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!

The incubator is cheeping!

So 19 days after I put the eggs in the incubator, eggs started rolling all over the place and cheeping started emerging from inside the shells of my new little ones.

I didn’t think to bother googling if bantam eggs incubated at a faster rate to normal hens. I had planned to put them in to lockdown on the morning of the 19th day, but it turns out I was already too late.

The humidity was all wrong, the ventilation was all wrong, they were not placed properly and they were still being turned twice a day.

I was fully prepared to have nothing make it out of the egg at all. Ill be honest, I’d have cried a lot and probably would have had to take several days off work with stress and trauma, but I was prepared.

But then look what happened!

So this is where I sat for the next several hours with my face pressed up against the incubator watching the miracle of life.

Lots of people get to see this sort of stuff at school when they are growing up. I never actually did.
Which meant that I was actually completely unprepared for the slimy, boggly eyed, dinosaur looking creature that popped out of the egg.

I’m not going to lie, it was actually quite emotional.

But then they dry off and start too look more like the film adaptation of a fluffy Easter chick.

Friday

The first out of the egg race was Friday.
So named because she pipped on a Friday – obviously…
[S]he’s adorably snuggly and looks just like Jessie did when she was a day old. Brown and stripy with fluffy feet.

She also quickly found her feet. This was adorable at first, but when she walked straight over the only other pipped egg and stabbed straight through the membrane I nearly had a stroke.

There was blood everywhere.

I was freaking out, frantically googling and trying to find out what to do.

I managed to stop the (visible) bleeding, and it seemed like the chick inside was still moving so I upped the humidity and put the egg back in the incubator, knowing it was probably a lost cause.

By morning, the poor little baby inside had made a hole big enough for its head but was horrendously shrink wrapped.

I loosened it off and then all of a sudden – BAM! – the chick inside had kicked her way out of that egg in a fashion that would make Russell Crowe proud.

And thus, Attila the Hen was born.

Attila the Hen

By the end of the third day of hatching, it seemed like these two were the only ones we were going to get.

I opened up the incubator to remove the dud eggs and found one had pipped. It was the tiniest little crack and the egg was silent, but I could’ve sworn I heard something wiggle inside.

I decided to leave it overnight for one more night.

The next morning we found Pigwidgeon!

Pigwidgeon

So now my big boy Jimmy the Horny Roo had 5 offspring and I was hooked.

So into the incubator went 9 more eggs. 6 are bantam eggs, 2 are from my white star crossbreed Chickira, and 1 from MrTs favourite girl Henny Kravitz – a giant copper maran lady.

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Snuggled up with mummy

So that’s 6 eggs that I know may be viable, 2 that would be a stretch for our rooster to be able to tread, and 1 that would be one hell of a feat and make him one hell of a brave little man.

Lets see how big Jimmy’s kahonees really are shall we…

The feathers are coming…

I’m way too excited about these chicks.

So much so that my allotment neighbour has leant us his incubator and I have put a couple more in to see what happens!

Lovely speckled baby feathers coming through.

But look how much my first borns have grown up. Those feathers are looking beautiful and they’ll be just like daddy!

I am beginning to think that Walt may be a little boy though with those looks he keeps giving me. He’s got more side-eye glares than a teenage me!

They are definitely mummy’s chickens though, Mr T hasn’t quite made friends with them yet

Easter Eggs?

THERES ANOTHER ONE!

Jessie

This morning we welcomed little Jessie to the world.

[S]he’s beautiful and is now home and snuggled up with Walter loving life.

They are my first ever hatched chicks, and are the product of Jimmy the horny roo and one of our bantam ladies – not a clue which one though!

Now time to watch them grow up and try not to cuddle them to death…

A Very Special Announcement

It was a fabulous suprise this morning to be greeted with congratulations down the allotment on our new arrival.

We hadn’t got a clue what was going on.

But then we saw little baby Walter!

I’m so proud and so excited!!

Walter

A few weeks ago we gave one of our allotment neighbours two bantam eggs in return for two duck eggs – a very good trade on our part I thought.

It turns out that he wanted to put these bantam eggs underneath his racing pigeons to see if they would sit on eggs properly. And turns out – his pigeons are pretty good mamas!

Snuggles

So does this mean we now have a Homing Chicken? And if so, do you think we could corner the market? People pay a lot for pigeons, I bet a few well trained chickens could set us up nicely!

Bonding Time

Just kidding of course, this is our first-born, and will be my little baby from now onwards

The other egg has just begun pipping so we will see what tomorrow brings…

A Man’s Work is Never Done

So after tidying up the shelves and nearly splattering my finger everywhere, I’m not allowed to do any more work on the potting shed.

His Stern Face

MrT had another day off today so he has been building ther framework for the roof…

Yay!

It looks like its going to be something now!

It is looking pretty ace if I do say so myself. I’m rather proud of my fella and his ‘Mad DIY Skillz’.

Since my last post, I have managed to find a load of laminated glass going free – just had to pay £15 for a man in a van to transport the stuff. Its super thick, and even though a couple of panes are cracked the lamination means that they are still intact and can be used for the roof. The one downside is that they are SUPER heavy so will need a shedload of support.
AND we need to find some way of cutting them down or else we would have had one steep roof apex!
Anybody got any recommendations of how to cut it without power, heat, or a stable surface to work on? No, I thought not…

Its looking pretty good in there now though, so whilst he was doing that I decided to have a go at clearing up a bit. When MrT suddenly gave me an excited shout though I had to come and see what he had found.

Time Team Styl-ee

Look! A fully functional – and rather beautiful – path! It was covered by a hell of a lot of mud and muck but now that its dug out and has been rained on a bit it looks amazing. Plus there’s a few lovely steps that lead up to my orchard. Yet another awesome gift from the previous tenant.

So pretty… or they will be soon!

Child Labour = Easy Allotmenting

We had some little visitors today.

My favourite niece and nephews came to see the chickies and give me a hand sowing some sunflowers for the summer.

Child labour

The good thing is, when you tell a kid that chickens will love them more if they let them eat weeds, they suddenly like to help do the chores! I think got through about 3 barrows. Very proud of these little ones.

Also mighty pleased with the new list of potential chicken names thought up by the niece when she was trying to skive off weeding duties.

‘chicken food’ collecting

Another nice little treat came in the form of MrT having an early finish. He moved my lawn, did some more sawing for the potting shed and even managed to say hello to his long-suffering family! I’m sure they only get to see him at Christmas!

Off to mow…

I did treat him to a nice beer and a bonfire for all of his troubles, so he cheered up a little by the end of the night.

Crabbies – The ultimate payment for ‘Dad-min’

Men like burning stuff.

Better than the shops

Not much to report at the moment.

There has been a very cold snap recently, so nothing has been able to go out besides my onions, which are definitely ready to spread their roots!

Onion roots.

They had been potted up in a large tray of compost in my kitchen for the last few weeks to get enough of a root system to keep the beasties from pulling them up.

I did come to pick up some dinner though, and this is what I walked away with –

Winter Cabbage

These have been growing all through Christmas and aren’t they beautiful? Definitely going to have to find something scrumptious to do with this.

I also picked up lots of fresh eggs, and said hello to my little feathered kiddiwinks.

Scrummy!

Feel sorry for the girl who laid this monster though. Poor thing is probably walking like John Wayne. It turns out that there was a fully formed egg ‘inside’ this other egg! Apparently it’s an abnormality when the chicken is making the eggs, but to me it just looks damn painful… Ouchy!

Ouch – poor girl!