Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bedtime Banties and the Dawn Patrol

Eggs - Total to date: 301 - Day 133

KoKKo 100 (86grms) 29.11.2005 Personal best weight
Adelaide 100 (80grms) 26.02.2006 Personal best weight
Ginger 101 (78grms) 22.2.2006 Personal best weight

Just after 7pm when it was pitch black dark here in Norfolk, tipping it down with cold torrential rain, I went out with my torch to put the lovely London Ladies to bed.

Dilly and Freckles were roosting on the perch and looked just about ready for bed. They looked quite happy where they were chatting away to each other, but at this stage in their integration it is best to tuck them up in bed with the Norfolk Carrot Crunchers.

For some reason Pumpkin was stil up and about, shuffling, and scratching about in the run.

I quietly chatted to them, and Pumpkin came to me and let me pick her up. I was rather pleased about that for two reasons.

(a) I could never ever get through the run door, and now that it is 3 metres long, if I could there was no way that I would want to slither along on my tummy like a sidewinder snake trying to catch a chicken that decided not to go to bed. And more so because I was soaking wet and cold and very tired after being awake since 2am.

(b) Pumpkin, the Buff Bantam, was the one that didn't let me pick her up on the first afternoon - although I have picked her up quite a bit since and we have had some heart to heart conversations. But to come to me willingly to be picked up and put to bed gave me an enormous feeling of achievement and pleasure.

I did as promised and cuddled her and gave her a kiss from her family in London. When I put her in with Adelaide, KoKKo and Ginger, there were no complaints at all.

I then went and had a little chat to Dilly before lifting hwe off the perch - you can see that she was actually interested in what I had to say, but Freckles, just wanted the lights out and to get some sleep.

So three times I walked the walk, getting wetter and wetter, with a bantam tucked in my mack to keep it dry, and put it to bed with the others. Then I did one more trip with the torch to see how they were in the Eglu and they were all snuggled up with the others - not a cluck of protest.

Just the locking up and putting away of food and water containers to do, and back in the warm for me.

Patrick said that he had never seen me looking so tired and shattered before. -I am sure that he must have!

Today I didn't let them out until dawn, at 5.45am. Another wet day, but it had stopped raining although everything is dripping wet. I could hear the usual morning noises coming from the Eglu so they were all awake and ready to get up. Adelaide and the other two are used to being able to get up when they want and do not like the bedroom door closed - in case they need to do a comfort stop I guess, so I let them out, and hung up three feeders.

Out they came in a lazy walk again, instead of their usual rush - it seems that they are taking up some of the habits of the London Ladies. Off out of the run for their dawn Patrol - another new habit, they used to mob me and dive on their breakfast - looks like they have learned a bit of decorum too from Dilly, Freckles and Pumpkin.

They walked around the pen, having that wonderful first stretch of the day - nice doing that isn't it, and you can see they enjoy it too.

They pecked some raindrops running down the plastic run covers and scratched about looking for worms.

I stood there waiting with bated breath again for the fashion models to make an apprearence. They certainly know how to make an entrance. It seemed like a long time, but it must have only been a couple of minutes before they did their ususal sashay down the run, as though they were walking down a catwalk. Not a feather out of place. Pumpkin characteristically did her usual little Ginger Rogers happy soft shoe shuffle. And they all just scratched casually around for a bit, before having a drink of warm water, and sauntering over for breakfast.

They looked for all the world that they have lived here all their lives and were not the slightest bit nervous or worried about anything. I stood there for 10 minutes watching them all, and they were two happy sets of triplets doing their own thing. So that is how I left them. All eating breakfast from their respective feeders, and very happy and contented without any animosity to each other- just doing what chickens do without a care in the world.

Freckles was standing in the doorway of the run discussing with the other two whether or not to go fot a constitutional walk in their 'woods' which is what the hedge must look like in their little eyes.

Still early days yet, but I couldn't have wished for a better introduction so far. Just six little feathers yesterday on the floor from Dilly - where it looked like she pushed her luck and ate from a feeder that belonged to the triplets. When I picked her up to see if she was alright, I gave her a thorough examination but couldn't for the life of me find where those feathers had been plucked from!

And as Pat said, I am assuming that one of the big girls was to blame, it might have been one of the other banties. After all, they must have had a pecking order, and we don't know what that was.

I might leave them all morning before checking up on the egg situation. I ended up spending most of the day yesterday, in and out their pen, making additional hides and improving the two I had made the night before. Adding hidden feeding and water stations, and generally keeping an eye on things.

I need a bit of a rest before physio anyway - I think I will be in for a bit of a lecture - but it will be worth it.

10am Update

All quiet and happy on the Chicken Run front. The London Ladies are in the woods, at the moment all chatting away in one corner - I can see this becoming their favourite and all the effort I put into building the rest a total waste of a few hours! freckles has taken up residence in the big flower pot on it's side with straw it. It is so big the others might be in there too. I moved a branch to peek and she made me jump and went a my hand like a hammer drill - didn't hurt me, but it would scare Norfolk Lasses to bits.

No stray feathers, shrieks or squawks so they seem to have settled into their own routines.

I am very pround of Adelaide, KoKKo and Ginger today, they have now laid 100 eggs each!

4.30pm Update

When I came back from physio and we sat having lunch looking out onto the chicken pen, it was lovely to see that the London Ladies were out and about by the hedge scratching about looking for worms - mirroring the Norfolk Lasses doing the same thing but on a bigger scale by the pen gate. They all looked really happy scratching away in the sunshine. I couldn't rush out and take a photo as Adelaide & Co usually stop what they are doing and rush to see what I might have in my hand - so we just ate lunch watching them.

A little later I saw the London girls scoot into the hedge as Ginger went down there. I thought that she was after them as she was rummaging around near where they disappeared - but later I was to find that I had totally misjudged her - she was searching for a way into the wooden house to lay an egg.

Dilly, Freckles and Pumpkin have a favourite hide - the flower pot turned on its side, so I have bought two more pots - bigger green ones and plastic too. So I have spent the entire afternoon dismantling the whole hedge, getting rid of the wooden box hutch type house, and installing the new green hides, and re-planting the whole hedge again.

There are now three hides hidden away each with straw linings and water and food. All at different angles, so they will be nice and dry. The hedge will be virtually inpenetrable by the Norfolk lasses, but a warren of alleys for the bantams. I also dismantled the covered dust bath and removed one of the roof panels, which now covers their favourite corner and hide from back to front so it will be totally dry, windproof, and snow proof, and the big girls will not even be able to peek in - and that includes me!

I know that I probably sound mad, doing all this, but I think it is worth it to provide the very living conditions possible for happy healthy hens.

Up the other end I have got rid of the hide altogether as the little ones didn't use it, so there is lots more space.

I am beginning to feel a tab bit sorry for the Ginger, KoKKo and Adelaide, as it was clear this afternoon, and especially this time of night that they want to go into the run, ready for roosting - but the London Ladies are swanning around in there, scratching about, eating supper and pecking the greens as if they own the place. The other three have all the same facilities outside, but they look a bit upset at being locked out. They will go around the back and get in the Eglu through the side port to roost, but it is not the same.

By the weekend they will be able to go in and out through the run I am sure.


  1. 100 eggs in how many days?

  2. Actually it is 101 now - Ginger laid an egg in one of the hides this afternoon.

    So they have laid 301 in 133 days, in the winter months with terrible weather and short daylight hours.

    I think that I must be doing something right!


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