The next generation

Jimmy was such a good Roo.

8 out of 9 of the eggs I placed in the incubator have hatched.

It breaks my heart to watch them, knowing what happened to their parents and the rest of my flock so recently. But I know that if I don’t get back on with it I will never want to own another chicken.

These will not be going anywhere near the outdoor coop until they are fully feathered and large enough, and until I have fortified every possible fox entrance. They wont even be able to breathe near my birds again without me knowing about it.

In the meantime, these are my newest little babies;

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Buckbeak and Blue

These two were the first to hatch. Blue is very large, and is a cross between Jimmy the horny Pekin and Chickira, a large foul White Star cross.
Buckbeak is a tiny little Banty baby and has the most emo eyeliner I have ever seen.

Next up was Henny Henry, baby of Henny kravitz, the huge Copper Maran. A miracle child if there ever was one, she is the product of the biggest hen and the smallest roo. Nobody is entirely sure what she will look like, but she is very big already, and has Jimmys fluffy feet!

Henny

Next up came Henneth. She also came from a blue egg, so is a cross between Jimmy the horny Pekin and Chickira, a large foul White Star cross. We don’t know if she will have tail feathers like her dad, or none like her mum, so that will be interesting to watch.

Henneth Paltrow

Next to hatch was Violet. So named because she is the most adorable greyish purple, although she doesn’t look it in this photograph. She’s very nervous and is absolutely tiny!

Violet

One of the last to emerge is this beauty. MrT has called it Alvin, because it has a wicked chipmunk stripe. He’s the smallest of all the chicks and is adorable.

Alvin

To match Alvin, we have Theodore. She’s the opposite of Alvin, and is white with a grey chipmunk stripe.

Theo

The very last to hatch is the most beautiful one yet. MrT fell immediately in love – obviously because its as dramatic as he is – and has named it Sanka after the Cool Runnings character.

Sanka

“Kiss the lucky egg!”


The big birds!

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Outside for the first time!

Whilst the incubator was full of little ones bursting into life, my orginals were having their first taste of the outside.

Usually the two big ones are kept in a separate enclosure to the three smaller, but I am gradually introducing them to each other. Their first time outside was the perfect opportunity.

Friday was also out there, but is buried behind Walter in the photo above.

None of them seemed to know quite what to do, especially since the lawn was dewy and the grass long, but they will learn.

When they settled, they seemed to enjoy the tasty grass and scratching about in the mud.

Typical, they’ll get mud all over their freshly cleaned enclosures!

They are constantly under the protection of their bodyguards – Bonnie and Rico the rotties. No other critters are allowed close, especially since I think the rottie club may think that the birds are actually undercover puppies!

He’s a good hubs

After all the drama of the last fortnight or so, I’ve not been down to the allotment to do much at all.

That’s not the case for MrT though.

He has been there for several days while I was away with the ladies celebrating a hen party. While I was off getting drunk and dancing to S Club Party, he was toiling away trying to make my chicken run fox proof and make it look so different that I wouldn’t worry about the new girls when they are ready to venture out.

Much more open space

He has cut back all of the hedging down the back of the coop. It was made primarily of thorny horrible hedging and brambles, with some nettles thrown in for good measure. He’s completely cleared it.

So much room
Basically a path there now!

Then he started to build me a fence down that side. It wont keep the foxes at bay, but it might make it a little more obvious when they dig under or climb over if we can see their muddy trail.

It looks so different

He has also begun shifting a huge amount of slabs ready to lay them around the edge of the run to provide an extra layer of protection. This will hopefully stop the rats from burrowing in too. He found their entrance while sorting through the mess. I know we will never stop the rats, but at least there will be no easy-access.

The Rat Hole – we’ve finally found it!

Carpet gripper strips have been installed on the nesting box to deter any would-be invaders from using that as a neat little springboard over the fence. By the look of his hands when I saw him the following Monday, any fox visitors will have some holey paws after jumping on that!

Good luck foxy.

All of the clippings, waste wood and the remains of the old chicken shed have been broken down and left in a pile ready to burn when he next gets a day of work, but sadly he is now on 10 days straight so it’ll be a while yet!

Bonfire pile

Following all of his hard work, I popped down for my only visit on Monday to take a look at his accomplishments.

RIP Cluckingham Palace

In the daylight, we could see the exit route (and therefore probably the entry route) the monsters used to get in to my girls. They have climbed up on to the nesting box, then managed to squeeze between the overlap in the pheasant netting roof and the heras fencing side panel. It must have been a stroke of luck really.

They’ve then climbed over the roof of the coop, had their way with my beautiful flock, and then dragged Jimmy kicking and screaming back up the side of the coop and out. Its easy enough to see the scratches up the side of the coop where they’ve tried a couple of times to make the jump and scrabbled up the vertical side.

Lets just say that now I know how they have managed it, they will never get the opportunity again.

Sadly, I have heard since that one of the other Old Boys has had his flock decimated too – less than a week after mine.

They must be very active this year…

Keep an eye on your birds!

Heartbroken

We lost every single bird today.

I am an animal lover, but if I was face to face with that fox right now, I don’t know what I would do.

We can’t find any trace of how they got in and out, but they’ve taken Jimmy.

There’s also 1 Rhode Island and 3 Pekin Bantam hens missing – presumed dead.
It has left all the big marans headless scattered around the yard with guts all over and one bantam stuffed inside a haybale.

I am devastated.

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Jimmy and Jerry

Thankfully my neighbour saw it before me and warned me. He had already moved them in to a pile by the time I got there so that I didn’t have to see the bloodbath – but the amount of feathers all over everywhere, including in the nesting boxes where my broody hens were, was absolutely heartbreaking.

He has sent me home for a cup of tea while he cremates the remaining girls, and MrT has gone up in his work lunch break to try and figure out the plan of action.

I am supposed to be going away tomorrow morning for the weekend so have next to no time to sort anything out – not that theres any birds left to make it nice for.

Although perhaps the break will be good to take my mind off it…


Update

Having gone up there this evening to try and come to terms with what has happened, I now have an update.

My allotment neighbours found another girls as they were cleaning up. She was Maryhen and was my nephews’ favourite. I am glad i wasn’t there for that.

I found the Red, Rihenna, buried in the corner of the run, headless but otherwise intact.

I found Morgan stuffed head first inside a hay bale, covered by loose hay. She was fully intact, but from the state of the feathers she was killed up against that bale.

One lady is still missing. She was a beautiful millefleur girl called Jerry [Jeremy Cluckson]. She was broody and was sat in the nest box at the time. All of the eggs had also been taken/eaten.

Jimmy is still missing.
His feathers are scattered around the ladder entrance to the coop.
It is obvious by the layout, scratches and mess that the fox has tried to enter the coop through that door. Jimmy has been there to greet it, and has tried his hardest to defend his ladies.
He was an angel in the day, but ferocious when night fell.

We still do not know how the fox got in to the coop, but many of the other Old Boys have had a look and cannot find obvious any entrance or exit. Especially since they have been safe for the past 2 years while all other local coops have been raided, some several times.

I need to take a break from the allotment for a week or two to gather myself and focus on the chicks at home. Mr T will find out the entry route and secure the coop from any future invaders.

I know to some they are just chickens, but to me they were my pets.
Each had a name, a personality, and a daily cuddle.

They will be missed.

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Progress update

Walt and Jessie are getting BIG

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And Walt is definitely a boy.

He wakes us up at the crack of dawn every morning with his crowing.

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Walter
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Jessie

I am getting seriously worried about being able to keep him. The only reason we managed to get away with having Jimmy was because he was the quietest little man I had ever seen.

I can only hope that he quietens down when he is outside with a flock of his own.

We have a big plan to build another run next door to the current one with a big enough flock to keep both him and Jimmy happy. If not then sadly he will have to go. Walt may be my first born, but Jimmy was my first ever chicken and is the love of my life – even MrT knows that!