Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A surprise present

We were all ready for Christmas, everything was in place. We had logs for the wood burner, Christmas dinner prepped (shh, don't tell the girls we had chicken). The presents were all wrapped and the tree was decorated with fairy lights and baubles. We'd been to church three times in the previous two days - with the Christmas Day service still to come! And that's when we found the surprise...

Joe went out to see to the chickens on Christmas Day morning, and came back looking a little shocked and quite smug.

As regular readers of this blog will know, we got our girls 4.5 months ago, at which point they were 15 weeks old. As they reached point of lay the weather turned particularly cold and as such we have failed to get a single egg from them. Our Christmas miracle, therefore, is very simple. Our first egg.

Update: We found a second on Boxing Day, we could get used to this :)

Monday, 24 December 2012

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

An icy day

Winter has definitely arrived in Wales. Some parts of the country have had snow - we haven't been that (un)lucky yet. We have had an abundance of frosty mornings though.

My understanding is that chickens aren't too bothered by temperatures around freezing. They'll live in areas that drop to -20 centigrade (certainly not something we have here). They'll happily huddle together at night for warmth and don't seem bothered by frozen ground in the day. There are just one or two little things that we have to be careful about while the weather is like this.

The main problem is that their water container has a tendency to freeze over. Some days this just means cracking the ring of ice around the bottom and flicking it out so that the fresh water from inside can flow out again. Other days the ice has been more widespread and has meant we've been bringing the whole thing in and sitting it under a warm tap in order to get it all back to normal again.

Another cold weather thing we've been thinking about is a change to their food. When topping up our supplies of pellets for the girls, we noticed they were on multi-buy with mash. As far as I know pellets and mash are exactly the same food - its just that one sort has been formed into pellets to make it easier to handle. You can treat them the same and feed either as dry food, but you can also mix the mash with water for a porridge-like consistency. Several other chicken bloggers have said they make up warm mash on particularly cold mornings and we thought that sounded like a good but potentially messy idea. As yet we haven't found time to give it a go though. Maybe as we're home more over the Christmas holidays we'll give it a try - I'll let you know how we get on.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Corn, glorious corn!

Photo courtesy of: yeagleya
I was spending some time with the hens last week, giving them a treat of some mixed corn. After a while, I decided that I should spend some time specifically with Pepper to continue training her to be handled. I caught her with relatively little fuss and was settling her onto my knee when I turned to look at the rest of the pen. I was shocked, though not really surprised, at what I saw.

Lemon and Fizzy both had their heads in the corn pot, eating as fast as they could. I'd not clipped the lid shut, and these mischievous hens are always ready to take advantage of such a situation!

They have recently become a lot more aware of the fact that corn doesn't just fall from the sky, but always comes from the same pot. Fizzy has taken to jumping up and pecking at the pot as I climb into their run - her way of saying "please, please, some of that please" (and yes, I do mean jumping). She will also now squawk at you until you give her the treat she can see - she really is becoming very demanding.

This also helped considerably when Lemon was wandering the garden recently. A quick rattle of the tin and she came running over to see what was on offer. Unfortunately Joe was attempting to photograph her escape at the time and ended up with some rather blurred chicken photos, oops!

In other news, after two weeks of limping, Pepper seems to be back to her old self again. The limp never slowed her down particularly, but it does seem to have gone away of its own accord *sighs with relief*.