Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year, New Coop!

I've finally decided on, and ordered my new coop!

It's being built especially for them by a very talented local craftsman and should be ready in about a week.  I spent an hour today with Andrew (the craftsman), discussing nest boxes, perches and 'added extras'!

I then have to paint it as I want specific colours, so I expect I can add another three weeks onto that...(I am hoping to enlist eldest daughter's help to speed this particular process up ;) )

I will reveal it to you all when it's finished and the ladies have moved in. I am super stoked about it!

Until then I wish you, your families & animals (especially chickens), a very happy new year.

Much love,

Rachel, Mabel, Betty, Pearl, Bridie & Violet xxxxx


Monday, 24 December 2012

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

xx Hattie xx


My little Hattie is not improving.

She now spends some time in her 'hammock' to give her legs freedom to move and exercise.  Her paralysis is such that she is unable to balance herself to walk or sit, and her appetite has all but diminished.

Hattie in her chicken 'hammock' invention, courtesy of 'Scratch & Peck's' Lauren Scheuer. 

We have another appointment at the vets, I am dreading it.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Hattie has it.  I am devastated.

One of her wings is paralysed and the toes on her left legs have lost movement and that same leg is noticeably weaker than the other.

The combined effect of these two things has changed her stance. To counterbalance her weight she stands, as my vet described it, like a peacock, with her bottom in the air.

She walks slowly, and on a slight angle.  When she sits, her left leg sticks out in front of her.  She has good days and not so good days, but she is feisty and fighting, interested in life and not in pain.

She is allowed out to free range still, but only when my other girls are put in their run, otherwise she is in the house.

She is being given a steroid injection weekly, to lessen the effects of the disease whilst I am giving her Hypericum.  She has one tablet, twice a day in a tablespoon amount of distilled water.  I have read that it has been used successfully against Marek's.  I will try anything that could possibly help.

I KNOW that it is possible to survive Marek's, so we will keep on going.  
She is not in pain and as long as she is not, we will keep going.

I just want my little hen to get better x


Monday, 29 October 2012

Saturday, 27 October 2012


Hattie seems to be on the lane to recovery.  I say lane rather than road, as road would suggest fast progress.

Her eye is less squinty but still not fully open.  Her eating is returning to normal and she is more active than she was.  All brilliant news!

So today she was allowed out in the garden with the other gals, to catch the last of the Autumnal sun, and that's when I spotted it.

Just look at that wing!

What on earth is it doing dragging along the floor?!!

I have absolutely no idea what she's done to it.  I can't imagine she's broken it, she's been a house chicken pretty much since we've had her.  There's been no scuffles with my other gals.  Gahhh!!!!

Apparently, according to the web, sometimes they can drag a wing for a number of reasons, after a couple of days it returns to normal, so we shall see.
I have secured her wing in 'Vet Wrap'.  Seeing it dragging along the floor, getting in the way didn't seem to be helping her much and if it is broken, it needs to be secured into as near as normal position to aid healing. 
I had to nip out to our local pet shop, they only had a bone design, she'll have to pretend it's her Hallowe'en outfit :)

Trick Or Treat!
It was a little disconcerting for her at first and I quickly discovered that you have to secure both wings, not just one! Leaving one free left her off balance, panicking and falling around the room like she'd been at the apple cider a bit too much.  Fortunately, with both wings wrapped, she soon got the hang of it and has discovered that a poorly gal can take liberties!

Your slippers?

We'll be back to the vets on Monday to get it checked out, I need to go anyway.  The 'Drop-On' mite killer they gave me in a syringe got a bit stuck and I manage to squirt all of the 20mls over Hattie and the sofa instead of 10mls just on Hattie.  

This chicken lark, it ain't always easy!


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Poorly Hattie.

Hattie had been fine in the week since we bought her, a picture of chocolate health. Then I noticed she was squinting with her left eye.  I thought maybe one of the others had landed a well aimed peck, or she had something in her eye.   A check showed nothing, maybe something had been in there but had gone and leaving it feeling a bit sore.

The next day it was more closed than squinting.  No swelling, redness, no pus nothing, just the half closed eye. I couldn't think of any reason for it, so we went to the vets.

Hattie was a very good traveller, not too much fussing at all, just some enquiring clucks as to where we were and peering out of the door.  The vet gave Hattie a shot of all-round antibiotics as her temperature was slightly up and also to deal with the possibility of a respiratory infection, as eye problems can be linked to that.  We set off home with another appointment booked for a second shot in 4 days.

She didn't improve.  We went back for the second shot and after that she just seemed to slowly get worse.  She was withdrawn and sad and had moved onto scratching at her face.  So we went back again.
The vet was very good, chickens are always treated with as much importance as a dog or cat at our surgery and this particular vet has chickens of his own. 

We discussed what had happened since our last visit, and he decided to take a skin scraping.  He appeared two minutes later carrying a microscope, skin mites!   A definite cause for irritation of the face, scratching and general miserableness.  He administered a drop-on mite killer on the back of her neck and gave me a second and third dose to be given in 10 days and then 10 days after that.

Off home we went again, hoping this was it.  

But no, Hattie continued to get worse.  I could no longer leave her outside with the other girls as they pecked at her a little as she was still the 'new gal' but she no longer had the energy to move away.  She sat, feathers fluffed, under the hydrangea.

Both eyes were having trouble staying open and now it seemed she was having trouble eating.  Food would hang out of the left side of her mouth and she simply did not realise it was there. Her poop had changed, it was watery and green, a sign that bile was building up as she was not getting enough food through her system. 

There was no shadow following me into the kitchen for treats, just a sad and dejected fluff of feathers sat in the living room.  When she moved it was with weakened, uncertain steps.  I was desperately worried we were losing her.

We went back to the vet, Hattie just slept in her basket.

The vet was sad to see us, he was despairing over what was wrong with her. A stroke?  Allergic reaction to the drop on?  He'd tried everything he could think of.  

We had the talk,you know the one, the one no pet owner wants to have.  I assured him if I thought her suffering too much, I would do the right thing but that time was not yet.

He said he would be willing to refer me to a specialist Avian Vet, it would be very expensive but before he did, he had one last idea, his very last.  Steroids.

I was willing to try anything.  So Hattie had her shot of steroids.  It can produce miraculous results, or it can produce nothing.  He didn't know which it would be but with a 50/50 chance, it was worth a shot.  We left with the instruction to ring and let him know how she was two days later.

Cuddles for a poorly gal

And here we are, two days later and I have rung the vet and told him she is showing signs of feeling better.  

Not recovered, no, but better.  She is more active, following me into the kitchen for treats and managing to eat some.  More wandering around, less sleeping fluff ball.  She has even been in the garden with the girls and tried to dust bath.  She has missed that, I know as she tried to dust bathe in the rug.  She's not strong enough to roll and throw mud on herself but the cool mud between her toes feels good.

Hattie in the kitchen, waiting for treats
I don't know what is wrong and neither does my vet.  No amount of searching on the internet offered any suggestions for her ailments.  Another visit to the vet is in order and maybe another lot of steroids.

I just have my fingers and toes crossed she keeps improving x


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Chocolate Chicken!

We have a new arrival!

And there's something different about her compared to my other ladies...

...featherless feet!

She is a Chocolate Orpington bantam, all my other ladies are Pekins.
I have always liked Orpingtons but they are Large Fowl and too humungous for my garden, so I thought I'd take a gamble with a bantam version and see just how bantam she is.  She is already bigger than my largest Pekin!  She's five months old, so I'm unlikely to get any eggs from her until next Spring but I'm looking forward to those brown eggs!

She is currently nameless but an 'old lady' name is mandatory.   In the meantime, she is settling in well :)

P.S We've named her Hattie.  Like Hattie Jacques, she is a buxom brunette!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Chicken Coop for the soul

I absolutely adore this coop.

If I could have any coop I wanted, money no option, this would be the one.  Not only is it adorable, it's roomy for my five girls and can be moved around the garden.  Isn't it just gorgeous! 
Flyte So Fancy make beautiful, excellent quality coops, I am hoping to purchase one of their coops for my girls next year :D

The link for it, so you can drool further if you like:

Their website is jam-packed with everything a chicken keeper could want too!

My husband likes our coop.  While it might not be as pretty as the one above it does blend into the garden well, and he likes that.

Can you spot it?


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Jim Shore/Heartwood Creek Chickens

I bought this on Holiday in Wales:

It's a Jim Shore/Heartwood Creek sculpture called 'Spring Chicken'.  I think it's a bit fab, and now I want this!

It's probably not going to stop there...


Monday, 30 July 2012

British Hen Welfare Trust

The British Hen Welfare Trust, as well as being a fantastically worthwhile organisation, also has a page on veterinary assistance for hens. After my recent blogging about our visits with the vet, I thought I'd include a link.  The work the trust does is absolutely brilliant, so if you have five minutes have a look through their site x

Battery hen farming is VILE and these girls deserve all the help they can get.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Bumble Foot - part 2

The vet's appointment was very productive.

I bundled Betty & Mabel into their wicker carrier and headed off to our appointment. The receptionist wasn't sure what bumble foot was.  As popular as backyard chicken keeping currently is in the UK, hens are not a regular at veterinary clinics and consultations are often an amalgamation of chicken keeper experience and veterinary knowledge.

The vet was very receptive to my internet babble, as she looked at the girls' feet.  Betty's black plug was more raised than Mabel's, rather like a scab on your knee when it's ready to come off, raised and puffy.  When she pulled it off there was, as text books would have it, cheesy cream-like pus and blood.

She said that Betty's feet seemed worse but Mabel was the one who was limping.  Bet's other foot and both of Mabel's were not as forthcoming, so the vet left them and suggested I remove them at home. 

As bumble foot is a bacterial infection (it seems to involve bacteria that live quite normally on the outside of the foot which get inside through a cut or damaged foot) the girls had antibiotic injections and an antiseptic wash to be used twice a day.  Mabel also had some pain killers, to be administered orally (fun!) as she was obviously finding one of her feet quite sore to walk on.

The girls behaved themselves, mostly.  Betty lay down on the table and considered a nap, Mabel stared at her surroundings and tried to eat the needle as the vet injected her. She has been labeled 'feisty' by the vet and I'm sure they've marked her card 'trouble maker' for future reference.

When we arrived home, I settled down to remove the remaining plugs.  I didn't use a blade, I donned gloves and eased the edge of the plugs up and pulled them off.  I was surprised to discover that one of Mabel's and the remaining one of Bet's had no hole or pus under it.  Mabel's other one bled but no gloop came out.  I am totally confused about whether this is a good or a bad sign.

Mabel's foot the day after the vet's visit.
Minus black plug and three antiseptic washes under our belts.
All four feet were cleaned with the antiseptic wash and washed with water after 10 minutes.  This is repeated twice a day.  We're back to the vets on Friday for another antibiotic injection.

My preferred chicken grappling position for foot cleaning.
And in case you're wondering, the oral pain killers took over 5 minutes to administer and I ended up wearing quite a lot of it.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Bumble Foot!

Gaahh, I can't believe it!  I've never had to deal with it before, I secretly hoped I wouldn't have to. 

Mabel AND Betty have, what looks to be the early stages of bumble foot.  I'm devastated.  There are many horror stories of how to deal with it yourself on the net, none of which I fancy undertaking, so I'm off to the vets tomorrow to see what they have to say.  Obviously if it comes to the crunch, then I will do what I have to but I won't be looking forward to it!

Bet has been a little off colour of late, I had thought it was due to her early moult but then I noticed that Lucy was attacking Mabel's head.  Mabel is at the top of the pecking order and Lucy at the bottom, so I knew something was a foot but I didn't think it would be literally!  

I had a quick check of Mabel, as chickens will attack sick of injured flock mates. She was a little bit not herself as she has just been broody but otherwise she seemed to be in good health.  I was puzzled somewhat until I noticed her slightly limping and checked her feet.

Mabel's bumble foot.  Notice the tell tale black 'plug' on the pad of her foot.
(Excuse Mabel's soggy undercarriage.  She'd been cooling off in a bath, it's very hot in the UK at the moment!)

Bumble foot, on BOTH feet!  When I checked the others I found out Betty has it also, again on both feet.

I have no idea what could have caused it.  Rough perches, impact damage from jumping from high places (unlikely with these two) hurting their feet on something sharp or rough.  None of these issues spring to mind, the perches are smooth, they don't leave the ground hardly at all, the garden is safe and well tended for the girls.  Both feet, on both of them, I mean it's not like it's catching.  I am at a loss.

I will keep you updated on their hopefully non-invasive treatment and progress x


Monday, 18 June 2012

We went to a chicken show.

My eldest daughter and I visited the world of chicken shows. There were LOTS of chickens, all different shapes, sizes & colours.

The bantam section.  There we're some lovelies here!

Eldest daughter liked these!

Large fowl dept.  She was VERY large!

A not happy Buff Orpington.

We had a brilliant day out.  It makes you realise just how many different breeds of chickens there actually are, especially when you just have one breed at home.  We spent ages wandering through the show looking into all the pens at the huge amount of birds on show.

And then there was this pen...

...and this happened!

I had no intention of buying another chicken at the show but she was absolutely gorgeous, a show quality (hopefully!) white Pekin hen.  We were completely unprepared and I had go and find a stall selling carrier boxes,food and a water bowl.  Such novices!
We did, however, name her almost immediately.  She is called Bridie.

We're hoping to attend a show with her. She has a bit of growing to do yet, this will give me time to find a low key, novice friendly show and learn about show preparation.  It's all very exciting! :)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Happy Birthday!

It's been just over a year since I started keeping chickens again and also most of my girls are having their first birthday around now.  Happy birthday us :D


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Breaking Broodiness!

At last, I have discovered a system to stop my broodies in their tracks!

My secret weapons are these:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

My plan was to keep the offending hen away from the coop & nest boxes at all costs.  Exhibit A is for daytime, Exhibit B for night time in the house.  Their annoyance at being contained in such a manner ensures broodiness is quite quickly forgotten.  Four days in the anti-broody pens seems to do the trick.

I'm very pleased not to have to suffer four weeks plus of a grumpy nest-hogger! :D


Monday, 4 June 2012

I KNOW you have mealworms in there!



The first time I saw Pearl she was huddled in a pet carrier with Lucy.  When we arrived home I popped them both out in a pen away from the rest of the flock for their quarrantine period.

All she did was run around like a loony, squawking.

I wasn't sure about her at first, she was so loud and flighty.  Luckily she calmed down after a day and has turned out to be a lovely, friendly little hen.  I say little as she is the smallest hen I have, small even for a Pekin!  She has a bit of feathering out to do, especially on her feet.  Somehow due to the lack of foot plumage, when she runs she looks like a clockwork toy.  

Pearl is a Silver Partridge Pekin, lighter than the show standard.  She looks like she's been put through the hot wash!

Show standard Silver Partridge Pekin
Pearl standard Silver Partridge Pekin!

We were just getting to know her, as she is very cute, but then THIS happened!

ANOTHER broody hen!  She's only been in lay for three weeks!!!

That's two of them now, it would have been three but Lucy gave up after two days, thank gawd!!!


Sunday, 27 May 2012


Bridy is just growing back her bottom feathers.  Without her big bustle bottom, her leg & feet feathers are really apparent!!! 


Friday, 25 May 2012

"When I was a chick..."

Those old stories, no matter how interesting, get boring after the 50th time.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Freshly dug flower beds.

Can you tell?

I've also just repositioned that tall plant.  They look like they're having an in depth discussion about its placement!


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Opening the nest boxes.

Oops! I forgot to post this ages ago.  Better late than never! :D

Betty & Mabel had been at point of lay and considering Mabel's urge to announce her egg songs, I thought I'd probably better open the nest boxes.

I had read that they should be blocked off until point of lay so that the hens didn't sleep and poo in them.  I would imagine pooey eggs are not particularly appetising.

I checked where my girls were.  They have the upmost curiosity when I am doing anything around the coop, and unsurprisingly are not particularly helpful.

I found them in the newly planted (and newly eaten, pesky rabbit!) border.

Yes, I CAN see you!

By the time I had opened the door to the nest boxes I found them here:

That particular manovere took about 10 seconds.

I escorted the ladies out and filled the nest boxes with fresh new straw

Chicken's eye view:

It all looked very snug.

The girls obviously agreed because a few weeks later they were laying lovely eggs, in the right place!