Back in the Eggs

Well it seems the winter has passed, the daffodils are starting to reach for the sun, and the first one popped it’s face out today, the other sign is,

eggs eggs eggs

 two of the shavers have started laying again. Its been a while since I found a brown egg in the nest box, a good few months. This will be the third summer we have had our hens, I wonder if their prime laying years are already over?. I do remember one of the breeders we obtained our chicks from saying to replace the birds after 2 years if you want to keep a good supply of eggs.

Of course she was looking at it from a commercial point, but you can’t just dispose of pets after 2 years and replace them with younger models,  it was quite difficult to return the two roosters, Dorothy and Maria, (aka Dave and Manuel), and  we’d only had them for a few months, before we realised they were boys, and besides I don’t think anyone else would put up with ‘big fat Renee’s’ constant moaning.

So the eggs are a plenty again after the longest dry period we’ve had since being keepers of the chicken. May your nests be full and your birds be healthy and happy.

Nest Discovered

Hi there, this was a few months ago now, I had forgotten all about the pic, just thought I’d share it with you. Sneeky girls.

A Happy New Year

Hi and a happy new year to those following the christian calender, or gregorian as it’s refered to, I hope all went well with the start to the new decade. The hens have started 2010 contained finally, it seems, in my patchwork run made of wire, bamboo, string and pieces of pallet wood.

Renee our Light Sussex has seen the new decade in still sitting on the eggs that will never hatch, yesterday when I removed the nest box to change the hay, she went back into the coop, saw that the box was gone, and then came back out to look at the coop,  then went back in to check again, like she was checking if she had the right house, on the second visit convinced she was in the right coop, she just sat on the floor where the nest box had been.

Good fortunes in the new year..

Nest Sharing

Hi there keepers, I try to write my posts first thing in the morning when the brain is supposed to be alert,  I make a coffee,  roll a smoke,  and sit down to type.  So far today I have sorted out the feeder, it’s getting a bit clogged up with the damp weather, then I went to collect the eggs. Yesterday when cleaning out the coop, which was very messy, as it has been raining so much I haven’t felt inclined to stand out in the rain scooping chicken poo, well I noticed Manuella the Minorcan has stopped laying under the coop, she is the fussiest layer, if you so much as touch the egg that you are leaving behind in the nest, she will kick it outof the nest, she has done this on three occassions, and finally she has decided to move her nest, just when I had tracked down Daphne and Daisy’s new spot, and found the new nest of Betty.

I decided to clear the nest that Daphne and Daisy are using, it had been two days since I checked it , again due to the weather, and to my surprise found it contained three Minorca eggs too, so it would appear three out of the four current layers are using the same nest, which makes my life a bit easier, and dryer, as I only have to negotiate one damp shrubbery. So the girls have come to their senses and set up a time share nest in Mani’s garden next door, fortunately they have set it down  just over the small bamboo fence, which I can easily reach. I wonder do they know Nancy is only inches away from them, just behind the trellis, sitting broody on an egg about six weeks old, I hope she doesn’t break it, the smell would be awful, the neigbours wouldn’t be too happy either as it is just by their outdoor seating area.

Manuella De Minorca Lays

Manuella first 2 eggsHi there keepers, the day has arrived, well it must have been two days ago now, for I found two little white eggs under the coop this afternoon, while cleaning. Manuella’s first eggs ever, I feel so honoured, however in my haste to retrieve the new little eggs, I forgot to leave one behind, to ensure her that her nest is safe.

At about 2.30 this afternoon I heard a commotion from the garden, apon investigating I found it to be Manuella, clucking near the coop, in her distinctive honking sound, more goose like than chicken if you ask me, I realised what I had done, and tried to replace an egg, but she wouldn’t have it, she tossed it out of the nest twice, so I took it back upstairs, I say nest, but really it’s just mud under the coop, so I furnished her with some straw, and on returning from the supermarket she was busy in there, arranging her new improved straw nest, and a new egg was layed.

They are so neat looking, about 2/3 the size of the shavers eggs, like a boutique egg. We shall have them with breakfast tomorrow. Keeping chickens can be so rewarding.

Gloria’s Stash Discovered

Hi there keepers, well it’s a strange week, firstly Nellie’s been very unwell, close to going to the big field in the sky, I fear that it was my fault, I accidently fed the girls some mouldy feed, it’s must of been only a few bits, but that’s clearly all it takes, Daphne has also been slightly under the weather, but no where near as bad as poor Nellie.

Then to compound matters, it turns out that Dorothy isn’t a girl, she is actually a Donovan, so obviously a rooster now when you look at her, but again as was with the case, with Maria the Minorca, who turned out to be Manuel,  as some of you may remember, Dorothy or Donovan is of a breed ( Light Sussex), that wwe only have the one of, so nothing to compere with, until I looked on the international worldwide web (Googled it), quite clearly a rooster we have.

What first bought this fact to my attention was that Dorothy seemed to be trying to mount poor Nellie who did not have the strength to fight him off,due to her food poisoning.

Some of this is now history, however the good news is I found Gloria’s nest, just on the other side of the neighbours fence, in a corner of over grown weeds, I love finding the nest full of eggs, 15 in total, and all in good order, it was in a nice cool spot. Good old reliable Gloria.

Nancy’s Back

Hi there keepers, just a quick update on the broody hen Nancy, it seems she has decided to return, it has been about 6 weeks since she set up home in Mani’s garden, well behind his shed to be precise. I have been over and physically pushed her out of the nest, trying to get her to come back, as she wasn’t eating, just sitting there with no eggs under her. Recently she has been coming over for feeds, and yesterday she came over the fence, and hung about all day, it was only at sunset she thought about going back to mani’s shed, but I caught her and put her in the tempory holding pen, (a welsh dresser that lives on the back deck), and this morning she seems to have resumed her place in the flock, bossing every one else around, however I think she has been knocked back a bit in the order, Dorothy the biggest hen now, doesn’t seemed too bothered by Nancy’s low grumbles.

Le Coop De Grande

Hi keepers, well the time has come for me to expand the coop again, for those of you following the trials and tribulations, you will know that the girls are already living in the second home built coop, but now they are out growing that one. Now that the eight of them are living together, it’s not the size, I mean they do have enough space, it just the mess they make, after all they just roost in it, they don’t lay there, as the coop is a cosy size, it doesn’t take long for it to be dirty, also the main hinderance to me cleaning it is that i can’t get inside it, therefore I am building mach III, almost half shed size.

Ofcourse I shall be using the trusty pallet as my main building material. I have already constructed part of the frame from some 4 by 2, ( that’s wood that is approxiamtely 2inches thick x 4 inches wide, in old speak) which has been left under the house  by previous tenants. This time however I am going to build nest boxes inside, and encourage the girls to lay indoors. I don’t really work to any plan with these projects, they just sort of organically grow as I find the pieces of timber I need.

Therefore it makes it harder to give you details of how I’m constructing the coop. I’ll try.

 I started by making two rectangle frames of equal size ( depends how big you want your coop to be), using the two frames as the sides, I then joined them with more 2×4,(again length of these pieces will determine the width of your coop), at the top, with just nails, once this has been done both top and bottom, you should have and open cube, if that makes any sense. Then using the flat pieces from the pallets make your roof and sides, leaving the necessary gaps for doors and or windows etc. It sort of ends up being a bit of a patch work of wood.

It will save all of the jumping the neighbours fence, to retrieve eggs from nests next door, although it might not give me so much to write about, perhaps if I get things in too much order it will become boring, something tells me that won’t happen, it’s not my nature.

I will try to take a pictorial diary of the construcion of Le Coop De Grande.

Nancy’s Secret

Well hello there readers, firstly I must say, I was bowled over by the response from the ‘ thankyou for your support ‘ note,  thanks again, but on to the serious business of the broody Nancy.

As some of you might read nancy has been disappearing for days on end, only breifly coming back on some days for about twenty minutes to grab a snack, this behaviour to the experienced chicken keeper, would lead to only one conclusion, however as we are  novice chicken keepers, we thought she had just had enough of the new chicks, and was losing her place as top hen, so decided to ‘ fly the coop’, ( first time I’ve been able used that expression in it’s proper place), when she returned a second time, I started to think that she is laying somewhere secret, as Nancy has only ever layed one egg before to our knowledge, it seemed unlikely.

She turned up for the third time on Sunday, which meant as I was at home all day, I would be able to follow her when she left. They know when they are being watched, so I had to potter around the garden pretending to do something other than watching her, always looking out through the sides of my eyes. 

Eventually she made her move, down to the bamboo fence, one last stratch around to make it look like she wasn’t doing anything, then she popped through a hole in the fence and heading from the neighbours back porch, where they have their outdoor furniture arranged under cover, I lepted the fence, and hid behind a shrubery, I’d cleared this with the neighbours first, I don’t just go leaping into people’s garden willy nilly, might look strange, well from behind that bush I saw Nancy doing what looked liked something from mission impossible. She goes into the seating area, flies up over the back of one of the sofa’s, lands on the shelf with the plants on, then works her way along the shelf, going around the pot plants, jumps off the end onto a small wall, and then squeezes in between the shed and trellis fence, which is covered with ivy, talk about effort.

As she was in such a tight space she could not turn around, I was able to remove four of the eggs that had slipped out the back of her, I’m sure she is still sitting on at least 3 more, at least I know where she is now.

The Grand Deluxe Coop is under construction, this time with nesting boxes, all this sneaking around the gardens following chickens is,  A . Very time consuming and, B . I look silly doing it, if you didn’t know, I probably look like a peeping tom, sneaking around hiding behind neighbours bushes.

Has Nancy Gone Broody?

Hi there reader, low and behold as I looked out of the window down into the garden this morning, there she was, I called to her with the same sort of tone you would use after loosing a friend at a festival , ‘ Nancy!!! , there you are ‘. It was great to her well, if a little hungry.  What struck me straight away as I went out into the garden, although Nancy had returned there was no sight of any other bird, all seven were hiding, as it turned out not so much hiding, just away from Nancy, it really seemed as if she were being ignored by the others, the three newbies were down in the ginger bush,  with Nellie, the shaver most pecked by Nancy, and the other three were down in the bamboo by the edge of the creek, both groups had that look about them, you when you come into a room and the conversation stops, and everybodies pretending to just be talking about the weather.

There they were the two factions of hens in their hides, discussing Nancy, ‘ I see she’s back then! ‘ , ‘ I thought we’d seen last last of her ‘ , maybe the chicks were consouling Nellie, ‘ I know, she pecks us too, it’s not very nice, hmm ‘.  Well all their ignoring her payed off, I noticed she was starting to squeeze her way through the bamboo fence again, into Mani’s garden, so I watched her, unfortunately I had to go the post office, early closing Saturday, by the time I had wrapped the parcel, she had disappeared from sight, I look in the neighbours garden, racing her last movements, no sign. So I think she has gone broody and is laying in secret somewhere nearby, sitting patiently for eggs that will never hatch, bless her.