Home

No More Assignments For Twiglet

2 Comments

I have been working on my assignment. Obviously, that is why I’m on my blog right now. This was my final assignment for my final paper for this course. So, my last assignment ever, unless I nutheadedly decide to do more study some time in the future. This final paper has seen me procrastinating like nobody’s business. It just doesn’t seem as relevant as looking at plants, holding chickens or watching videos with The Little Fulla of himself being himself. I found myself doing almost anything to avoid doing my assignment. Folding washing. Tidying up random things. Rearranging a kitchen cupboard. Cleaning the chicken coop. ‘Accidentally’ going on Facebook. Doing the dishes. Dishes! Doing the dishes hovers around the bottom of my ‘Things I Ought to do’ list. I would much rather clean the chicken coop. Anyway, I finished my assignment last night so now I am freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Now, I am playing the game of What Shall I do First? My options range from catching up on housework to catching up on garden tasks to getting some of my 10 million projects started to sitting around like a blob watching presentations on this week’s 2017 Home Grown Food Summit. The results are inclining towards a crazed combination of all of the above.

We were at the Auckland Botanic Gardens last weekend: a happy place that always gives me inspiration, especially when it comes to native plants.

Auckland Botanic Gardens

I could spend so many hours loitering around Auckland Botanic Gardens, but a small child on foot means everything is now done in fast-forward.

The Chickens

I have whittled my flock down to what seems like a rather small number: 8. It probably still sounds like a lot to some people but I feel like I’ve offloaded a lot of chickens in a short space of time! I sold my second black Orpington pullet last week. Now I’m back to two breeds or part-breeds: Australorps and Wyandottes. And Mr Bingley is still hanging around.

Chickens

Hello, Mr Bingley! Yup, he’s still here. Behind him are Lizzie, Georgiana and Kitty. PB is hiding behind the tree.

I celebrated my selling efforts by letting the chickens back into The Orchard Pen, which has grown back some grass and had a nice rest from chickens. Kitty celebrated by going broody and my “Look, it’s a new pen to explore!” plan didn’t prove a good enough distraction to keep her from a stint in the broody breaker. Frodo celebrated by starting to go broody too and ended up in the broody breaker straight after Kitty. I got Frodo in there early before she got too far into the broodiness to stop laying. She hasn’t missed a day of laying yet in 22 days. Wow! This is a new record for her and I don’t know how she’s managing such production in winter! I’m wondering what happens if I manage to break her broodiness before it interrupts her egg-laying hormones. I legitimately asked The Husband, “Will she explode?” I’m happy for her to miss a day of egg laying, I just don’t know how that will fit into her current system of laying every day before having a big broody break. She’s currently in a weird, quiet, trance-like, half broody state but still laid early this evening.

Orchard Pen

The chickens are back in The Orchard Pen: Lizzie (front) and Georgiana. The parts that had hay spread around when the chickens were last in there have grown some nice grass. I think I shall spread some hay in the empty Cedar Pen.

I got a good, sunny day to do a full coop clean and spray this week, which always makes me feel satisfied. Then Georgiana gave me a nice assignment-finishing present today: her first little egg. Yay! On one hand, I wasn’t expecting her to start laying in winter but on the other hand it’s about time! She is 32 weeks old today. Words like ‘slacker’ were starting to come to mind, so I am very pleased that she has joined the layers club.

Georgiana's egg

Georgiana’s sweet little egg.

PB is getting a proper name. It has been so long that it’s hard to stop calling her PB, but I’m going with something not too much different: Jane B. She is still getting bigger and is currently being super-scared of me when I’m in the pen. Partly, I blame her nutty ‘brother’, Mr Collins, but I think it’s also because I keep taking her friends away, first, Mr Collins, and then the black Orpington. Georgiana was the same when I took some of her buddies away around the same age. Hopefully Jane B will settle down now that I’ll have a bit more time to just hang out with the chickens. She still sits in my arms nicely and eats from my hand when I get her out at night but she’s scared of me during the day.

Jane B

PB shall henceforth be known as Jane B. She is almost 15 weeks now.

I have been asking members of a Wyandotte group about my SLW pullet, Lorelai, aka Slow Feather Butt, and opinions are still divided as to whether she is a boy or girl, so I will have to wait some more…

The Garden

The garden has been getting scarce attention lately owing to sickness, winter weather and that assignment. It is due for so many things and I’m looking forward to getting some quality time in my garden. The Little Fulla and I did a little bit of weeding today and the other day we had a family leaf raking session out the front, as the walnut tree has suddenly decided to dump copious amounts of leaves on the drive and thereabouts. So far, some of the leaves have been put on the compost heap and some have been dumped on top of the weeds in front of the compost heap. More raking will be needed to keep the leaves clear of the gate. I am hoping to plant my garlic tomorrow and am finalising my Vege Plan, which is a lot less orange than I thought it might be. I have been eyeing up the space out the front in front of my corokia and flax hedge as a place to plant Atlantic Giant pumpkins as well as another variety or two. I just need to deal with the weeds.

I have so many plans for things I want to do outside. I have been giving a lot of thought to shelter plant options, as we are getting a lot of wind through the backyard since a) we cleared out some shrubs/trees that were giving shelter on the west side and b) the neighbours cut down some good shelter shrubs. I am also thinking about trellis ideas along the paddock fence on the east side of the vege garden. The Great Vege Garden Expansion Plan still has stages that need to be done and I have a lot of plants that need to be planted in various places. I need to hack away at stumpy in The Herb Garden.

The Husband keeps throwing a rope up into the doomed plum tree and I keep telling him that we need to cut more off the top before any felling attempts. It doesn’t look like there’s much of it left but it is actually quite tall. The Husband has also been working on tidying up the ‘firewood storage area’ at the side of the deck. In a bid to dry out the wood that keeps getting pounded by the rain, he knocked up a quick shelter with lengths of timber and some black plastic. I am trying to bite my tongue because I know that the wood needs to dry out, but a) the black plastic is cutting out some light from the lounge, b) it doesn’t look very good, c) it keeps falling apart and d) I have longer term plans of paving the area and putting clear or white corrugated roofing above it to turn it into a BBQ and tidy firewood shelf area. We have almost used all the firewood in one bay of the woodshed in the chicken pen, so we could just move all the wet firewood there…

DSCF1433

Stumpy needs to be evicted from The Herb Garden. He just keeps getting wet feet.

The doomed plum tree

The rest of the yellow-fleshed plum tree still needs to be removed. Just not in one foul, misaligned swoop.

Firewood area

The Husband’s firewood area at the side of the deck. In the high winds yesterday one of the wooden supports between the black fence and the deck roof fell down and the black plastic that was covering them blew off. It’s a work in progress. Of sorts.

Hen or Roo? The Game of PB

20 Comments

As I fed the chickens at dawn this morning, I heard a bugle call sound out from somewhere across the fields. It was quite poignant and I wished it would keep going. Today is Anzac Day, the day we remember all our countrymen who fought or were killed in war. I was preparing to commence another round of Hen or Roo? with the chicks when something happened. Yesterday morning there was a different bugle call. The call of Mr Collins. Yes, Mr Collins has announced himself. What sounded like a squeaky, strangled rodent was Mr Collins declaring himself to be a boy. I will not be eating my hat. The Husband even heard it from the dining room and came out to see who was making the weird noise. His curiosity is pleasing. I had wondered if either of the chicks would out themselves while Mr Bingley is out of the flock, in chicken hospital, but I didn’t think they were old enough yet. They are seven weeks old. Mr Bingley has been crowing loudly in response from the garage. Mr Collins might be in trouble if he keeps this up. “Just wait til your father gets home!”

DSCF0740

Mr Collins has declared himself to be a boy. No surprises there.

In any case, this round of Hen or Roo? was all about PB anyway. I am currently highly undecided about whether PB is a boy, as I initially thought, or a girl. I thought I had a Mr Darcy on my hands but I might actually have a Charlotte running around with Mr Collins. Never mind the fact that Mary would be a better match for Mr Collins, as they are almost as silly as each other at the moment. Weirdly, Mr Collins has markedly toned down his cheeping and freaking out since his mother left them to their own devices at 6 1/2 weeks of age. He was such a needy feather child. Frodo must be relieved to have him off her back.

One small tangent before some more photos. Today we got five eggs for the first time. Five! With Frodo back to laying, all my laying hens laid today: Frodo, Lizzie, Lydia, Jane and Mary. We’re certainly not going to get five eggs every day with numbers trailing a little with the autumn season and moulting, but it is nice to know that there are five layers heading towards winter, so more chance of at least getting a few eggs over winter.

DSCF0877

I can even tell you who the eggs belong to today, but some days it has become a mind-boggling challenge if I don’t see who’s in the nestboxes. Clockwise from bottom: Jane, Lydia, Mary, Frodo and Lizzie.

Right, back to the game. Here are some more photos of the chicks for you to peer at. PB is a purebred Australorp, while Mr Collins is, I suspect, 3/4 Australorp and 1/4 unknown, possibly Buff Sussex, like his parents, Mr Bingley and Lydia. Feel free to announce your guesses or suspicious of hen or roo for PB.  Today, my gut is saying hen, but that is subject to change…

DSCF0809

Mr Collins (left) and PB (right). PB has a beautiful, fine head.

DSCF0827

PB has a lot of fluff.

DSCF0838

PB

DSCF0788

PB (back) ad Mr Collins (front).

Guesses? Thoughts? Wild imaginings?

 

Easter at Twiglet Homestead

8 Comments

Belated Happy Easter to one and all! Things have been all go here at Twiglet Homestead. Easter was a flurry of family time and catching up on housework, tasks and projects that had fallen behind in order to get the big Cedar Chicken Pen project completed; all wrapped up in a bundle of soggy ground. I managed to make hot cross buns. The first batch were what I like to call rock cross buns thanks to an overheated proving session in the oven, but the second batch were large and tasty. Somehow I even managed to make my own Easter eggs for the first time. They weren’t perfect specimens but they were tasty.

DSCF0729

The hot cross buns didn’t last long around here.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s been going on around here. It rained A LOT. Ground got very soggy. The Father and The Little Brother-in-law helped out with outdoor tasks. Lots of family visits. I’ve been doing small projects and bits all around garden: weeding, cleaning up vege garden, pruning, selective mowing… Ground is still soggy in places but sun is shining. The Husband hurt his back again. I finally cut my hair after 4 months. Mr Bingley got sour crop. I was about to help Mr Bingley throw up when The Husband arrived home and threw up on lawn. Weirdness level: high. I’m not sure if PB, purebred chick, is a boy or girl now. His/her nutheaded hatch mate, Mr Collins, is surely a boy. Mary, daughter of Mr Bingley and the late Legolas, started laying. Even more of a difficult layer than Jane. Laid first egg in woodshed after sneaking around wire. Repeated attempts to fence/block off woodshed resulted in much hoo-ha and grand finale of Mary on garage roof. Mary finally went in coop to lay. Drama queen Lydia started singing egg song VERY loudly outside and inside coop in Mary’s face until she was removed from the scene. Must make compost bins so The Little Fulla stops pilfering rotten feijoas from the compost heap. Knitting slippers for The Little Fulla. Need to harvest more feijoas, figs and walnuts. Need to make Vege Plan for next season. Need to finish pruning fruit trees while sun is shining. Need to properly close off woodshed from chicken access. Need to write comprehensive list of all things that need doing…

DSCF0688 ed

Mary is shy, subordinate and agile – all signs point to a nutty layer.

DSCF0809

Mr Collins (left) is a boy, or I’ll eat my hat, But PB doesn’t look as boyish anymore. What are you going to be, PB?

Also, The Husband got curious and bought some scales. My giant pumpkin weighed 42kg!

A Story of Feather Babies

4 Comments

If The Husband didn’t think I was a crazy chicken lady before, he surely does now. Anyone would think I was the one having babies. In preparation for the arrival of the feather babies I was nesting: tidying things up, making plans and getting everything ready.

I was going to move Frodo and the chicks, once hatched, into the big Hospital Cage in the garage and have a run going outside during the day. The main reason was to keep the age-specific food separate so it wouldn’t interfere with laying. I had just started arranging the plastic netting when I realised the chicks would fit right through the holes. Oops! I could have done it with chicken wire, but I started formulating Plan B. The Husband, during his week off this week, suddenly cleared out the other side of the woodshed, which was a hideous job that hadn’t been finished after we moved in. It wasn’t so much a woodshed as a mess shed. Unfortunately, the contents got dumped all over the second chicken pen area in front of the Cedar Garden: huge pieces of log, bits of firewood, pieces of timber of all descriptions and states of usefulness or uselessness, a big lot of dirt full of pieces of rubbish and everything else inbetween. I am not impressed about the chosen dump site, considering I am trying to ready this area for the chickens before they need to move, but I am so glad he got it cleared out that I can’t be too mad. Now that bay of the woodshed has some nicely stacked wood in it to match the other bay: one fresh wood and one aged wood. This pleasing organisation prompted me to clean up in front of the woodshed for the chickens. Then I realised I could fit the Hospital Cage there quite nicely and Plan B began to unfold. Frodo and babies would move there, so everyone could see each other nicely, and when ready to venture out and about, the door would be opened so they could join the others, behaviour pending. I took a wooden food shelter that was floating around aimlessly, and cut some bits of wood to go across the front, leaving a gap at the bottom that only the babies will be able to get under to reach their chick food. This will be in the run near the oldies’ food. I will need to adjust the planks as the littlies get bigger, but they are just screwed in. Hopefully that will work!

Further to this, I needed to deal with The Sticks. This is the pile that somehow accumulated along the back fence and was fenced off from the chickens by the plastic netting that the chicks would be able to get through. My chicken-wiring of the back fence had gone superbly until I got to The Sticks and stopped for some unknown reason… I was in denial when I said we were down to one pruning mountain, as this was just a pruning mountain with a different name. And it was a beast! It was long but dense and has required days and days and numerous sorting piles: compostable sticks, wood for the fire, awkward or diseased branches for the pruning mountain… Also, the neighbour of the paddocks behind us appears to have sprayed the boundary right up to the fence, which I am angry about, as the chickens could have easily reached some of the sprayed foliage. I cut down what sprayed grass and weeds I could that the chickens might reach and bagged it for the rubbish before chicken-wiring some more. It hasn’t helped that I injured my foot and have to try not to push it too hard. Except that I kind of did, and now I have a special shoe to wear. I am still working through the last bits of sticks and wood so that I can finish chicken-wiring the back fence for good so the chicks can’t go a-wandering once they are out. The oldies have been happily digging around in the new ground that I have uncovered. We also moved the rusty metal bin out.

Ok, let’s get on to the chicks. Now, Frodo gave me a scare when I found her in the orchard on Monday, during ‘lockdown’. She was only out for a few minutes (and after all those days I had to get her off the nest myself) but I was a little worried. I reasoned with myself that Frodo knew what she was doing and her own lockdown must be a little later. Too right, for the babies kept me waiting. I kept popping out to check on Frodo and the eggs, again and again like a neurotic jack-in-a-box. I was more nervous and impatient than the first time around! I think a large part of that was because of the eggs of the late and beloved Legolas. There were three under Frodo and not only did I want them to hatch and be ok, I wanted to know which ones they were.

As it was, my great timing plan did not pan out! The first two Frodo eggs were under Frodo when she started sitting one early evening. The next day I put the other seven Frodo eggs under her in the morning and the three Legolas eggs under that evening. I figured the Legolas eggs would be the last three to hatch. Ha! I knew the babies were finally coming when I heard Frodo start to make little noises on Wednesday evening. I was met with three chicks on Thursday morning. The first chick, owing to its size, dryness and dryness of the eggshell, was a Frodo egg, one of the unmarked first two eggs. This is a silver-coloured splash chick temporarily named Number 1. The second and third chicks were from Legolas eggs. The Husband helped me to put a wee cable tie on one leg of each of the first two Legolas babies. That left one Legolas egg, and I had to keep checking to catch which one it was. The fourth chick was another splash chick. The third Legolas baby was a bit tricksy, as I discovered it at the same times as one of the Frodo babies, with similar wetness and wetness of the eggshell. Since one was another splash chick and one was blueish like the other Legolas babies, I assumed the blueish one was the Legolas one. I can never be 100% sure but this is the best I could do! Poor Frodo wasn’t amused with my checking and I got told off with many pecks.

On Thursday evening there were three eggs left, one that had pipped and two that hadn’t. I decided we needed to move Frodo and the chicks into their big cage, which was ready and waiting, as the older chicks were starting to get fidgety and needed food. They had eaten a little off my hand but they needed full access to food and water. I didn’t like to move eggs that hadn’t hatched but it was better for the rest of them, including Frodo, and The Husband helped me to do it very quickly. Frodo settled well into the bigger, more sumptuous nestbox and I put the food right beside her.

The last chick, the black Tiny, was born overnight on Thursday/Friday. There were two eggs left, which I left until Friday afternoon. They hadn’t pipped at all and I couldn’t hear or feel anything coming from them. I was scared to find out what might be inside them but I had to get them away from Frodo, as she was sitting tight and not spending much time showing the babies how to eat or drink. The older ones were getting more fidgety and started pecking at her face. Number 1 repeatedly pecked at her wattle, latched on and drew blood until I intervened. I took the eggs away, sprayed Frodo’s face with a little more purple wound spray than I had intended (oops!) and had a few sessions helping teach the chicks how to eat chick crumbs by tapping at them with my finger and holding some out in my hand. This hatch hasn’t been as easy as the last one due to the longer time taken for all the chicks to hatch. The chicks have been up and about more today and I have helped them to feed a couple of times, which Frodo seemed grateful for. Oh, and as for the two eggs that didn’t hatch, I needn’t have worried about cracking them, as one had stopped growing fairly early on, with a small blob amidst the yolk equivalent to maybe Day 7, and the other even sooner, mostly just yolk. Our candling obviously needs some refining, and we should have checked them all on the second candling! Ah well, at least they didn’t crack or explode.

dscf8568

The older chicks get curious of their new surroundings on their second morning.

 

DSCF8577.JPG

Mr Bingley, you studmuffin, check out your beautiful babies!

And so we have a total of ten wee feather babies. Three are splash-based, two are black-based, one is maybe black but maybe blue (they were tricksy with this last time), that is Penguin, and the other four are what I am going to call blue for now. I’m hoping the Legolas babies won’t be a barred colour, which comes out in the opposite gender to the barred parent in a barred to solid colour cross, although Mr Bingley isn’t exactly solid-coloured so it’s difficult to know. I would love more barred chickens but in this case barred = male so I don’t want barred chicks. Assuming Mr Bingley is 3/4 Australorp and 1/4 something else, like Buff Sussex (if Elrond, his Dad, was 1/2 Australorp and 1/2 an eloped Buff Sussex or such), the Frodo babies would be 7/8 Australorp and 1/8 Buff Sussex or such. The Legolas babies would be 1/2 Barred Rock, 3/8 Australorp and 1/8 Buff Sussex or such. That’s not confusing at all hehe. I will be very interested to see how their colours develop. Other than the tagged Legolas babies it is going to be tricky to keep track of who’s who, but I will do my best to take lots of photos! And come up with some boringly descriptive temporary names…

The Babies Have Landed!

6 Comments

The moment is nigh! Apologies for keeping the eager beavers among you waiting. Today has been a busy day with the arrival of the feather babies of Mr Bingley, Frodo and Legolas. I am pleased to announce that we have nine chicks so far. Number 10 had pipped when I said goodnight this evening and the other two hadn’t pipped yet. They kept me waiting, these feather babies, and I was just about a nervous wreck. When I went to check early this morning, the first three had arrived, and I have been checking them again and again and again today!

Ok, I’ll get to the part you’re all waiting for: the Legolas eggs. I am thrilled to announce that we have three wee Legolas babies. Woohoo! I am so thrilled about this. More details to come, but for now, here are some photos of the adorable balls of fluff.

dscf8561

Number 1 and the cutest chick so far is a Frodo baby. It looks like a splash colour, which is white with splashes of usually grey.

dscf8555

A Legolas baby.

dscf8556

dscf8574

dscf8586

After moving house this evening, Frodo teaches the oldest babies how to eat. There are three of the silvery splash chicks so far, one blackie and a few blueish ones.

dscf8587

One chick has a temporary name so far: Orange Spot (right), a Legolas chick who has a curious orange spot right beside his/her eye.

Waiting For The Pitter Patter of Tiny Feet

5 Comments

Today I took Frodo off the nest for the last time for her mandatory eat-drink-poop break. Now she is in lockdown and won’t get off until the babies have hatched. Frodo is proving her mothering skills once again. She’s been such a determined sitter that I’ve had to get her off the nest every afternoon so she gets some nourishment and poop time. Initially, Mr Bingley was running a fine line with his assertiveness towards Frodo and the other girls. The first couple of times when I put Frodo out it was like he was telling her off, chasing her and grabbing her roughly. The second time he drew blood on her comb while I was elsewhere so I started shutting the gate into the run so she could do her things in peace. But she started jumping over the gate and running off into the orchard like a crazy fluff ball and after a few days, thankfully, Mr Bingley calmed his farm. Now I can put Frodo down beside him and he’ll just stand there, guarding her, while she crouches low down, putting hay on her back with her beak until she comes out of the nesting trance and gets some food. Mr Bingley was chasing and pushing around the other girls way too much as well, until he started to realise that they would hang around him more if he spent more time feeding them and doing nice things instead of trying to force them to do what he wants. Hopefully he remains more chilled out. He was starting to make me nervous with his craziness but I suppose that’s what you get for having a cockeral mature right on the start of the breeding season! Jane is still a little scared of him in the morning, being slow to come out of the coop and then running for the hills when she does. Hopefully she realises he’s calmed down a bit.

DSCF8511.JPG

Broody Frodo had her fight face on today.

Frodo was feistier than usual today, hoeing in on the treats bowl I put out and chasing all the other girls for getting too close or just because. She almost jumped on Lydia at one point. Mr Bingley stayed near her and kept a look out. Last night The Husband helped me to candle half the eggs. I mainly wanted to check the three we were unsure about the first time, plus the second undated egg, and we also did Legolas’ other two eggs. All of these looked good, so fingers crossed! They are technically due to hatch on Tuesday evening and Wednesday, so now we wait…

dscf8513

Staunch Mr Bingley stands guard while Frodo preens herself.

dscf8520

Mr Bingley is learning how to be a good rooster instead of a nutcase. Jane, Lizzie and Lydia (out of shot) stay well away from Frodo as she currently is a nutcase!

dscf8516

And one more photo of Mr Bingley, just coz. He has the most beautiful big, dark eyes.

We’ve Got a Sitter

4 Comments

Frodo is sitting on eggs once again. It doesn’t take long to get that hen broody! This is her third broody phase this spring already. When she lays, she lays very well. For two weeks max at a time. Hence why her broodiness has to be managed. But this time I was eagerly waiting with some eggs for her to hatch. I had saved a lot but I didn’t want to give her too many, so I picked the best and/or most recent ones and gave her 12. Nine are hers and three are Legolas’. I really want to hatch a few of Legolas’ eggs. The fact that she got non-recoverable paralysis from Marek’s isn’t a good point for breeding, but I just loved her personality and ease of handling and would be stoked if I could get that personality in even one more hen. Plus, I don’t know how much of the way they handle Marek’s is genetic and how much is from the way they’re raised. So far, I’m having a much better track record with the feather children I’ve raised than the ones I bought as pullets, although it’s still early days yet. I would have liked to have put four of Legolas’ eggs under Frodo but I didn’t want to use the most recent ones she laid when she was paralysed and the others were getting a little old by the time Frodo went broody. If I can just get one Legolas female… Please!

DSCF8352.JPG

Frodo gets her broody face on. She is very fond of this particular nestbox.

Although I had a perfect hatch rate last time, I’m not expecting 12 out of 12 this time. Mr Bingley is still young for a father and also, I’m not sure about the most recent two of Frodo’s eggs. I left two in the nestbox to encourage her to go broody, taking out the oldest one until she stopped laying. The tricky bit is that she was sitting in there for quite a while for the last couple of days while she was laying in her pre-broody state, so I’m not sure if the eggs got kick-started early or not. I should have taken those two out and put two other saved ones in, but I was so eager I didn’t think about that. I was planning to put Frodo’s own eggs under her one day and Legolas’ the next day so they would hatch slightly later and I could tell them apart by somehow marking one lot. But Frodo went broody one late afternoon or early evening, sitting on the two eggs, but since I wanted to be sure she was broody I waited until the morning to put the rest of her eggs under her. Then I put Legolas’ eggs under her that evening, as I didn’t want there to be too much of a gap between hatchings. Thus, they should all hatch within 24 hours of each other, and Legolas’ should be the last three.

On the evening of Day 9/10, The Husband helped me to candle the eggs. It’s not as easy as it looks in photos. We used the bright torch on my mobile with a roll of small tape sitting on top to make a little circle that the egg could be cupped in. Most of the eggs looked fertile, with the presence of veins, but there were three we were unsure about: Legolas’ egg from 2nd October, Frodo’s egg from 7th October and one of Frodo’s most recent two, which I unfortunately didn’t date as I was leaving them in the nestbox and swapping them out. I really need to get some fake eggs. I’m planning to candle them again later this week before lockdown on Day 18. Hatching day, Day 21, ought to be Tuesday evening or Wednesday.

Frodo is sitting like a trooper again and I have to get her off the nest each day to eat, drink and poop. Gloves are mandatory as she does not want to be moved and pecks very swiftly! Once out, Frodo is like a noisy, neurotic puffer fish. I was shutting the gate into the run for a little bit so she could eat, drink and stretch her legs before Major Bingley arrived to get her in line and into the outer pen. I’m watchful of how he’s treating her but she wants to go out with the others for a bit now, and will jump over the gate if I don’t open it, so she can dust bathe and forage a little with her buddies before heading back into the coop. Mr Bingley has chilled out about it a little more now that he realises Frodo is not totally abandoning him.

DSCF8415.JPG

Broody Frodo, my little puffer fish, having a break in the orchard with the others. Lizzie is curious to see what she’s up to and Mr Bingley keeps a watchful eye.

At this stage I’m planning to move Frodo and her babies, once hatched, into the Hospital Cage, which has been cleaned, disinfected and moved right by the garage door. I will attach netting to it to make a little pen going outside, going up to the gate by the woodshed so that everyone can see each other. Then I can shut them in the cage in the garage at night or if I’m out. This is mainly so I don’t have to change everyone’s food but also because I’m a little wary of Mr Bingley’s assertiveness. He’s more assertive than Elrond was, so I’m not sure how he’d handle Frodo with a bunch of babies. I imagine he’d just try to keep them all in line but that could be bothersome for little babies. Elrond was very good with his babies and just let Frodo do her thing, but I can’t assume his son will be the same.

As for what I’m going to do with them all, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m not counting my chickens before they’ve hatched. But females will be very kindly looked upon and will likely be kept for some time to see how they go. I am very curious to see what sort of colours come out. If Mr Bingley was a pure blue Australorp, Frodo’s babies would be 50% blue, 25% black and 25% splash. Splash is white with splashes of grey; not a recognised colour for showing but used in breeding. But since he is not pure and has red in him, who knows! And as for the Legolas babies, the barred colour is a sex-linked thing so any male chicks should be barred (like their mum) and females should be non-barred (like their dad), often black. Just one more week to go now!

Older Entries