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Everything posted by chickanne

  1. Have found references on the net about foxes having green eyes in some torch light. Prefer to think it is Basil than some big cat......
  2. What colour were the eyes? Some of the foxes round here are quite a light colour and the movement you describe is rather like theirs. Is you cat one of those that is scared of foxes or not? Some cats see off foxes or at least ignore them. Must go and give my pair a cuddle to reassure myself.....
  3. I put my Eglu in the greenhouse in that snowy weather just before Christmas. It made it much easier to deal with the girlies in the dark and I could sit on a stool and pet and feed them in -8C. One of the main drivers for the move had been an attempt to stop their water freezing over whilst I was at work (as it happens it was too cold for that to work very well). They also love the dry soil for a dust bath. The down side? I wondered why I could smell garlic on Louise's breath! She'd hopped up on the bench, nibbled the tops of the garlic in trays (knocking off the cloches first) and eaten a whole tray of sweet pea seedings and winter lettuce even tho' they too had been protected - so I thought. I moved them out again at the beginning of Jan but occasionally put them in for an hour or so so they can bathe. It better not snow again as this week I start planting seeds in earnest. I think I'd only put the Eglu in under extreme conditions - they seem just as happy outside.
  4. Louise has literally broken her voice! Had a completely normal range of bokking and talking noises until one day they saw something (I know not what) at the bottom of the garden that got the pair of them honking like guard geese. The were stretched up as tall as could be making seeing off noises as they gradually stalked towards the "foe". Afterwards, Louise had completely lost her voice but it started to get it back after a couple of days. It never has returned to completely normal so she makes the funniest growling noises!
  5. Bribes all the way! Get youself a low stool or garden kneeling pad to sit on. The sooner you can pick them up the better so get them used to being touched as you treat them.
  6. Opened up the yesterday evening and Thelma was in the nest box - again. Louise was perched on the edge of the nest box facing away from her. Guess what she'd done on Thelmas' back!! Have given up trying to stop them - chickens know best apparently.
  7. I started with straw in the nest box but I am sure that Louise was allergic to it or something (fungal spores?) in it. She always had a sneezy sort of cough. Swapped to shredded paper and she has been fine ever since. Not quite as aesthetic when they toss it out into the run, but cheap and compostable. Mine seem to take it in turns to sleep in the nest box - if they did not mess in it it would be fine!
  8. I think the moral of this thread is to research local vets BEFORE you need one! We all live busy lives and need contingency plans. Several of us in our village keep chickens as pets (all with or ). We do have help and advice from local farm-types but most of them would just get the death-gadget out if a chook looked really sickly! When I did a bit of research, one place that advertised on some web-site that it was "chicken friendly" was v. expensive. By complete luck, our nearest vet does not specifically mention chickens BUT he does keep them himself. When I took Louise in because of a bad cough he seemed more worried that I'd bought her from some dodgy source (never heard of Omlet!) and ranted on about unscrupulous breeders off-loading sub-standard stock on novice pet-lovers at markets! I found him quite frightning but he gave Louise a squirt of worming juice and an antibiotic jab of some sort and only charged me £7.50. His parting shot was "If they go broody on you I'll give you some eggs for them to hatch - it's the only way you should get new birds!"
  9. My girlies seem completely unfazed by the local moggies. At least 5 have regular runs thro' our garden which is large and impossible to fence. The cats also ignore them. I and OH, on the other hand, go completely mental!! Cat mess in all the borders/veggie patches AND WORSE OF ALL in the girlies' favorite dust bathing places!! The cats do run away the moment they spy either of us as we hurl stones and water as well as abuse. If the OH catches the little beast that messes on our drive we will certainly be eating catburgers. I even caught him researching surveillance cameras on the net so he could present owners with evidence. This thread has reminded me of his plans. Perhaps I shoud encourage him to get one on the pretence we need to catch the cat? Then I can nick the kit and see what the girlies get up to when I'm away......
  10. I too teach and timed my babes to arrive just before the summer hols. Try and get them a week before half term. This gives them a week of peace acclimatising in the run and eglu, then you can have the most fantastic time beginning to bond with them! Find an enclosed space (shed?) where you can take them and just sit with them hand feeding a few treats. Gradually, you can pick them and put them down rewarding them each time. PS - you'll find yourself running home from school much earlier than you used to....
  11. This thread has made me think about just how much the girls have changed over the 5 months I've had them. Now, they are very tame and can be picked up easily. This makes life soo much easier!! I handle them everyday and make sure I give them treats by hand. They are now complete tarts so getting them close with food offerings always works. Having said all that, it did take persistance on my part. I would recommend getting them used to the treat dispenser/bowl before letting them out of a run. I did alot of the early training in a confined space - this helped me become more confident at picking them up and holding them. I have trained them to associate finger-clicking with treats so I can recall them from a distance. I also use the same feed cup and treat bowl which they can spot at 50 paces. Thelma, in particular, has a good turn of speed on her. If they decide to run instead of crouch I have to resort to bribes. Louise is the really docile one. Although she used to wimper when I first picked her up she's now the one that will sit calmly an accept a cuddle. Thelma prefers to stand on my lap and scold. I've installed them in my greenhouse whilst the snow is around. It is foxproof and has wide borders of soil which they are distributing all over the path as they bathe!! I can sit on a stool in there and feed them in relative comfort.
  12. I think Omlet should sell clothes with muddy chicken footprints on them (I like to think it's mud but I suspect this is not always the case!!). Like most of you my early morning attire does not exactly look alluring but at least the head torch dazzles any onlooker so they cannot see the full extent of the fashion faux pas. I wait til the OH leaves for work before I scuttle out looking like a bag lady. Put the Eglu in my greenhouse yesterday morning at 7am. Took me 40 mins to undo the run bolts (losing washers in the snow) then cart the components 15 yards and reassemble. It was worth it to see the pair of them dust bathing in the soil half an hour later. They also enjoyed polishing off the remains of the surviving lettuce. Much easier to deal with them in there and one less layer of clothing required! Only 3 weeks to go and days start getting longer again.....
  13. Agree is light is a good thing. Have moved chook's Eglu and small run into a pen by the shed for winter. The light from the shed windows only goes some of the way to stop me falling over on the poo! Better than nothing, tho'.
  14. Half as much as I would do if I did not have chooks! Since the girlies arrived I have spent lots more time in the garden which has to be a good thing. Resent to shorter days as see less of 'em. I suppose other chicken owners say "Going to close the pop-hole on the coop" rather than the "Going to close the bedroom door on their hutch"??
  15. The eggcitement of collecting the eggs never wears off. Once they have got used to their new life you are going to have to move them around on the grass as they love to scratch. Thelma and Louise have a large garden to roam around in when I'm home, but the boundaries are leaky to wildlife and they have to be shut in whilst I'm at work. Over the summer I could get away with moving them twice a week but now the grass has stopped growing I will be moving them into a WIR. Last week they did not get moved cos I was away for a few days and it looked like a war zone! When they get locked in for too long they retaliate by throwing food out of the Grub and then scratching it up!! Found tip about the galley cup v useful - am going to get one for their grit. Have been amazed from day one by their ability to walk poo through other bowls......
  16. Know the feeling! My two Omlet girls arrived in July and Thelma laid after a week. She is an absolute trooper and has only not laid on two days (one being my birthday). Her eggs have steadily grown from 40 - 60g. Lazy Louise, on the other hand, refused to mature. I could tell by her comb and the width of her pelvic bones. I had assumed that she would not lay until the new year. I e-mailed Barbara at Omlet several times in desperation. Three weeks ago it became noticable that she was starting to crouch in the "brace yourself girlies" pose when I went to pick her up. I cleaned out their Eglu last Sunday after Thelma had laid and left it to dry. My brother and OH notice Louise standing under the hedge looking bemused next to a beautiful, warm egg!! When I went back to Eglu I could see muddy footprints leading into it and around the nest box. Poor girlie had gone in to do the biz and there was no roof! Since then, she has laid every other day an egg as big as Thelma's. Don't give up hope, just like humans they have a wide range for "normal behaviour".
  17. I find my girlies throw out then rearrange the bedding every time I change it. This is usually accompanied by lots of strutting and huffing just before egg laying. Perhaps I should give them the hose and brush and they can do they whole changeover themselves??
  18. I have just blagged some tent material to cover their run. (never seen shower curtain with chickens on.... ) I hand been thinking more along the lines of making a dry space for a dust bath. Just ask around - someone you know may have trashed a tent at Glastonbury or similar!!
  19. Guilt trip. Have just finished a week of worming two chooks by putting a pinch of flubenvet in a bowl of the omlet feed they prefer to the organic layers pellets they normally eat. At least I know they have eaten their daily dose as they eat the lot. The layers pellets are in the grub as well so they can have all the food they want - I just know they will eat the other medicated food first. Are they more likely to get worms on grass or dirt?? I have been moving them around the (big) lawn since I got them in July and letting them FR before and after work. Now the days are getting shorter I will be moving the Eglu into an old chicken run that is brick and dirt so that they get a confined 2m by 10m safe space they can come and go at will in.
  20. Thanks, have decided that Thelmas eggs always look clean so it's not a problem. I don't want to disturb Louise as she has yet to lay (little madam!) and I want to keep her happy. I was suprised the first time I'd forgotton to remove an egg and it did not get broken overnight ......and them I stopped using my chicken-brain and realised that hens are very good at doing that!! UPDATE 8th Oct Louise must have heard the e-traffic. Since posting she has started to roost next to Thelma. Do you think it's because it's starting to get a bit cooler??
  21. What is the downside to them sleeping in the nexting box?? Louise has done this since day 1 (3 months ago) and I've never thought to stop her. Originally she did not poop in the nest but she has now started doing so. Is is too late to train her out of it ?
  22. When I got my girlies in July I was determined to get them tame so that I could always get them when I needed them. As with any training, regular, rewarded sessions are needed. I spent time with them in a small pen (you could use a garage or shed) hand feeding them. Then I would pick them up, give them a mealworm or bit of grape and put them down again. I might do that 10 times in a row. Think Pavlov and his dogs. I always use the same (laundry soap powder) scoop for their daily treat of mixed corn. They can just get their head inside it (both together if they try hard!!). I borrowed a dog clicker trainer thinking it would be a good loud noise to attract them at a distance but now find I can stand anywhere in our large garden and click my fingers and they will appear at the double expecting a treat. Now after 3 months they follow us around in the garden and will beg for treats if we sit out. My partner has never picked them up but can click his fingers and lure them into their run with a grape. I can get them to come to me when I need but only the pepperpot Thelma (the dominant one) is easy to pick up without a lure. The Ginger Ninja, Louise is far more wary and I need to get her to feed from the scoop so that she cannot see the hand coming. However, once I have got her, she is very docile. Even then, she whimpers in a pathetic way although this is just for show.You need to accept that chickens do not show affection in the same was as a mammal. They tolerate handling because they want something or at least realise they are not in mortal danger. Spend time just sitting with them and becoming part of the flock. Not quite so easy at this time of the year but very relaxing, nontheless. Think "lure" rather than "chase" - they will win hands down. For some reason, grapes to Thelma are as heroin to an addict - she will put up with anything for one. Try cutting one into 8 little pieces and luring your babes! Let us know how you get on, Chickanne
  23. Hi DotiD! Thelma and Louise will be v jealous of the new set up the Devon Cousins have got. Now that the nights are drawing in they are getting less "free time " and I have to pop them in the chicken run for a bit before letting them out for a quick scamper before going off to work. Do you think they would mind if I nicked a few of their feathers to make a hat for The Big Wedding??
  24. Looking forward to coming round and viewing the new girlies. I'm sure Suzie will love them when she gets to know them. Thelma and Louise send their love.
  25. Hi, just got my first ever chickens,Thelma and Louise. Am now paraniod about foxes and expectations of partner who will go mad if they wreck the joint! Worst scratching of grass happens where they toss the food out of the grub and onto the lawn. Can I reduce this tendancy of theirs in some way?? How can I get my man to bond with the girlies? All suggestions welcome.......

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