Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by sarkymite

  1. I do pretty much the same as Cat tails. I pinch out up to 2/3 of side shoots but I allow a few to develop, mostly the ones lower down the plant. I tie in the side shoots to canes to ensure they are well supported. I pinch out the growing tips when the plants reach about 5'5''.

    I have given up grow bags this year as I'm trying to reduce plastic waste and instead I am experimenting with old builders buckets that have been damaged and are therefore no longer watertight. I've drilled a few extra holes in the bottom and planted one plant per bucket. They allow a much deeper root system to develop and I think I'm going to have  bumper crop! I've also got a few growing in green garden waste bags that I've filled with compost- 2 plants per bag.

    This year I have a handful of Marmande plants, a handful of Gardeners Delight (cherry) plants, 3 plum tomato plants (all grown from seed) plus two impulse purchases from the garden centre - a beefsteak and one called stripey stuffer!

  2. On 08/06/2018 at 2:46 PM, Millie-Annie said:

    Well we are 14 months on and I decided against more chickens.  Re-reading this has given me the shudders all over again.  

    Over the Winter we have had a couple of visits one from a healthy looking fox and one from the scrawniest thing I have ever seen, but that was it, twice in 14 months.  I know that doesnt mean they are not about, but they are not like the last one.  So despite people telling me that if we despatched it we would just get another one, we haven't so far.  I am far more relaxed, I leave my guineas in the omlet run and go out, although I never leave them in the evening.  The tortoise is trotting around, and I am so glad I didnt rehome him, but I did think long and hard about that.  

    But I will never have anymore chickens sadly, they just encourage foxes.  

    I still love coming on here and reading about your chickens though and I look after my neighbours when she is away, so I do get my chicken fix and they get my leftovers 

    Hope all your girls are well?



    I am glad to hear that you've been able, gradually, to relax a bit. Though it's a shame you've decided not to have any more birds it's clearly the right decision for you at the moment.

    All well here and actually less fox activity this year than last year.  We get the same male who does his patrol once or twice every night (and we have some lovely shots of him on our wildlife camera) but this year there is no vixen or cubs, as far as we have seen, so there's no high jinx in the garden at night and my seedlings haven't been dug up by playful youngsters. I don't have the same sense of rising panic about the foxes that I used to.

    I'm as vigilant as ever with the chickens though. Every element of the runs (Yes, two at the moment!) is inspected regularly, I'm always adding more cable ties :D. They are never left free ranging if we go out, and I'm only really comfortable leaving them "unattended" when free ranging if I've got neighbours out using their gardens (and the noisier they are being, the better!)

    I solved my early morning chicken noise problem too! The girls don't get let out until 6.45am these days and I use a sheet of permeable weed control fabric on the back of the Cube which just makes it a little bit darker. Very occasionally we still hear them if they are awake early, but it's much quieter from inside the Cube and doesn't upset any neighbours. Sometimes even now in height of summer they're still dozy when I let them out and I find that they are preoccupied with getting breakfast etc and there's no real noise until well into mid-morning (one of them does still like to have a lengthy screeching session most mornings but much later than she used to!) I'm saving up for a Hentronix auto opener so that I don't have to get up to let them out at weekends now!! 

  3. Hi Dogmother

    Thanks for your reply. I may call them and see if he's around this weekend then- though may depend on the weather as it's a 40 minute drive each way in good traffic and I worry that it may be a bit hot and stressful for the birds in the car!


  4. I agree with you - my other birds seem perfectly happy despite one of them being significantly plucked and the other two having small bald patches in certain areas. But, I worry that it will only be a matter of time before she accidentally draws blood and that once that happens, we're in real trouble. As well as her love of feathers she is also top hen and can be quite a bully. I would like to be able to integrate my newer pullets into the flock fully at some point. She's stopping me as I can't bear the thought of my lovely araucanas going bald! She even managed to get a beakful of head feathers from one of the new girls through a wire fence, and gobbled up every single feather. Yuck!

  5. Sorry to hijack this thread, but Dogmother, I'm having the same problem with the Omlet bumpa bits, even after soaking them in hot water. I need to fit one on Wilma as she's developed a taste for feather eating. I bought ten bumpas and have broken 6 of them trying to fit them, with OH holding her very still and me applying the bit. They don't seem wide enough to get the ends into her nostrils, and when I try to hold them open a little further using the pliers, the middle bit (the actual bit, bit, that goes across the middle inside the beak) just snaps. I don't know if she's just got a really wide face...!

    I got one on once by accident (she flinched and it snapped into place) but she had it off within 5 mins and when I picked it up, again, middle bit was snapped.

    I think I do live fairly near to you and I would be hugely grateful to take up any help you can offer in getting a bit fitted (and maybe show me where I'm going wrong?!) 

    The bits are a last resort having tried everything. Anti-peck spray doesn't deter her at all, it just pees off the other chickens as they can't preen without it tasting bad. They have loads of run space (currently these 4 birds are in 9 square metres of run, Eglu cube Mk1, plus an upper level in the run which is another 2 square metres, plus enrichment and several perches, plus free ranging over an area in excess of 60m2 for at least 3 hours a day, and all day at weekends) and I've tried increasing protein(mealworms)/varying the diet with greens etc. She just thinks feathers are the tastiest thing ever.

  6. Thank you- I will look that up.

    I think the other thing to do is pamper her a bit- good food etc so she gains some weight and has plenty of energy for fighting if it is an infection of some sort. So project feed-up will begin today!

    She really is very sweet, I can't decide if she thinks I'm a mother hen or whether she thinks she's a human. She preens me and will sit for ages having the back of her head rubbed. She sometimes tries to snuggle into my top in the way a chick will get under mother's feathers and she jumps straight up onto my shoulders if I sit down outside!

  7. Hi all,

    I recently added to my flock with 2 araucanas (a lavender and a bantam rumpless). If the seller is correct about age, the lavender one is about 15 weeks old now. She's really quite petite and perhaps a little skinny. The rumpless we think is older, perhaps 20 weeks. She's very healthy looking, nice solid body which doesn't feel bony (yet not fat either) and is actually currently slightly bigger than the lavender despite being a bantam.

    So, the lavender has a runny nose. It's a clear, runny nasal discharge. I notice it in the evenings (she is a cuddler and likes to spend half an hour on my shoulder just before bed) but can't say I've noticed it during the day. She sneezes occasionally (not enough that I'd be worried if it was only sneezing), and this evening I noticed that she was a little wheezy after she had fallen asleep. The wheeze stopped when she woke up again.

    Her poop is normal, she displays all normal chicken behaviours  (other than the cuddling!!) has a decent appetite and drinks well. 

    Any ideas? The other new hen is fine, as are my 4 older hybrids (they have all come into contact). She's such a darling- I don't want her to get ill!!


  8. Well mine didn't get the memo about being quiet in the mornings. When I leave the cube open and they get up when they want, we have sustained alarm calling from them all from about 5.15am onwards and they don't stop. They will stop when you go down to them but when you go back indoors after a few mins they start up again. In the earlier summer it was even earlier.


    I am reasonably confident of the fox proofing on my WIR though the one weakness is that it sits on earth not concrete, so if they were going to be quiet I'd be happy leaving the Cube open. It's what I used to do in the old house. Our bedroom was at the front and we never heard them (though we did have complaints from a near neighbour on a few occasions, I couldn't understand at the time but if they were doing that, then I get it now!!)


    So I tried it again Sat night just to double check and yup, a racket from 5.15am.

    My best guess is that before there are people about, the fox is around. Once they've got upset by the fox they will swear at anything, including but not limited to next door's cat and the wood pigeons who live in the tree by their WIR.


    If they're inside the cube at least they aren't making the alarm calls. What I can usually hear then is just egg songs and a bit of mild squabbling, at much lower decibel level. We've settled on 6.30am at the moment for let out time. This seems to be the sweet spot which stops them getting too upset in the cube but means they're quiet when they are let out.


    Of course, when we're on holiday it has to be open as the neighbour only goes in once a day...


    I am certain I can fashion a cover that doesn't prevent ventilation. I will report back if/when I manage it.


    ETA: ooh or I could invent an automatic door opener for it! Hmm... gets thinking cap on... :think:

  9. I haven't compared the Mk1 and the Mk2 side by side and neither have I bothered to look up the dimensions, so it may well be the case that the Mk2 is smaller and I hadn't noticed. We only have 4 birds at the moment (haha... 'at the moment'...) and they look almost lost and lonely roosting in the Mk1 there is so much spare space in it. You could easily and comfortably sleep another 4 in there and I reckon if you only had medium sized birds it would sleep 10. As Dogmother says the real issue for most people is the run size as the minimum requirement per bird isn't made clear. Not a problem for us as I've always gone for providing the biggest space I can afford so we have a WIR attached too, but I can well imagine that people get caught out and end up with overcrowded and unhappy birds.


    A little update on fixing up our battered Mk1 then: a well placed screw (with a rounded head) on the inside of the egg port door where the plastic bump used to be has worked wonders to fix that door catch. It's now tight as anything and can't be opened by accident.

    For the poop trays, for now OH has managed to straighten out and tighten the existing metal catches and they seem to be holding, but I'm tempted to continue trying to come up with an ultra secure solution anyway just because I am acutely aware of the fact that we share our outdoor space with several hungry foxes.


    The main issue with the cube that I've found so far is that it lets way too much light inside , so even though they're shut in, they'll start squarking and singing from inside the cube from about 6am. Its the green model but quite faded and doesn't seem to block light well, and the open ventilation strips are enormous and let loads of light in too. By contrast, our classic was the purple one and was very dark in there if the door was shut. So we're back to noisy mornings and I'm wondering about making a cover for it to make it darker...

  10. We saw a brand new cube the other day and on a simple inspection I have to say it looked like a massive improvement on the Mk 1. But we haven't, obviously, tried to actually use one so I couldn't say for sure.


    Our new-to-us 2nd hand Mk1 is currently being shored up with gaffa tape whilst we work out how to secure it. Omlet have confirmed to us that they don't sell the clips for the poop trays; neither do they have any Mk 1 replacement poo trays left. So we'll have to fashion our own or make external latches. But they thought my idea of a dome-headed screw on the inside of the egg port door might work well.


    We might look at it tomorrow and see what we can do...

  11. Good idea Dogmother, hadn't occurred to me as the cube is very 2nd hand.


    I've also just had a brainwave of how I could easily add external latches using small sections of flat metal bracket and a few screws. OH thinks that a screw with a domed head on the inside of the egg port door might act as a replacement "bump" where the moulded plastic has worn down.

  12. Ok so we connected it all up this evening. The girls explored it straight away and all 4 of them have put themselves to bed in it without prompting (2 of them are in the nest though, silly birds!)


    But it was only when I went to shut them up for the night, as OH had put the cube itself together, that I realised that the security isn't great. There are 2 problems. I'll try to explain them. I wondered whether anyone has come up with any clever workarounds for either of these:


    1) on the egg port door, the small plastic bump that creates the resistance when you turn the handle has worn smooth. There is therefore no resistance on the handle and no "clunk" when you twist the handle shut or open. This means its very easy to turn the handle and then the door falls open. I'm figuring I will need to fit an external bolt, catch or lock to make it safe. For tonight I've gaffa taped over the handle so nothing can inadvertently push on it.


    2) the metal clips that hold the droppings trays in place are also deformed to the point of useless. We've tried to straighten them back into place and one of them is holding but I've had to gaffa tape the other dropping tray in, too and it's really not very secure at all. Is it possible to fashion our own replacement clips or is it also going to be a case of adding some kind of external catch to the trays?


    Feeling a bit deflated :wall:

  13. just embrace the fact that you have some entertaining wildlife in yer garden. :roll:


    Entertaining?! I've no carrots nor leeks left thanks to them!!! :lol::lol:

    I know the chickens are reasonably safe in their WIR and I know there's not a lot can be done about it, but they could at least make themselves useful and dig up weeds instead of veggies :roll::lol:


    I don't think they visited last night. I think probably they were disturbed by all the stuff we'd rearranged, but I've already seen them this evening in next doors garden so I think they'll be in trying to play football with my beetroots before long... :roll:


    I'm back to shutting the chooks in to the Eglu overnight as extra measure and am bidding on Cubes on eBay so hopefully they can have bigger housing. I know it's technically enough space for them but I still don't like shutting them into the tiny Classic at night. Ho hum...


    Apparently there used to be an elderly lady 2 doors down who used to feed them and they used to den in her garden. I guess this might help explain why there are quite so many locally.

  14. Definitely getting some scoot. Have been trying to persuade OH to pee up the fence while I wait for it to arrive but he's not convinced :lol:


    We've brought the entire rabbit hutch indoors tonight, i've shut the chickens properly in the Eglu and we've laid "soft" traps around, ie stuff that will get disturbed /moved / marked by fox activity so we can monitor if they visit again tonight.


    And I've netted/caged what few plants are left in my veggie plot!!!

  15. We are currently looking after SD's rabbits while she's away. Hutch is directly below our bedroom window. No incidents for the first 5 nights.

    Last night I was woken at 1.40am by rabbit thumping. Repeated thumping. As the previous night something had dug up all my newly sown seedlings in the veg plot and left a suspiciously fox sized paw print behind, I jumped up and dashed out with a torch, scared to death as I did so.

    The torch picked up a small pair of eyes fairly near the house which then turned into a shadow melting up the garden, at the same time there was a rather ungraceful crash landing over a fence higher up the garden where the hedge ends, I shone the torch up where it came from and found another pair of eyes, this clearly a much bigger beast. I swung the torch across to the chickens run and to my horror found 2 pairs of eyes staring at me from over there. The big animal then gave a short call and in unison they all disappeared. I heard them all go over the back fence. I was shaking with adrenaline and fear, think I've said before I'm a bit (ok a lot) scared of them. Needless to say I haven't slept a wink, spent the rest of the night in a state if high alert with my heart racing, but the chickens slept right through the whole thing and the rabbits were quiet for the rest of the night. Lying awake in the small hours I heard more fox calls further away through the night.

    I'm guessing it must be the female we saw earlier in the year with cubs in tow, and that must be why my veggies are getting dug up, as the cubs will be playing, practising and also eating insects.

    Soooo tired this morning! :shock::(

  16. My Oxford Blue, which we established is basically the same hybrid as a Bluebell, is very noisy. She's got worse as she's got older too; now that egg laying is no longer a daily occurrence, she feels the need to sing about it for about half an hour eihtmmther side of laying it!

    She also gets spooked at the slightest thing so we have a lot of early morning alarm calls from her.

    Our garden is bordered by 5 other gardens due to its shape, but we've talked to 4 of those neighbours and they've all said they either don't notice or they like/welcome the chicken noises. Less worried about the 5th as there are tall hedges which will stop the sound from travelling hehe :lol:

    There's lots of noise from wild birds, dogs, foxes and children on a regular basis, so I've decided not to worry about it anymore.

    I don't understand why she always manages to get going super-early on a Sunday though: how does she know it's Sunday?! :roll::lol:

  17. Yep totally happened to me too.


    3x chickens and a classic and run turned into buying a house with a bigger garden turned into a huge WIR turned into fencing off a huge space just for chickens turned into 4 chickens turned into fantasizing about taking in exbatts and having pure breeds and endless daydreaming and plotting of how I can get a cube so I can have more than 4 at a time... :lol:


    And nightly sleepless nights in case any harm should befall my birdies while I sleep (we have regular fox visitors) and in case anyone complains about their propensity for squawking at 4am.... :lol::lol:


    Oh and also I've now got one set of neighbours and half my family hooked and have a mini industry selling eggs to my poor colleagues at work... :lol::lol::lol:


    It's a serious affliction and there is no cure. Except to scratch the itch and Get More Birds that is...

  18. I think it's the last thing that happens in terms of her being accepted. Even if the others are generally good to her they may be stopping her going in at night to remind her she's at the bottom, and as dusk falls she may just give up and fall asleep elsewhere.


    I still occasionally find my Nancy asleep just outside the eglu door or on a high perch in the main run. I've sat quietly and observed, and basically she's not allowed in the Eglu until the others are all settled. Most of the time she makes it in before falling asleep (especially as the older ones do seem to go to bed earlier!) But occasionally it gets dark and she just sleeps wherever she drops as it were.

    I always pick her up and pop her in if I find her like that.

  19. You can get a sheep's wool pellet product (I forget the name of it) that is supposed to deter slugs and snails. It would be no good in the garden as you'd need too much of it but I've used it and found it quite good in pots in the greenhouse. You put the pellets on top of the soil and when you water the pls t's the pellets sort of disintegrate and form a mulch or mat which is meant to be unpleasant for the slimers to travel over. As an added bonus it helps keep the soil moist by reducing evaporation. Its quite expensive though.

  20. I bought my tent pegs for my skirt from Amazon.


    I've just raided our camping equipment :lol: OH may be unpleasantly surprised when he next tries to put up the awning or a tent :lol:

    I'll get some more next time we're at Go Outdoors or somewhere hehehe!!


    Run now 80% cable tie reinforced and the rest will be done tomorrow. More obvious signs of fox presence in garden. Heavy, large law prints sunk down into my freshly dug and seeded veg bed opposite the chicken run, far too big to be a cat.


    Religiously shutting chooks into Eglu overnight and they're getting used to it now but will have to leave it open while were away. At least I know the run is better secured than it was.

  21. Seen a fox just other side of fence- a small one, making off across the big garden next to ours at high speed - looked like a young vixen, definitely not the big bold boy that patrols across our gardens nightly. But she may be more of a danger if she's raising cubs.


    2nd night of shutting them in again and I'll get up at 6 again to let them out before they explode with impatience!


    I won't be able to at the weekend tho as we're away and nice neighbour is on chook duty but is only going in once a day. Going to get some more packs of cable ties though, so I can finish off reinforcing every seam of the WIR before then.


    I also need some more heavy duty tent pegs so that I can use my roll of heavy galvanised mesh to improve the skirt.


    Also going to turn my mind to how to save up for a Cube. I wouldn't feel so bad shutting them in a Cube overnight just as it's that bit more spacious, and it feels safer for being up off the ground. I reckon 2nd hand with relevant run parts (would want the 3m run to connect to WIR for maximum space) I need to save/make around £500. I feel a Cube Challenge coming on... i wonder what i could do to raise funds... :think::roll::lol:

  • Create New...