Impressions of A Rooster

Hello readers, it has come to my attention, usually at about 6.30 am everyday, that one of our hens, Nancy Pants, is crowing at the back door. Of late we have had a night time thief, coming into the run and eating the feed left out for the girls, in an attempt to not have to get up early to feed them, but a Possum I suspect is scoffing the food, so we haven’t been leaving any out for a week.

This has turned Nancy into a psuedo rooster, she has found a way to escape the run, and she hops up the back stairs, stands in the alcove for maximum acoustic effect, and lets rip her version of a rooster, which  sounds like a rooster, who’s not very sure about what he’s saying, sort of a questioning crow at the end. Imagine a town cryer ‘ hear ye hear ye hear ye, it’s 6.30 am and all is w-e-l-l,  I —  t-h-i-n-k? Is it 6.30am? ‘

It seems funny now, maybe that’s because it’s eleven am, but I can assure you, I’m not laughing at 6.30 am in the morning, more like swearing while trying a boot Nancy Pants back down the stairs, with a friendly slipper. Oh the fun never ends.

I’ve try several times to post the vid on here of Renee’s elephant impression , and i can’t so here’s the link to it.

feeding frenzy

Food and Water is not Enough

Hi there readers, after keeping hens now for some 15 months and of course documenting it along the way, I have reached the conclusion that chickens need alot of stimulation.

It appears that they are very emotive, for example if one lays a soft egg, she may be depressed for up to 3 days, maybe to a hen this is the equivilent to a miscarriage. Also since  they have been confined to the run, I have noticed that they search for food almost most of the time, when not dust bathing or napping, therefore when the source of food in the run expires, they instantly look bored.

Their mental well being ensures a better physical well being, so I am increasingly giving them more to explore and play with in the run, also trying to provide potential homes for bugs etc, hence the title Food and Water is just not enough, the difference between living a life and exsisting. I recently cut down a dead tree that have been strangled by Ivy and dragged the ivy covered trunk into the run, this has provided both a new source of food for them and a new object to explore, now I’m not suggesting you do the same, but have a think about their day, and give them something to do.

Doubling the Run

Hi there, today I am finally getting around to making the girls run bigger, it been 3 weeks now since they have been on full lockdown, we had one casulty, if the form of Manuella the Minorca got very depressed about being confined, she became ill, but as soon as I let her out she recovered the very next day.

Using more chicken wire, than bamboo this time, as it does let more light in, also it doesn’t look so opressive. Hopefully this will raise the wellbeing of our hens all round, they will have more space, more bugs, etc. As nice as it was in a hippy ind of way to let them roam free, but we do live in an urban area, and the back yard is definately cleaner now that they have been confined to the run.

The next task will be to double the size of the nesting box, as they have all decided to lay in the same box, and invariably a fight breaks out everytime one of them wants to lay, and at the moment Renee is broody, just about filling up the whole box, so it’s a bit of a squeeze to get two in side by side, although quite comical to see, I must get a pic to post for your amusement too.

Keep up the chicken keeping.

Camp Tenko on Full Lockdown!

As some of you may have read on the chicken update page, the girls have been locked up. Our very patient neighbour came  to the door this week and said something had to be done about the hens, they had eaten all his silvet beet (spinach like), not to mention the droppings left around his property, I’d say they have been going over to his garden for a good ten months or more. 

 Camp Tenko on full Lockdown

Tenko for chickens

The chicken run had fallen into a bit of disrepair as it wasn’t really in use other than first thing in the morning at last thing in the evening. So when the hens were put back in with the gate shut, they soon found holes in the bamboo fence big enough to get through, which was helpful to me for patching up the right places, it was a bit of a process, patch up one hole and wait for them to find the next way out. They made quite and effort in one case pulling back the wire fencing in one corner and wriggling under it, once that had been repaired they then searched for the next chink in the fence. After two hours of this, it seemed like I had found all the ways out, only to get up the next morning to find them all out, they had pushed the wire on the gate out at the bottom and crawled underneath it,  honestly they make David Blaine look like an amateur, that’s David Blaine now not David Bain, don’t what to get those two mixed up.

After day two of observing them escape and patching the gaps, they seem to be contained, however they are intent on escape, so I imagine I will ahve futher work to do yet, well it’s hard to see them locked up in a space about one twentieth of what they have gotten used to. As I type this Nancy has escaped, she just wants to get to the old nest which is at the front of the house.

The others seem ok about laying their eggs in the new nest areas I have provided for them, mainly though they look a bit bored in the run, I have been trying to find things to put in the run to keep them occupied, yesterday a put a grapefruit in for them, it was amusing to watch them peck at it, then shake their heads, simularly to a child given something bitter for the first time, but they went back for more, with the same result, which made me wonder about their memory time frame.

Hopefully they will get used to their new situation and so will we, it will benefit us in the long run too, as they would eat our vegetables too and the mess they leave around the house is undesirable, the garden should get a chance to recover from the constant pecking from the hens, maybe we can get some kind of lawn happening at the back now. I sign off  heavy hearted.

A Flaw in my Floor

Hi there reader, well I was thinking that all of the work being carried out in the back yard was upsetting the hens, as we have been down an egg or two each day, not so. As it happens the floor I made, from a single pallet, and hinged the bottom front of the coop to enable me to slide the floor in and out for easy cleaning, however what I didn’t think of, is not all eggs are the same size, and what had occurred was two eggs had infact slipped through the gaps, they can only of been there for 3 days at the most, because we got all the eggs on the previous days, still I gave them the floating test, to be doubly sure, so I think some adjustments will ahve to be made to the floor.

On another subject, is there anyone out there who has suggestions for hen bullying, one of the girls is constantly picked on by the others, mainly one bird ofcourse starts it then the others join in, Nancy is the Boss of the run, and today she had poor Nellie cornered against the fence, pecking at her furiously, which then made Daphne and Gloria join the afray, Nellie was helpless, liked a tired boxer caught it the corner with Mike Tyson bashing ten bells out of you, not very pleasant to watch either i might add, so I picked up a bit of bamboo, and gave Nancy a whack across the arse, she ran into the coop, an didn’t come back out til i’d gone inside, I know it’s nature’s way the pecking order and all that, but are there any ways to reduce it without seperating them?

Putting the new birds in the Run

Hi there reader,



Today I thought I would give Maria, our Minorca hen, a run with the big girls, as she is nearly the same size as them now, well feathers  wise, her body doesn’t have much weight about it at the moment, she will grow to be quite a bit larger than the shavers, so we’re hoping she’ll be able to cope with the aggressive nature of the shaver.

She didn’t cope to well today though, in hindsight it was a bad idea, as her first experience with the shavers has been, well , not ideal, as in they chased her around the run until they had her in a corner, then stood there looking menacing, frightening the poor wits out of Maria. She stood her ground with beak ajar in that defensive posture, but didn’t move for 5mins, so I thought it best to remove her back to the brooder.

Ofcourse the other angle which slipped my mind in my eagerness to mixed the birds in together, is that if Maria should pick up any little illness from the big girls, and then I put her back into the brooder with the young ones, she could past it on to them. As they are still very young their immune system isn’t quite ready for battle yet. Hopefully no damage done.

Am I bothered?

It seems not, the girls just sat there watching , there has been much activity in the garden today with the bridge for the sewer works being completed, one of the engineers has been welding up the metal plates, to the girders most of the day, and the hens nestled down in some straw and watched him, I hope they don’t have arc eye from looking at the welding, terrible affliction, like having sand in your eyes.

So in the end I didn’t have to move the run after all, they are doing all the work from one side of the creek, oh well, it got me motivated, and it has stopped the roaming around so much. On that note, I left a nice note on a trading message board, under enviroment, about this blog, ‘ anyone who wishes to take a look etc etc etc,’ ,well i recieved mainly good feedback, however this one individual, steamed in with, ‘dopey  this chickenkeeper,  i’ve been keeping hens 40yrs, amateurs, blah blah blah’,  not very constructive, so I left them a return note saying, ‘ why not part with some of your 40yrs experience, rather than judge my 3mth worth of chicken keeping skills against your 40’, 

Low and behold they did respond with some advice and tips on fences, which was nice of them, most people are nice given half a chance, don’t give them a whole chance though, that’s asking for trouble. Take a chance now and again yourself, I recommend twice a week to start, with food, please do not take chances while driving or operating heavy machinery, as this could result in an accident.


worker not 100% sure

worker not 100% sure

Update on Camp Tenko

Tenko for chickens

Tenko for chickens

Well, there I was feeling pretty good about my efforts of the new run, all fenced off with 6ft high bamboo, the gate even made from bamboo, I looked over it yesterday, spotted a couple of large gaps, which i blocked with, you guess it more bamboo, but then this morning, I left the girls in the coop til 11:30, thinking they will lay in the coop, but no, i opened the door on the coop to let them out for a feed, and they all marched out, straight through the fence, they can obviously make themselves smaller when they want to, as the gaps are half the size of them, a bit like when you first put a saddle on a horse, it pushes it’s stomach out, so when you’ve tighten the strap, it can let the breathe out and the strap becomes a bit looser, clever horses.

So it looks like I have more filling to do, more bamboo, which isn’t a problem, because it’s growing as fast as i can use it, we still have a few hundred stands of it, even though I have cut down a small forest of it, ok so maybe a slight exageration there, but all good stories need a bit of artistic license.

On the subject of escapee’s, Betty the new Wyandotte chick, had a little run around the backyard today, I left the wire ajar when I was giving them fresh water, and she seized her moment for freedom, she was harder to catch than one of the shavers, like a little roadrunner, cheep cheep instead of beep beep, but very simular in the running style, She’ll safely back in the brooder now with Maria and Dororthy, no doubt telling all about the big outside, ‘ oh the lights, the lawns, the bamboo, you should have seen it’, I know I’m no the only person who thinks there chickens talk.

Betty (roadruuner) Wyandotte

Betty (roadruuner) Wyandotte

Chicken Colditz

Half way stage of camp Tenko


Half way stage of camp Tenko


I’ve had it with retrieving the hens from next door’s gardens, and I’m sure, although they haven’t said anything, the neighbours are fed up of chickens’ droppings on their driveway. So today I started to build a big run, using bamboo, I suppose it’s more chicken Tenko, for those of you familiar with the BBC.

Sooner or later the civil engineers are arriving at my property to carry out some major works on the sewerage pipes at the back of the house, and they are to replace the old pipe that runs across the creek, so the girls would have had to be penned in then, heavy machinery about and big holes.

The larger of the new chicks, who I think is ready for a bigger space, she started clucking today, when she was surprised by my hand reaching in to change the water, also she can be quiet rough with the much smaller chicks, as she scratches at the ground, if one of the little ones are near her feet, they invariably get flicked out the back, in a rather unceremonious fashion.

So if I work on the run tomorrow, being a Sunday,…????, we’ll see, I could have it finished, then Maria can get out and mix it with the big girls, If she’ll mix with non pedigree birds that is, all in all it’s not the ideal I had in mind of the hens roaming around the garden happy to stay put, but this way they still have loads of garden to use, 250sq ft, and we can still let them out into the rest of the garden when we are at home.

Also this should I estimate give me about 5 hours week back, and they will all have to lay inside the run, no more searching for secret nests, although that was great when I did finally find it full of eggs, 9 in total, good day.