December 31st, 2009 .

This Christmas we went down to London to visit my girlfriend’s parents which meant that we had to leave the chickens here on their own for a few days. Initially I had intended to get some pet sitters in, but I left it too late, and instead we had to make sure that we weren’t away for longer than 2 nights in one go. The water was freezing over every night before we left, so I thought that we would end up staying in Cambridge, but the temperatures increased and on the morning of Christmas Eve their water was still liquid. This meant that we could go as long as we didn’t leave them for too long.

This Christmas there was a definite chicken theme to my Christmas presents. I got a t-shirt with a chicken on it, a book on chicken keeping, but the best chicken related gift was from my mum. My mum commissioned an artist that she knows to paint each of my chickens, so I now have 3 original paintings of my birds to put on my wall! I would have put them up already, but we only have 2 picture hooks so that will have to wait. Once I put them up I will photograph them and post the pictures on here.

Apart from that, Christmas involved a lot of driving this year (by my girlfriend). We went down to London for 2 days over Christmas, then came back for 1 night. Then we went to Buckinghamshire to visit my familly for 1 night, then back to London for 1 night, back to feed the chickens, back to London for 2 nights again and then home! Not being able to leave the chickens too long was a bit of a pain – next year I will be more organised with the pet sitters!


December 23rd, 2009 .
Where has my garden gone?

Where has my garden gone?

The last few days have been a lot less muddy and I have been getting clean eggs. The main reason for this is that the filthy mud pit at the end of my garden has been covered in a blanket of clean white snow! It had been nice to be getting eggs that aren’t covered in mud, but the cold weather has caused more problems than it has solved.

In general I think the chickens are okay in the cold – the problem is that they cannot drink their water when it is frozen.

Theres water in there somewhere...

There's water in there somewhere...

As you can see their drinker was completely snowed over. I have been having to go out in the cold every morning to defrost the drinker with a kettle. I have also been popping back home at lunch times to defrost it again – it’s difficult for me to walk home, defrost it and get back to work in an hour with all of this snow! After the first night I started putting the drinker underneath the coop which stops it from filling up with snow but it still freezes.

Apart from the freezing water, the chickens don’t seem to really like walking on snow. They have spent most of the past couple of days either standing on the roof or hiding underneath the coop. When I have been coming home I have removed them from the roof and placed them under the coop – I don’t think they were even coming down to eat (they are pretty stupid, I think if they are on top of the coop and can’t see underneath it they forget that their food is down there). The other problem with them staying on the roof is that they ended up sleeping up there a couple of times – they didn’t even want to come down to go inside at night. I had to put them in which always results in a lot of flapping.

A few times I saw Daisy pacing the edge of the roof in the way that the chickens do when they want to get down, but she was obviously looking for a dry patch to land on and gave up when she couldn’t find one. I helped her down but she didn’t seem very thankful!

Here are some more pictures of the girls in the snow:

I defrosted the drinker with a kettle of hot water

I defrosted the drinker with a kettle of hot water

The girls spent most of the time avoiding the snow (you wouldnt want to stand on snow if you had bare feet!)

The girls spent most of the time avoiding the snow (you wouldn't want to stand on snow if you had bare feet!)


December 16th, 2009 .

November has been the first period with a lot of rain since I created the enclosure down the end of the garden, and the ground is starting to get very muddy! There are 2 problems with this: The first problem is that the chickens love to walk in the mud and then walk all over the eggs, which means the eggs get very muddy. The second problem is that when I try to clean the coop out, I nearly fall over in the slippery mud.

The best way to solve both problems would probably be to put down a load of woodchip in the run, but that will have to wait until next year. For now I have added this lovely board walk so that I can get to the coop to clean them out without sliding around in the mud.

Check out my lovely board walk!

Check out my lovely board walk!

The other thing that I have done recently is invested in a basket for collecting eggs. This is a little thing that has made a big difference to my cleaning / egg collecting routine. Before I had to collect the eggs, climb back over the fence with them (hard when you have 6 eggs in your hands) and put them inside. I would then go back into their area and clean up. With my basket I can do it all in one go, and I don’t end up dropping the eggs in the mud!

This is such a time saver

This is such a time saver