Flame has a visit to the vet

On Wednesday I thought that there was a slight improvement with Flame. On Thursday she seemed worse. She spent most of the first half of the day with her eyes closed and her head under her wing.

Flame was like this most of Thursday morning

I decided that it was time to take Flame to the vet. I got an appointment for three o’clock.

When it was time to put Flame in the cat box she was enjoying a lovely dust bath with her right eye closed. I tried rattling the sunflower seeds and calling her but she was enjoying her dust bath so much that she ignored me.

I had to lift Flame out of her dust bath. She didn’t shake herself so I stood her on the chicken’s patio and tried my best to pat some of the dust off her. It doesn’t work nearly as well as a chicken shake but it couldn’t be helped as it was time to go.

The lovely vet put some drops in Flame’s eye so that she would be able to see if there was any cut or scratch. She couldn’t see anything. She lifted her eye lid and couldn’t see anything there either.

The vet gave me some eye drops for Flame, Isathal, which is an ointment rather than liquid. The drops have a bit of pain killer in them too. The vet applied the first dose to Flame’s eye while I held Flame steady. They need to be applied twice a day morning and evening but I could give Flame a second dose later that evening.

The vet asked me to call on Saturday with a progress report.

As soon as Flame was back in the run she continued her dust bath. After that she was pottering around the run and her eye was open. Flame looked as if she was feeling better already.

Flame’s right eye at the end of the day after her first drops

I couldn’t believe how much better Flame looked after just her first eye drops. Her eye is obviously now feeling more comfortable. I kind of wish I had gone sooner but I am just glad that I went when I did. Hopefully Flame is now on the mend.

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Flame has a problem

For the last few days Flame was spending the days with her eyes closed. She was sitting with her head under her wing which is unusual for her and her eyes closed or she was sitting or even standing with her eyes closed.

It looked as if she just couldn’t keep her eyes open. I thought at first that she was just really feeling her age and then I started to think maybe she was getting to the end of her life.

But she looks great and has a red comb. She laid an egg both yesterday and the day before. She had a dust bath yesterday but even then had her eyes closed.

She also had her eyes closed when she was in the corner of the shed laying her egg.

Flame is also eating, drinking, going to the grit and having the treats.

Then when she was face on to us we realised that she had one eye open and one eye shut. It wasn’t that she couldn’t keep her eyes open it was that she had a problem with one eye. It is her right eye which had been facing us most of the time. She had her right eye closed and the other eye open.

When Flame did open her right eye I couldn’t see anything wrong with it but it was obviously really bothering her.

I googled the problem but just kept finding questions such as is it weeping and is it cloudy and nothing helpful to do for it. When Flame does open her right eye I can’t see anything wrong with it. I can only conclude that she must have scratched it.

Flame with her head under her wing and her eyes closed
Flame in the corner of the shed getting ready to lay her egg with her eye closed
Flame with her right eye closed but her left eye open
Flame’s right eye when open

This has been three days now. I don’t think there is anything we can do to help her. I think we have to wait and see what happens.

I really hope that it will get better on it’s own in time. It is obviously making Flame feel out of sorts as she has had her head under her wing and sometimes she has perched in the chicken shed.

Flame is always the first to go in at the end of the day but is going in earlier than usual. I really hopes this gets better soon. I feel so sorry for her and so helpless.

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The arrival of our Granddaughter

Wildflowers from the allotment

My eldest son and daughter in law have boys of five and two. On Thursday 9th June at 7.07 in the morning their daughter arrived, three weeks early, weighing six pounds and nine ounces. Mother and baby are well and the boys are super excited about their new sister’s arrival.

This is wonderful happy news and we can’t wait to meet her.

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Climbing rose

Every year at this time our climbing rose looks spectacular.

Roses heading up the garden path
Over the cabin roof
Over the arch
Close up

I know I photograph this rose every year but I can’t help it. It is so beautiful.

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Sugar is in broody jail

Sugar has now been broody for two weeks. Because I know that she will easily carry on for a month or more I have decided that it is time to break her out of it.

With five girls laying it is clogging up a nest box having Sugar in one all of the time and I don’t want her to lose condition.

Smoke who was also a serial broody used to allow me to perch her in the chicken shed overnight and I think that may be why she would come out of it after two weeks.

Sugar refuses to perch at night. She will go floppy and just drop from the perch making no attempt to hold on. When in the broody crate she will perch at night possibly because she doesn’t like to sit on the paper lining the tray rather than shavings.

This means she always comes out of it after two nights in the broody crate. Yesterday afternoon I put Sugar in the broody crate with a dish of water and a dish of mash.

Sugar is in broody jail

I got Sugar out before bedtime for exercise and some sunflower hearts. Sugar wasn’t at all interested and went straight to the closed nest boxes and tried to find a way in. I put her back in the crate.

At bedtime Sugar was on the perch when I closed the shed. This morning when I opened up she was still on the perch which is a good sign.

I closed the nest boxes and the chicken shed and returned Sugar to the run. Sugar had food and water and then a long dust bath which good to see. Sugar then hung out with the flock and I wondered if she had come through this super quick.

I knew the only way to tell was to open up the nest boxes. Sugar instantly made a bee line for the nest box and was straight back in. I returned her to the crate.

I will get her out a couple of times today and leave her in there overnight for a second night. I hope that will do the trick. Tomorrow we will see.

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Different ages in the flock

We now have quite an age range in our flock. Flame is six years old and is showing her age. She is laying an average of three eggs a week and looks amazing but she spends a lot of time sitting. She doesn’t rush to the treats but will have them if she is already nearby.

Flame sits like this a lot of the time but has a lovely red face and comb

Spangle and Salmon are four years old and are appearing to feel their age. Our bigger breeds such as Toffee, Emerald and Speckles have reached eight years old which seems to be the average old age for the bigger bantam breeds.

We have never yet had a serama beyond four years old so these two are our eldest yet. I know that Sophie has a serama of six years old but I am wondering if the girls from our breeder are old at four.

I say this because I feel that there is the possibility that we won’t have Spangle and Salmon beyond this summer. I would like to be proved wrong but I am facing up to the possibility.

The reason being that Spangle behaves exactly the same as Flame as if she is an older girl. Spangle spends a lot of time sitting and dozing. She also doesn’t run to the treats but will have them if she is nearby. Spangle hasn’t laid an egg for three weeks and her face and comb are pale.

Salmon looks amazing. She has a lovely red face and comb but she hasn’t started laying this year. Having had problems laying in the past it is easy to think that not laying is a good thing but the fact is that chickens don’t stop laying unless they are elderly or there is something adrift. After the situation with Spot I worry that the same could happen to Salmon.

Salmon is more active than Spangle but she also doesn’t run to the treats and only has them if she is nearby. These are all the things that worry me about Spangle and Salmon and I am prepared that I could lose them at any time and any time they are still with us is a bonus.

Spangle has a pale face and comb

Salmon has a red face and comb

Sugar is two years old and is robust and healthy looking. I think that although she is a serial broody like Smoke was she doesn’t lay nearly as many eggs so has a good chance at a longer life. Sugar lays an average of eight eggs then goes broody. She has now been broody for a week. She has improved though in as much as when I lift her out for a break she now always goes for a dust bath whereas she often used to go straight back in.

I am planning to leave Sugar a couple of weeks and then try to break her from her broody spell as I don’t want her to go on and on as she is prone to doing.

Dot is just over a year old. Dot laid an egg on her first full day with us and then didn’t lay for the next five days. I started to worry and kept thinking that surely we couldn’t be that unlucky to have the same thing happen as with Spot. Yesterday she laid an egg and I felt relieved!

Dot has a red face and comb
Dot is happy to get close to me
Dot is happy dust bathing with the flock
Dust bathing together

Gold, Snowflake and Storm are seven months old. Storm has laid six eggs in a row before taking a day off and laying again. Snowflake is averaging four eggs a week. Gold was averaging five eggs a week but has taken a four day break.

During Gold’s break from laying I have wondered if she was broody. She will spend hours in the nest box but then not lay. She reacts with the angry look of a broody when I check on her but when I lift her out she stays out for the rest of the day. She will then return to the nest box the following day and repeat the process. I think maybe she is just expecting to lay. Snowflake had similar behaviour when she had a short break.

Gold looking like a broody girl

The flock is such a lovely mix of girls and it is so lovely having no aggressive girls in the flock. I am trying to be realistic though and am thinking of Spangle and Salmon as older girls so that it won’t be a shock if we lose them. We will just make the most of them while we have them.

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Dot has laid her first egg with us

Yesterday was our first, five egg day, of the year. It was also Dot’s first whole day with us and she laid her first egg with us.

Sugar is now broody again after laying eight eggs in eleven days, her last one being laid yesterday. This is the exact same number that she laid last time she went broody. This many eggs must represent a clutch for Sugar and therefore time to sit again.

Dot has fitted into the flock beautifully. She had soon explored the run and she has been dust bathing with the flock and finding her way in at bedtime where she perches in the middle of the flock with no fuss at all.

Dot wanted to lay her egg right at the busy time when all the nest boxes were occupied. Sugar was laying her last egg in one nest box and has remained in the nest box ever since, apart from when I lift her out, for breaks. Gold was trying to lay her egg in the next nest box. Snowflake was trying to lay her egg in the third nest box and Storm nipped in and laid her egg next to Sugar. Storm has no objection to sharing a nest box with any of the girls.

Dot tried sharing with Sugar and then with Snowflake but was clearly not happy about sharing. I willed Gold and Snowflake to get their eggs laid so that Dot could have a nest box as she was running back and forth and beginning to look stressed.

At last both girls got their eggs laid and Dot was able to settle in a vacant nest box. She must have been desperate because she very quickly laid her egg. It is surprising large considering how small Dot is.

Dot tried sharing with Sugar
Dot tried sharing with Snowflake
Eventually a nest box became vacant
Yesterday’s five eggs

From the left is Dot’s large white egg followed by Gold’s egg. In the middle is Storm’s tiny egg followed by Sugar’s egg and then Snowflake’s egg on the right.

Having Dot lay an egg is a relief to me because that means she is healthy. Dot is such a lovely addition to the flock and I am super happy with her.

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We have a new girl

I missed Spot in our flock so much and I started wondering if the breeder would be able to spare me another hamburg. I called her a few days ago and told her about Spot.

I asked if she could spare another hamburg and she said that she was sure she could find me one. She said she would check and get back to me. A few days later she said I could have one and we agreed that we would collect her Friday afternoon.

I immediately named this girl Dot. She is one of last year’s girls so is the same age that Spot was, just over a year. She is smaller than Spot and has a smaller comb.

The breeder said she has been finding eggs but if she doesn’t lay then I could switch her for another as she has one more. This is just in case there is the same problem with her but I said I thought it would be very unlucky to happen to another.

I put Dot straight in the run and she mixed easily with the rest of the girls and had soon explored the entire run. She went in both shelters and on top of them. She had a drink of water and some food. She went inside two of the nest boxes and the chicken shed.

Dot doesn’t seem as nervous of me as Spot was at first and I managed to take some photos quite easily. Dot isn’t much bigger than the seramas.

All the girls eventually had a token peck at her, the sort that doesn’t really connect. They were just showing her that she is bottom girl at the moment but there was nothing nasty and Dot took it in her stride.

Dot immediately mixed with the other girls
They took no notice of each other
Dot isn’t much bigger than the seramas
Dot explored the nest boxes and the chicken shed
Dot went inside both nest boxes and the shed
Dot close up

I expected the next hurdle to be learning where to go at bedtime. It usually takes three or four nights for a new girl to get the hang of it.

To my amazement I checked on the girls just before dusk to see how they were getting on and half the girls were still out but no sign of Dot. I checked the chicken shed and there was Dot perched between Storm and Snowflake.

I checked back a little later when the pop hole had closed. All the girls were perched on the back perch and Dot was still perched in the same position as good as gold. what a clever girl!

We have never had a new girl find their own way in on the very first night before. I think Dot is going to fit in just perfectly. I am so happy with our latest flock member.

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We got Spot at the end of last September when she was five months old. I had waited for two summers to get her because during both those summers the breeder had ended up with ninety percent cockerels and I think she probably only let me have Spot because I had waited so long.

Spot was very nervous when we first had her but I gradually won her confidence and she became very friendly and would eat out of my hand and occasionally jump on my back.

We have had Spot for eight months and she had grown in beauty and in confidence and had a lovely nature.

In February her comb and face became red and she practised in the nest box a couple of times but never laid. After that she never returned to the nest box and at a year and a month old she had never laid an egg which I felt meant that there was something adrift with her.

I think Spot had heart failure as she went very quickly and a heart problem is probably why she never laid. She had such a short life but did have eight happy months with us.

Spot soon after we got her – October 2021
November 2021
Spot having a fish treat – December 2021
Spot just starting to get a comb – January 2022
Spot’s comb is getting redder – February 2022
Spot checks out the new girls – March 2022
Spot with the new girls for the first time – March 2022
Spot’s magnificent comb – April 2022
Spot with her flock mates – 2022

Spot was such a lovely girl and will be very much missed.

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Spot’s gone

I am still in shock that we lost Spot yesterday. It was so sudden. She had been dust bathing, running around, rushing to the treats and seemed her usual self.

I went up to the girls late afternoon and Spot was sitting with her eyes closing. I knew straight away something was wrong. I picked her up and inspected her. Everything felt normal. Her chest and crop felt normal and there was no sign of an egg problem which is the first thing I look for.

I set her back down in the run and she moved away. I checked back in ten minutes and was shocked to see her laying in the run. I thought she was gone already but she was still breathing. I picked her up and put her in a nest box so she would be somewhere more comfortable.

I kept checking on her and she hadn’t moved. I felt that she wasn’t suffering because she looked like she was asleep. I kept checking on her and she was gone a little later. I left her closed in the nest box overnight and we buried her in the chicken’s strip this morning.

We dug up a yellow poppy and buried her and then replanted the poppy over her and marked her spot with a wooden cross.

Spot was not looking well
Spot opened her eyes when I went to pick her up
Ten minutes later I found Spot like this
I moved Spot to the nest box and she remained like this
Spot’s resting place under the yellow poppy
The chicken’s strip

I believe that Spot had heart failure as I have seen this before with Sienna and then Jasmine who were siblings. I think that if she had a heart defect that would have caused her to be unable to lay eggs and then her heart just suddenly gave out.

For Spot it was a quick way to go and she has had eight happy months with us. For me it is heart breaking. I waited two summers to get Spot. She was a year old last month. In my heart I knew that because she had never laid there must be something adrift but she looked vibrant and beautiful.

She had grown in confidence since we had her and had a lovely nature. I just can’t believe she has gone so suddenly. I will do a tribute for her soon but at the moment I am still reeling from the shock. She was such a beautiful girl and I will miss her.

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