Friday, 7 June 2013

New Chickens!

Meet Darrell, Alicia, Belinda, Wilhelmina (Bill) and Mary Lou. Not forgetting of course the grand old lady, Speckeldy Selina who is still going strong - amazing for a hybrid!

Speckledy Selina - the most amazing chicken in the world!

Gold Brahma - Wilhelmina, aka Bill

Light Sussex, Welsummer and Cream Legbar - Alicia, Darrell and Belinda.

Cream Legbar
and last but not least, my little silkie Mary Lou!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Snow Chickens

It has been very snowy this week, which is very unusual for Bristol. The children have loved it, the chickens have seemed a little confused! Dopey has (typically) chosen this week to begin moulting, which seems highly stupid - but fairly typical for her! Fortunately Honey, Speckeldy Selina and Ginger all appear to be nicely refeathered, and Snowdrop and Smokey are too young to moult. But they all seem to be coping well with the cold weather and I am giving them extra corn to keep them warm, especially at night - tonight is forecast to be -5!

A couple of pictures - firstly, chickens in the snow, and then a non-chicken photo!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Happy together at last!

Smokey, Snowdrop and Dopey have been living in the divided run since my last post. We tried another attempt at getting them to live together by Dopey still chased the other two mercilessly, pulling out feathers, standing on their backs, and so we decided they would need to be separated for longer, or even permanently. Graham built a little house for Dopey on the end, and this seemed to work well.

Last week Smokey came into lay, and possibly Snowdrop too (it is hard to tell who is laying what, but Smokey has very developed comb and wattles, and Snowdrop is reddening up too.

This morning we heard squawking (I hadn't shut their popholes last night so they were up early), and Graham discovered that Snowdrop had managed to knock out one of the canes and get through to Dopey's side. But they were not fighting - they seemed happy. We took out a few more canes, and they didn't fight at all. Looking out of the window, they are all standing together, preening happily. A success story!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Moving the run, and an attempt at integration

The new run was built on the patio, and so the new chickens spent their first week living on the patio. However, I was very aware that not only did this mean that WE could hear every squawk, it also meant our long-suffering neighbours could as well. So we have moved them to the bottom of the garden, which has the added bonus of us being able to use the patio. Ever since we moved in to this house in 1999 it has housed animals - mostly rabbits, but now it is completely clear.

Having moved the house and run, I thought it would be a good time to unleash Dopey on Smokey and Snowdrop. I took the canes out, and for the first 5 minutes I thought all would be well - they eyed each other up, but didn't take too much notice. However, Dopey soon remembered that her favourite game was 'chasing new chickens', and the poor new chickens fled to the house. Dopey followed them in and booted them out again, in order to chase them.

This carried on for about an hour with lulls in the warfare. I eventually put the canes back in, as it may be normal to sort out the pecking order in this way, but I didn't think my nerves could take any more!

Part of the problem I think is that they are in an enclosed run - if our fences were up then I would let all 3 of them into the garden, where there is much more space for the new girls to escape from Dopey, so we are going to build a little house for Dopey on the end of the run, and keep the run divided. Then when the garden is secure we can have another go, or they can live together but divided. She still gets the benefit of the company, but can't chase them.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Dividing the run

Over the last few days it became clear that the run needed to be divided so that the chickens could gain confidence in the run together. So we rigged up a temporary divide out of garden canes - a piece of wood at the base with holes drilled through to hold the canes, and a bungee cord woven around the top. The first attempt was a dismal failure, as the chickens just wandered round the side...! But second try we cut a longer piece of wood that actually sat on the wooden frame, and that worked much better.

The chickens didn't seem to mind being in the run together although Smokey and Snowdrop took a little while to get enough confidence to come out with Dopey there. But by the end of the day they were much more confident together. This evening Smokey even managed to dislodge a cane and squeeze round, and Dopey didn't flap at her, and she didn't run away from Dopey. So I hope that a few days of the barrier will help a smooth transition to them all being together. I have put the food beside the barrier on both sides, so that they can get used to eating together.

I put our old children's wooden bench in the run today - they loved it! Perching on it, hiding underneath it, jumping off! It is a great plaything for them.

We had a visitor this evening - fortunately he wasn't too interested in the chickens, but this picture shows how brazen the city foxes have become. The picture is a bit blurry as it was taken through the window, but he is a very fine fox!

Friday, 4 July 2008

Hens named!

Just a quick post - I have decided on the new girls' names - the Bluebelle was always going to be Smokey, but I couldn't decide on the white chicken's name - Graham suggested Snowball, but I have decided on Snowdrop - it is a little more elegant and pretty for a very beautiful chicken. So welcome, Smokey and Snowdrop.

New hens!

Dopey has some new friends! On Wednesday I decided to go and get her 2 new friends. I first went to a bird farm which I have heard good things about. However, two things persuaded me not to buy birds there - firstly, they gave me wrong advice I think - I wanted to get 2 birds, to balance up Dopey's advantages of age/laying status/establishment in run, as otherwise I thought it would be uneven. However they said I should only get 1, as otherwise they would gang up on Dopey. Secondly, their birds seemed a little quiet, a little hunched and I just didn't feel they were as healthy as they might be.

So in the afternoon I went back to Annie Hall, whose chickens were lovely, and I bought a lovely Bluebelle, and a 'silver link hybrid' which I think is similar to the Amber Star chickens. The bluebelle is called Smokey, and I think the white chicken will be Snowball, but I'm not sure yet.

Introducing them to Dopey has been interesting; when I got them home I put them in the chicken house with the pophole shut, so they could have a rest, a drink and some food. They were fairly quiet, but later on they had a big drink and then ventured into the run (I had put Dopey in the house of the other run with the door shut). They enjoyed exploring the run. In the evening I let them all into the run together - Dopey instantly chased the new chickens indoors, and had a bit of a peck. They all slept together happily, but the new birds are obviously wary of Dopey. The first night, the new girls roosted on the perch and Dopey slept on the floor.

Yesterday when I let them out, there was a fair amount of scuffling, and I spent most of the day changing the chickens round - so Dopey spent some time in the rabbit hutch, with the new girls in the run so Dopey could see them and they could see her. I will do this each day so that they have some undisturbed time in the run, to gain confidence - at the moment they are spending most of their time in the house as they feel safe in there. Last night they all roosted together - with Dopey snuggled up on the perch next to Smokey. So I'm hopeful it won't take too many days for them to be happy together! We will have to see how today goes. I'm not totally happy about leaving them out together when I'm out yet, especially as Smokey gave me a fright yesterday when I heard a squawking, went out and found what looked like a very dead Smokey, half under the ramp to get into the house. I thought Dopey must have dropped the ramp on her and squashed her. But when I lifted the ramp, she came out, which was a HUGE relief. So when I go out later, I will banish Dopey to the rabbit hutch and shut the other two in the run, so they have to acclimatise themselves.

Given how scared of Dopey they are, I am SO glad I got 2 chickens - 1 would have been a disaster as it would never have been able to stick up for itself.