New eggwegs on the way & trying to convince Tony free range chicks will be a good addition to the family ;o)

Tomorrow I am having some eggs sent to me, 2 x Jersey Giants poss 3 if another is laid today. The white or light eggs from black or Buff Orpington x Brhama (very big birds). Gold Brahma Orpington Barnvelder, Cream Legbar or hybred, pure Buff Orpington egg. I was hoping for a couple of French Marans, however they are not laying at the moment. Tony & Ania, you would love this birds, they lay deep chocolate eggs, they would blend well with your french life style. You need chickens, Tony, fresh organic eggs for your Gite guest, try and convince him Ania, Evie and Alex. We could even bring the eggs over to incubate, subject to custom regulations. I love my chickens ;o)

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The girls, Henrietta & Ken decided to stay up to watch Duane finish the exterior of the n’ Tucky villa. Just the perches to install tomorrow after Duane picks up the brooding heat lamp and chick feeders. You cannot see the great ramp he has made, they girls have practiced walking up and down successfully. Ken decided he wanted to have a look in. The pictures will follow shortly. I love my chickens and Duane xx ;o).

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The Hen House from Conception to Birth

I knew we would need another Chicken Coop that would enable the chickens to have lots more room in the coop and still give them full run of their best part of the garden to grub about in safely when we are not in. It would also make sure that some of the grass would be protected from chicken poo. I have the discussion with hubby Duane about a new coop, he agrees, as he loves an excuse to get out the power tools and be creative. We both disregarded ready made ones as they looked OK on display however did not seem to offer to much for the chickens.
I had spent hours looking at various designs, researching the pitfalls of different designs and what features benefited the chickens. needless to say I bombarded Duane with these and had numerous discussions about the pros and cons of them. all. I wanted to convert the green house, Duane did not think this would work as the structure was to weak. I agreed and may use it as brooder/halfway house or hospital at some stage. I then wanted an Ark, very easy to build and can be moved around the garden. I knew this would be an easy build for me. Duane wanted a chicken coop on stilts. So we agreed that a chicken coop would be the immediate priority and I would design and build my Ark at my leisure.
As I was on leave from work it gave me the opportunity to visit the buildings merchants DIY stores and e-bay for for Meta posts tanalised wood etc and do my price comparisons. It never ceases to amaze me the manner in which stores, store wood. As is often the case we have to sort through the wood to find some that is not warped. I know it doesn’t matter how much wood we buy, Duane will return for some more.
We have long ago come to the conclusion that this is the way our minds see and manage things, I see the completed project and will buy and build accordingly, which usually presents to an outsider as absolute chaos and many things going on at once. Duane works and manages in steps. It works well as we have a system to incorporate both of our styles. Although there is the occasional blips. Such as with the height of the nesting boxes in the coop. Soon resolved by Duane doing a dropped rear door so that me and the grandchildren to be able to access the eggs.
Same with the ramp for the chickens to get into he coop. In my mind I knew the ramp would need to have an angle that that the chickens could manage with ease. Again soon sorted, Duane made a two part ramp which Ken done a test drive on and appeared satisfied. Henrietta ,when testing the initial ramp, reminded me of when I had to try and ski down whistler mountain and lacked the ability to do so efficiently. I think the ramp may be called Henrietta’s slide.
The build has gone very well. Day one, was when Duane knocked in the 3ft deep Meta post and put the 3″ by 3 uprights in. With our heavy soil and the depth of the posts mean these are not going to move. Next was the framework, all done without from Duane’s design. This was soon followed by the internal walls and then the installation and outer walls. Much of the work was undertaken by Duane in the rain. We had an interesting discussion about the roofing, felt and bitumen was the easy application, however this has a tendency to allow red mite to hide, so we agreed on Onduline corrugated roofing. Next was the nesting boxes and dividers, the drop down feature is excellent.
David worked for his dinner when he came over, he loves our chickens and was able to entice them all to eat corn from his hand. The power tools were also a pull for him. He had a glint in his eye when he had the Paslode nail gun in his hand, I left them both to it and carried on doing the finishing touches to the dinner. Both he and Duane manged to secure the roof safely with the help of some decent red wine.
The final touches to the build of coop are taken place today. This will be temporary pop door (Duane is going to fit an automatic one, when he makes the circuit board etc.) He also intends to put in a wireless web cam eventually. He is making off the roosting bars in different sizes and shapes to accommodate most discerning hen. I am hopeful that the coop will be spray painted tonight so that the chickens can take up residence on Wednesday. This is when I intend to pick up a a POL Gold Lace Orpington and a white Silkie or Sultan. If they all go into the coop together, the pecking order will likely change to Bruno’s advantage (hopefully). The next bit is to name the coop in n’ Tuckeys memory. He is buried near the the coop, I may make the hen house plaque. It is a good build, well done Duane xx. I love my chickens (and Duane :o)

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The babies Barbie Q & Bruno ‘Chilling out’

As always,these two are never apart. Most of the photographs I take of them together make them look like Siamese twins, if they are sunbathing, Bruno tends to be snuggled up under Barbie Q. I think Barbie Q is going to be a great Mum, even though I still think she may be a cockerel.

Of interest is Heidi (not Granddaughter Heidi,) our blue cream Persian exotic girl, has always been an aloof cat to anyone, other than Hubby Duane, whom she adores has taken a liking to Barbie Q. Not in a way the makes us think she wants her for breakfast. Heidi will patrol the perimeter of the enclosure and if Barbie Q, is nestling near the fence with Bruno, Heidi will often nuzzle up close to the fence and do a nose to nose with Barbie Q.

Heidi will also sit and watch ‘the babies’ as we call them, then patrol the garden and make sure the babies are safe in bed of the night time. Heidi then waits with us until Ken, and Henrietta, are also safely in bed for the night, and the coop, run and enclosure are safely closed and locked for the night. First thing in the morning, Heidi is ready for duty, and will be up and out with me before she has breakfast herself, the chickens do not know how lucky they are having there very own patrol guard cat.

Heidi also goes into the run has a drink of the water and check the babies are in bed by looking in the coop. Maybe this is why she never minds sharing her food with ‘the girls‘ as they always come into the house in the evening to have a snack of cat food and peck up anything of interest on the kitchen floor. This must rate as one of the best excuse ever, for not sweeping the kitchen floor, I can say with full commitment, ‘I need to leave it for the girls’. Back to chicken guard cat Heidi, she is also is up early in the morning with me to feed and let out ‘the girls’ before having her own breakfast. Lester, our self red exotic (looks like Garfield) will watch the chickens from afar and does not ‘do mornings’ and will run away if ‘the girls’ get to close to him. No stereo typing of the male ego with ‘our Lester’ I love my chickens :o)

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Bruno not looking her best

Nobody has told Bruno that her feathers are not waterproof. He remains a hysterical little girl at times, and continually relies on Barbie-Q the little Silkie for reassurance.

As soon as Henrietta, (OK she does bully her given the chance) or Ken go near her she runs around squawking just as I imagine a headless chicken would do. However there is no doubting her flying and climbing abilities when she believes she is under threat, which she believes is 60% of the time. Ken never bothers her and Barbie Q protects her from her own shadow.
Bruno’s typical day is as follows: I open the Eglu between, 05.30-06.00 in the morning, Bruno is always found to be sleeping in the nest box and is the last one out following Barbie Q. More often than not, I will lift him out of the coop, give him a stroke and fuss, then carry him out to the enclosure and place him in the nesting box within the compost bin coop. Bruno is then joined by Barbie, they both forage about within the enclosure. If one of us is about, they are allowed out of the enclosure. Bruno does not leave Barbie Q’s sight unless it is to run, climb or fly away when startled. At these times she will head towards the Eglu coop.

When she is not fleeing her own and others shadows she will be in the nest box or snuggle under Barbie Q. Her other favourite past time is sunbathing. Maybe she thinks she is still a chick and suffering from separation anxiety. Duane believes her demeanour is because she is the only white chicken. The grandchildren, Jack, Emily and Annabell believe it is because she is the ‘baby’ and gets scared easily and needs to be protected. Heidi moo, our youngest granddaughter, looks ,says ‘chickens’ and then points, giggles and laughs at her.

After spending the day, fleeing, flying foraging, sleeping and sunbathing, Bruno will make her way back to the coop, she goes to bed early, usually by 18.00. Barbie Q has to go in with her and will sit with her until she settles. If Barbie Q decides she wants to slip out for a quick drink or bite to eat when she is on ‘guard duty’ Bruno will squawk her displeasure.

Then comes the moment that I guess Bruno probably hates most, Henrietta, going to bed. This remains a supervised activity. Ken will enter the run and coop, pop his head through the door, step in, take his position and settle. Not so with Henrietta, everyone has to know she is not happy with Bruno and rules the roost. She will be the last one to go to bed, choosing to have last minute feasts before going in and out of the run (just to see if we are watching I think). Then she clucks and chicken moans with disapproval before putting her head into the coop. I think this is chicken psychological warfare. This is repeated a few times before she enters the coop, once inside there is a bit of moving about and much continued moaning from Henrietta. I will open the hatch to check she is not having a surreptitious peck at Bruno. Time out for her if she is caught doing this (More on Henrietta in another blog) . The chickens all move about to allow Henrietta to have whatever is her chosen place and within minutes they have settled.

It always reminds me of when the children would have sleep overs and you would have to go and ‘have words’ and wait at the bottom of the stairs and listen to ensure they are settling. Needless to say in the morning, Bruno has the prized position is always snuggled in the nesting box in the morning. So starts another day in the life of Bruno. One of the positive aspects of Bruno’s demeanor is that a solution may be to by a white Silkie or another Sultan. To date, I am not sure if my Silkie eggs are going to hatch. That is another blog….

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Barbie-Q on the way home

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Dear Theresa

I love seeing your birthday chickens I will watch then grow
love you mum xxxxxx

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Dear Theresa

I love seeing your birthday chickens I will watch then grow
love you mum xxxxxx

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My Birthday Chickens ;o)

I had already had early Birthday presents with my Eglu and incubator. However, Duane and I thought it may be nice to get me a chicken for my Birthday, this was not as a replacement for our recently deceased n-Tucky. I had checked out a couple of silkie chicken breeders on line and decided to visit Chris Sander of with a view to buying a gold POL silky. So on my birthday morning we drove over there, complete with cat basket and eventually found the farm. What a fantastic place it was, Chris and his partner breed rare breed sheep, and hens which they took the trouble to introduce us to. We also met the pet pig who preferred rest to company that particular morning.

Getting back to the Birthday chicken, well as soon as we went into the barn we were surrounded by the most beautiful variety of chicks. We had already decided that we wanted a gold Silky and Chris picked her up for me to give a her a cuddle. I also saw the most funniest Sultan chicken, who just had to come along as a companion to the Silky. Just as we were about to go we met the rabbits, knowing how much the grandchildren and daughter love rabbits, we just had to buy Sergeant Bum Fluff, a handsome Lion Head rabbit.

We had already decided that our next chicken was going to be called Barbie-Q (Duane’s idea), by this time I had already got her out of the cage and onto my lap for a fuss in the back of the car. Bruno was the name we gave to our sultan chick, it was nearly going to be Shirley after my Mum, however watching the way he half wiggled and strutted reminded me of the Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Bruno, so yet again I gave a hen a male name. My Mum had a quick sneak preview of them on the way back home.

Once we got the Birthday chicks home we let them have a walk about in the lounge. This is when we agreed with Chris’s view that Bruno was not the sharpest knife in the block. He spotted his reflection in the mirror in the lounge and was postulating in front of it, seemingly thinking it was another chicken! Heidi and Lester, the cats did not seem to be fussed about the new arrivals. I gave Bruno a shampoo and blow dry. I was only going to do his lovely feathered feet at first, however as he appeared to not raise any objections to water, so he had the full works. They then met all the grand children and family that had come to share the day. Needless to say they all thought they were great.

Next was the introduction to Henrietta and Kendra. Duane had fenced off a separate area which Henrietta and Kendra had been placed into much to their annoyance, as the plan was for Bruno and Barbie-Q to go into Eglu. Henrietta and Kendra appeared to be more cross that they were not full free ranging rather than being overly disturbed by new arrivals. So we allowed them back out, they did briefly chase and peck Bruno and Barbie-Q, however this was very short lived and the latter decide to go to bed early in the Eglu coop. Henrietta and Kendra also wanted to sleep in the Eglu that night so we watched and waited until they put themselves to bed, and much to our surprise there was no fighting. We went out there a couple of times to see if they were all OK and they were all snuggled up to each other.

The following morning they were all desperate for the door to be opened to get out, Henrietta and Kendra went foraging and we moved Bruno and Barbie -Q into the big pen, complete with a new compost bin converted into a shelter for them. I realised I may have over done the precautionary red mite powder when I saw Bruno fluff his feather amidst a cloud of powder. The pair of them were inseparable in the pen, and for some reason, Heidi, one of our Exotic Persian cats seems to have taken a likening to Barbie-Q and goes up to the fence, Barbie-Q responds in kind, so it is nose to beak at the fence. Watching Bruno walk on grass can only be described as a cross between a crazy bird goose stepping and doing a move from The Matrix film.

All to soon it was time for bed, we opened the pen and the newbies went straight to bed, followed by Kendra, although he did briefly chase Barbie -Q out of the coop. Henrietta waited so long before she would go into the coop and clucked (moaned) continually for at least an hour before she went in. Yet again, they all settled well and continued to do so each time we checked. We will still keep them separate during the day time tomorrow and see how they go. I love my chickens ;o)

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Incubation of Silkie Eggs
I purchase 6 mixed Silkie eggs from e-bay, unfortunately there was a slight delay in the delivery. I set them for twelve hours and bought them up to room temperature before putting them in my incubator. we numbered them and put the O & X on each side of the eggs so we were aware of the turning sequences. We did name on n’Tuckey. I did candle them before putting them in and continued to turn 5+ times daily. Duane sorted the temperature and placed an internal/ external digital temperature device to ensure accuracy. The set up is is in our den, the continued switching on an off of the light (which regulates the heat) did not prove to be distracting. I sorted the humidity and if I have worked it right I will not have to add water until the chicks hopefully stat peeping from day 19 onwards. I will then increase the humidity with warm water, possibly on a sponge or in the well.

Day 5 showed one very porous egg when candled, it did not appear to be fertile. Unfortunately this was the one Duane had called n’ Tuckey. I had to resist the temptation to swop it for one that did look fertile. We decided n’Tuckey egg could stay in the incubator in case a miracle happened.

Day 10 was not a lucky day for egg #6. I dropped it whilst turning it. I knew I was tired and feeling clumsy, so had already made the decision not to candle until the evening. So all that I needed to do was rotate the eggs from the X to O sides. my and and brain were clearly not in sycn, as I managed to lift the egg out of the incubator and drop it on the floor. The developing embryo could not be saved, so was quickly swooped up complete with shell and yolk and dispatched to the loo, along with a quick prayer. I then had to clear up the remaining mess which had manage to splash onto Duane’s Ed Hardy shoes and computer case. I spoke my guilt to the remaining eggs and turned them extra carefully. The remainder of the eggs looked appropriately dark when candled although only one was seen by me to be actively moving.

Day 17 I candled the eggs with two of the Grandchildren, Jack and Emily, there appeared to be movement in one of eggs, the others seemed quite still so may have died. The children loved watching chickens hatch on U tube and learning about a chicks development.

Day 18 I have put special mat in the incubator in preparation for ‘the hatch’ This is to help the chicks grip ad prevent splayed legs. OK, the mat is one that Duane agreed to give me from his car dashboard. it is the woven type things that stop things sliding about, so my logic is, the weave of the mat will work for the chicks. Both Duane and I have spoken to the eggs before I closed of the incubator. It can not be opened until the peeps start peeping. Duane and I peep at the eggs occasionally whilst we are waiting, I am taking leave so that I can be at home, if, and when they peep.

Day 19 No news or signs of anything yet. I have my next batch of mixed eggs on order. I did look up about sexing chick on google, so that I could be be aware if I have any potential cockerels in the hatch. A piece of advice, do not google sexing chicks. As this blog may be read by children I will not elaborate on the multitude of variations this search activated. I love my chickens :0)

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