next to no eggs to back in the swing again. We are in one of those lovely periods of no broody girls which we have to make the most of because it won’t last long.

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