The decision

The decision

We made the decision

Snowy needed a friend. So on my way home from work this afternoon I took a detour to Pear Tree Poultry near Preston to see what they had. My commute from today’s office is at least two hours and it meant a detour of 20 minutes in the wrong direction. We’ve been to Pear Tree in the past but not bought anything.

I had a look round and saw a Silkie I liked the look of so went to ask a member of staff but it turned out the Silkies I saw were on holiday. Pear Tree offers a boarding service for hens. Further to that, they had no Silkies left!

The backup plan was a Polish hen, but I wasn’t sure about the size, they’re tiny bantams.

The very helpful girl came with me to point out what was what, and to her surprise there was one single Silkie hen that appeared from one of the sheds!

After some thought I decided to buy the Silkie and a black Polish that has a white head.

In the car for the long drive home

These two were from different flocks in different pens but there was no squabbling on the way home.

When I pulled up on our drive, they were just sat resting

I decided to just put them in with Snowy. I’d normally separate any new comers but I checked them over and trust the breeder.

There were no issues at all. Snowy started running around a bit but soon calmed. The new comers didn’t really know what to do.

The kids named them:

Welcome “Poppy”
And welcome little “Polo”

As you can see in the pic, Polo has that many head feathers her eyes are covered. She couldn’t see! I proved this by waving my hands around in front of her and she didn’t flinch!

So we got the scissors out! She was really calm and let us trim them. She’s actually a very tame chicken, which is perfect.

Immediate improvement and she started to explore the area.

We put some corn down and Snowy was wolfing it down, the other two obviously hadn’t experienced it before and weren’t!

With a bit of persuasion, Poppy tried the corn and then seemed to be enjoying it. Eventually Polo did too but Snowy gave her a light peck to show who’s boss. There wasn’t any conflict between Snowy and Poppy.

Snowy and Poppy, quite comfortable together
Polo on my foot!

We watched from the window as bedtime came, the three big ones went into the main coop and then Snowy jumped up and went into the Eglu.

It was gradually getting darker and Poppy and Polo were just mooching about in the run with no sign of looking for somewhere to perch. So I went out to put them in the Eglu.

I put Polo in first, as I lowered her down she started flapping and Spooked Snowy who walked out of the front. There’s a piece of wood inside the Eglu that Snowy perches on, it’s the same wood as the perches she’s used to, I put Polo on the perch but I’ll have to review this as she has smaller feet.

Next I lifted Poppy up onto the platform infront of the Eglu where Snowy was loitering. They just stood there together looking into the run. It’s great as they seem comfortable together, hope it stays like this.

Shall we go in?

Eventually Snowy went back in and got back on the perch.

Polo and snowy were in, but Poppy stayed near the door

I put Poppy through the door and then went back in the house to get the kids to bed.

When I checked, she was snuggled up with Snowy!

I decided to put her on the perch with the other two, easier said than done! But I managed it! Ace.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings

I could have got away with just getting the Silkie, but I’ve always liked the Polish hens and couldn’t resist. When I got home I realised how tiny she really is! Snowy is small compared to the three big ones, Poppy is smaller than Snowy and Polo is smaller than Poppy. She’s like a parrot! She is only 14 weeks old and will grow a bit more, hopefully substantially!

At one point Polo flapped and ran up the side of the run by gripping onto the weld mesh, I’m not sure if she could fly but she can grip onto things!

I’m excited and intrigued for the morning now!

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Where did that month go?

Where did that month go?

Where did that month go?

I literally haven’t had chance to sit down and write a post, that combined with progress slowing down in the garden has meant I haven’t had much content.  We’ve just got back from a lovely two weeks of travelling, now rearing to go – to get the garden “finished” before the bad weather returns.

Farewell duckies!

The four ducklings went to their new home on the 12th August.  The same home as our previous two!  So, unknowingly the six ducks meet after being hatched and reared at our place!  They have gone to a great home and I’m in touch with them still.  They now have 12 ducks after starting with the original two from us.

Running around the garden on their last morning with us

Is she alive?

While we were away on holiday, our neighbour looked after the chickens.  The deal is that she keeps all the eggs.  The three big ones were in the left side run and Snowy was on her own in the right hand side run with the Eglu coop, where she was originally with the ducks.

When we were getting an update from our neighbour she said that Snowy hadn’t been out of her coop for a while and she was worried.  She has a friend that has Silkies and got her round to help, it turns out that Snowy was broody again and was sat on an egg!  Apparently our neighbours friend picked Snowy up and lifted her up and down to get air under her, I’m not sure exactly how but it seems to have worked and she came out of the broody spell!

Re-integration

I’ve been wondering about re-integrating Snowy with the other three, on previous merges when the ducks were with us, they had been mean to her, not just pecking but jumping on her back and all bullying her, this was why Snowy was still seperate while we were away.

So when we returned I started to let them merge together and it’s very clear that it’s going to be difficult, once one of the big ones gets her, the others come running and join in.  I spent about an hour with them at the weekend and overall it was OK but if I wasn’t there to keep the peace, who knows what would happen.

They seemed to tolerate Snowy while there was food, but as the food was consumed, the pecks started

That evening the three big ones jumped up and went into their coop as normal, I watched from the window as Snowy was pacing around in her run trying to find a way to the big coop.  She really wanted to get where the others were, I have seen this behaviour before when we originally intergrated her.

I decided to open the seperator gate between the two runs and see what she did, sure enough she jumped up and carefully went into the big coop.  The big ones made noise as she approached.  After a minute or so she jumped up onto the first perch and the big ones immediately tried to reach down to peck her.  It amazes me how brave Snowy is.

To see what happened I lifted her up and put her on the top perch.

Snowy on the top perch with the big meanies

Before I took that picture, Zazu was next to Snowy and she immediately started to peck, as I gently pushed Zazu away she jumped down and moved to the other end next to Belle, interestingly, Belle then started to peck Zazu.  I removed Snowy and put her into her Eglu as normal.

What’s the setup like now?

There is still more to do, and not much has changed since the last update.

The bigger part of the run, with the “big” coop, this is where the three big ones reside

In the above picture you might spot that Snowy is in the “big” run with Star in the background and Belle is in the “small” run.  This was because on the day I took the picture, it seemed that belle had it in for Snowy so I decided to seperate the bully to see what happened.  It seemed to work although the main problem seems to be that they all think it is OK to gang up on Snowy.

The “small” side of the run, this is where Snowy is currently and housed the ducks before they moved on

I have now made a platform for the Eglu coop as seen in the above photo, this gives a lot more floor space.  The size difference between the two runs is only about a foot but there is a visible size difference, hence the naming.  We couldn’t raise the coop when we had the ducks as they wouldn’t be able to get up.  They would have probably been happy sleeping underneath it anyway in hindsight – they were in and out at all hours.  The pebbles in the run were to stop the ducks from making such a mess.  They consume that much water from the drinkers that the floor below ends up a sloppy mud bath.  We positioned the drinker above the pebbles and it solved this.

The egg collection hatch

Before we went away I made a hatch to access the eggs from the roll-away nest box that is in the main coop.  We (and our neighbour) can now collect the eggs with ease from outside!  Although we have to access the Eglu to get Snowy’s eggs.

A panorama of the whole thing

Things to do

As much spare time as possible will now be spent to try and finish the garden.

To do:

  • Mix some mortar and set the blocks for the shed
  • Move excess building sand into the run (the sharp sand works great in the run – it is bare earth at the moment)
  • Build the shed using the timber from the old run
  • Move the old shed next to the veg plot (I expect to find a mouse nest underneath!)
  • Reclaim the land where the old run and shed was – this will be sanitised and re-purposed as a “play area” for the kids with a suitable surface
  • Create paths around the garden using paving slabs and slate chippings

Thoughts about Snowy

I am not sure what to do about Snowy and integrating her with the other hens.  The fear is that when she goes broody again, and we all know she will, then she will potentially be away from the flock again and we’ll be back to sqaure one.  At the moment it seems that it will be impossible to integrate her so I don’t know whether to keep trying or whether it is too risky as there is always a chance that they will gang up on her when we are not around.

The guys that had the ducks said that she is welcome to go to their place but when I mentioned this to the kids it was a definte no no.  It’s the last thing I want but we have to think of her wellbeing.

I am wondering if it is worth getting another Silkie or bantam to go with her and just keep the run split into two as it is now.  This is obviously in the hope that another hen would get on with her and vice versa.  I wonder whether the three big ones pick on her because of her crown being different – she has a big fluffy head, I have read this can be an issue in a mixed flock.  With that in mind, another bird with a fluffy head should hopefully integrate with Snowy in her run.  I quite like the Poland hens or we could get a different coloured Silkie.  Maybe if there were more Silkies the theree big ones would calm down a little, maybe we should get a load of Silkies?!  I guess if we could crack this chicken behaviour we would be rich!

Over and out

As a side note, the spiders are massive this year!

That is a pint glass!

 

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Near enough done

Near enough done

It’s near enough done now!

What a job! Over the last couple of weeks we’ve finished the run and coop then moved the birds over.

All the walls complete

It stayed like this for a couple of days. I was working up until about 11pm and getting as much done as possible but always went to bed wishing I’d progressed further.

The structure of the coop and nestbox area

Next I put the weldmesh where required. This time I’ve used the 10mm hole version which has smaller holes than the last stuff which I think was 20mm.

Weld mesh

I also finished the coop. It has two doors, the left side is where the nest boxes are and has a solid wood floor. The right has a mesh floor and the perches.

We moved the roof over, which had to be made slightly longer, and then moved all the birds over into their respective sides.

I ran out of weld mesh so had to bodge some panels in place to block the holes temporarily.

The bodged front
Perches
The nest box moved over. I plan to build a new one that is accessed from outside

That evening the chickens wanted to get back to their usual coop. I put them inside the new one, on the perches, but they got down and made a racket. Eventually they decided to settle in the nest boxes.

We realised it was too light for them. The solution was to staple some weed-stop fabric onto the roof inside the coop to make it more cosy. By this time it was quite dark and they stayed on the perches when I moved them back.

Inside the coop with weed-stop as a ceiling
The hole where the door will eventually be

The second night they went into the coop but when I went to check, Star popped her head out…

Peek a boo!
…turns out they’d settled near the entrance
So I moved them to the perch

The third night onwards they go to bed on the perch. Success!

This is what the finished article looks like:

Quite happy with it
This is the outside run
The remains of the old chicken run

Theres still a fair amount of work to do, the shed needs to be built using the wood from the old chicken run. Then there’s more paving and tidying up to finish the rest of the garden.

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Loads of progress

Loads of progress

We’ve made loads of progress over the last few days

I’ve spent most of my spare time working on the new run and it’s really taking shape.

The plan is to get the run and coop finished, move the birds over and then use the wood from the old run to build the new shed.

View from the front
You can see where the door from the shed will be
The side where the coop and nestbox will be. The pop hole to the outside run is visible

The coop design needs to be finalised. Looking at the last pic, we’ve decided to have it raised across the whole run with the coop on the right and the nestbox on the left with an access hatch from outside. This will give them tonnes of room inside the coop without taking up floor space in the run. It’ll be easy enough to clean at waist height too.

Quite a bit to do but the end is in sight now!

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