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!

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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!

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!