Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Hardest Cut of All - RIP Isla Chicken

Today didn't have a good start. My oldest hen Isla (a White Leghorn) who had been a brilliant layer in her younger days was slowing down. She had been in retirement for the past year but still retained her status as top hen. She had not come through her moult very easily this year but she managed it and she had the best feather condition of her life, she looked beautiful. The last couple of days had seen a marked change in her behaviour until finally, her comb was shriveled and pink, her face looked drained, her eyes looked tired, her body was hunched with a downward pointing tail rather than her usual jaunty looking tail. I had been monitoring her for a few days and although she was eating and drinking and occasionally telling the others off she was definitely ill. Her abdomen was distended and the skin was taut, it felt like a balloon. All the other things I had tried had not worked and she was looking unsteady on her feet now and had taken to sleeping on the floor of the coop instead of her usual top perch as befitted her top hen status. She had not laid for over a year and I strongly suspected egg yolk peritonitis. So it was with a heavy heart that I decided today that the kindest thing I could do for her was to put her out of her suffering.

In order to find out exactly what was causing her suffering I decided on a post-mortem. I discovered that her bloated abdomen was filled with about a litre of green watery liquid. Her bowel was also somewhat solidified too. She also had a large solid egg sized, yolk-like mass and various other marble sized yolk coloured solid masses floating loose within her abdominal cavity which confirmed my suspicions that it was indeed egg yolk peritonitis and that I had chosen the right path for her.

Tonight she will travel on curling wisps of smoke up to the sky as we sit and remember her until the embers die down. RIP Isla Chicken. The spirit of her lives on in some of my other girls who are lucky to share her genes.

Isla up to her usual mischief before she earned
the right to become head chicken

Friday, 21 November 2014

A Christmas Recipe with a twist

You are going to love this recipe. I have copied if from a Facebook forum and written by Kelly Nijhuis
not strictly poultry related.. but its cake related so hope it's ok Rosemary Davies!
Once again this year, I’ve had requests for my Vodka Christmas Cake recipe so here goes. Please keep in your files as I am beginning to get tired of typing this up every year! (Made mine this morning!!!!) 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 cup water, 1 tsp. salt , 1 cup brown sugar, Lemon juice, 4 large eggs, Nuts, 1......bottle Vodka, 2 cups dried fruit.
Sample a cup of Vodka to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the Vodka again to be sure it is of the highest quality then Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point, it is best to make sure the Vodka is still OK. Try another cup just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the fruit up off the floor, wash it and put it in the bowl a piece at a time trying to count it. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a drewscriver Sample the Vodka to test for tonsisticity. Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something. Check the Vodka. Now shit shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the Vodka and wipe the counter with the hen.

Thanks to Kelly for this

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Heartwarming kindness by Police to a mother duckie

This is a lovely video I found. It shows a frantic mother duck who was quacking around a drainage gutter because her ducklings had fallen into it and couldnt get out. It shows a policewoman undoing the drainage cover and rescuing the ducklings. Happy ending and a very happy mummy duck. Lovely.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Hen Project

If any of you are in any doubt about how wonderful hens are to keep, then this video will show you how it is being used in the North East for a group of pensioners. The hens make them feel useful, it gives them a focus and it helps form bonds within their communities as more people realise the joys of keeping chickens. This is a lovely piece of film from the Hen Project - Henpower

Thanks to lottery funding they are spreading the chicken love to Birmingham, a place where many of them have never been.


Monday, 9 June 2014

Naked Gardening Day- Whatever next (Its quite tasteful but funny)

I was just looking for some information on Phygelius plants to find out if they are attractive to slugs when I found this video it is worth a watch. Dont worry it is not something you will be ashamed of watching. It is in aid of World Naked Gardening Day which was apparently some time in May. I didnt actually join in because unfortunately I missed it. Otherwise I might have been frolicking in the potatoes with the best of em. Plus the fact that the neighbours probably think I am mad enough. Enjoy
If anyone knows if Phygelius is tasty to slugs I would love to know as my slugs have had the most expensive diet known to man (or woman) I have treated them to about £30 worth of new plants this year, all are now dead. I want to grow something pretty, long flowering and I think the slugs have had quite enough.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Broodyville - What on earth is that!!

One of our lovely customers contacted us today to say  """I was wondering if you’d be able to help. One of the chickens seems to be suffering a little. She has been sitting on her eggs waiting for them to hatch and is not wanting to walk around at all, resulting in her eating very little and loosing feathers. She has also stopped laying eggs which I believe is very serious. I am not sure what to do, should get a vet out to look at her?"""

How do you know if your chicken is broody? This is classic broody behaviour. She will be flattened, fluffed up, she will squeal if you go near her, she may even turn into chickzilla and try to peck you. She will go mental if you remove her from the nest box and making a "clocking" noise. The other previously mild mannered coop mates will turn on her especially if she is not a high ranking chicken. She apparently has ideas above her station. A Broody hen is to be cherished and you can see from the pictures here our India who is an Improved Indian Game is a perfect Broody, she had a brood of 20 (mostly duped her into adoptees) which she devotedly looked after day and night for 6 weeks until we gave her the time off. Normally a broody will carry on for about 8 weeks when all of a sudden she will say, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH - PACK YOUR BAGS AND FIND YOUR OWN FOOD" she will then have nothing more to do with them. Not very different from what we do but we have to wait 18 LONG years to get to do that.

We took these pictures of India last time she was broody and she managed to cram them all into such a tiny space which was really funny to see. She thought she was safest in there and she insisted that they all join her. When they were hatchlings she had plenty of room, but they gain weight quickly and at 3 weeks as in these pictures they cram in like sardines. We put her in her own proper coop after this so she could get some "me" space.

This is what happens when you let your broody follow what Mother Nature has planned for her. The alternative is what? What if you don't have the room? She wont be laying any eggs and is upsetting the harmony of the coop and pinching the others eggs so she can sit on them.

The term here is to "break" the broody or break the broody cycle. She will lay a load of eggs and then stop and sit. She has an incredible urge to sit and will sit on anything including golf balls and similar egg sized balls. She will not like to be taken off the nest, but moved she must be. The easiest and "almost" kindest way of doing it is to prevent her getting access to anywhere she can sit in comfort or make a nest. This includes preventing her getting her in the coop, or anywhere she can make a scrape to nest in. If she cant get into her normal nest she will seek out an alternative. She will go nuts trying to find her way back in and she will pace up and down trying every weak spot she can find. She may be diverted with a bit of bribery for a while but she will resume the pacing soon after. She may do this for 2 days and then she may just be broken. She can go into the coop at night for safety unless you have somewhere else she can go but you have to turf her out in the morning. Very determined broodies sometimes take an extra day. You can test her to see if she goes straight back on the nest. If she doesn't return to her broody behaviour she can rejoin her coop mates. I normally shut my broodies out of the run. They can see the others but cannot nest.

I have tried all the other "methods" such as dunking them in cold water, and hoping they will give up naturally. Take it from me they wont give up until they have lost loads of condition and dunking actually quite awful. It is a real shock to them and it doesn't work. You can also put them in a dog crate to make them uncomfortable which does work but is worse than my method. They cant run around and is more like entrapment. Either way depriving a broody of her nesting instinct is like trying to plait fog - its impossible.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Bananas a go go

I have just looked at the fruit bowl. I know fruit is good for you and we all have to have our 5 or is it 7 a day or whatever these days so we can be good to ourselves, but I have just noticed that my bananas (not my mental condition - my fruit) have started to slither off the worktop by themselves. I have been promising myself that I will save that browning banana for a banana and walnut loaf cake. Tomorrow I will try to make that loaf before it finally hits the floor having undressed itself of its skin. The race is on folks.